Califonia Bountiful

Rexann Jensen

6th Grade Earth Science, 7th Grade Language Arts and Life Science, and 8th Grade History Teacher
Gratton School
Stanislaus County

This interview was originally published on CFAITC's blog, "The Fencepost."

How and when did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom?
I learned about the organization from my fellow teacher Sheila Amaral. She was our school's Ag Day coordinator and school garden advisor. She encouraged me to attend the CFAITC conference with a scholarship from our local Farm Bureau.

How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?
I have been teaching for 19 years. Teaching was always an occupation I aspired to as a child, and I dearly love working with children and young adolescents every day.

What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
My favorite program is the Imagine this… Story Writing Contest, as it is a fabulous tool to get the students excited about researching and writing. The students gain so much knowledge about the role agriculture plays in our daily lives through this contest. It allows us to use state standards in a motivational way to inspire students to research agriculture and learn as much about it as possible.

What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you and how does that impact the way you educate students?
Through teaching, I have come to realize how important California is in the overall scheme of agriculture in the world. We produce crops in large numbers that are shipped everywhere. If we do not teach our students about the importance of California agriculture, they will not learn to value or appreciate it and will not be advocates for our precious commodities. We need to encourage our young people to become stewards of the land and protect it from being destroyed.

Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
My fellow teacher Sheila Amaral has inspired me at the professional level. I was not very knowledgeable in the world of agriculture before I was hired at Gratton School. I grew up in the Central Valley surrounded by agriculture, but I always took it for granted. Sheila has inspired me to get involved in our school garden, learn more about growing crops, and she gave me fabulous ideas to share this knowledge with the students. I have always had a love of animals and nature, so adding on the gardening aspect to my knowledge base has really rounded out my teaching abilities.

Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
Currently my class is growing popcorn for a late summer harvest. They are very enthused about this crop as they look forward to reaping the benefits when we come back from summer vacation. After studying monocot and dicot seeds in life science, the class chose to plant the monocot popcorn to try it out. I have never grown it, so it will be a learning experience for all of us. The crop is growing very nicely so far. My class is also in charge of our schoolwide composting. We collect compostables and regularly turn, water, and maintain the piles.

Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
Don't be afraid to try new activities. Students can learn from failures as well as successes. Even a very small garden plot or just a few pots for flowers or vegetables can be useful for teaching students about the wonderful world of agriculture.

Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
California provides a wealth of agricultural products that are consumed worldwide. We need our students to value and protect these riches.

Follow us on: Facebook Twitter YouTube Pinterest Pinterest