Califonia Bountiful

Chanda Rowley

K-5 Principal
Chatom Elementary, Stanislaus County

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

How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator? How did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom? 
I have been in education 13 years. I am passionate about learning and I love to share that enthusiasm with students. There is no better way to spend my day. I have known about Ag in the Classroom as long as I have been in education. I remember cotton bolls as my first exposure.

What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
I adore the Ag in the Classroom curriculum. Students love to read about their food and where it comes from. Using Ag in the Classroom curriculum, teachers are able to provide engaging informational text for their students. This is especially relevant now, as reading in the content areas has a greater emphasis in the newly adopted Common Core State Standards.

What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you and how does that impact the way you educate students?
The fertile Central Valley is a tremendous resource. Students need to have an awareness of watershed and issues related to development so they can manage those resources. At Chatom, kindergarten through fifth-grade students participate annually in a schoolwide Ag Day, where presenters come and speak to students about agriculture.

Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
We are recipients of a grant and our students get to sample different fruits or vegetables each week. Students have had the opportunity to sample grapes, kiwifruit, snow peas, and more. Over the course of the year, students have been exposed to new foods including artichokes, anise, dates, mangos, and berries, and they are becoming comfortable with other previously unfamiliar healthy fruits and vegetables. In turn, they have conversations in the classroom and at home with their families about the new foods.

Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
Students have to be aware of where their food comes from. Knowledge about nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet is critical for students to make wise choices.

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