Califonia Bountiful

Cattleman take the 'Country' to school

Sept./Oct. 2008 California Country magazine

Fred Chamberlin buys subscriptions to California Country magazine for all the elementary schools near his Los Olivos cattle ranch.

Fred Chamberlin’s family has been ranching in Santa Barbara County since 1929. It was this connection to the land that inspired him to buy subscriptions to California Country magazine for all the elementary schools near his Los Olivos cattle ranch.

“The breadth of California agriculture is absolutely tremendous, and California Country magazine touches a lot of those aspects. That is why I wanted to make it available to students,” said Chamberlin, a Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau director known for his bushy beard and friendly demeanor.

Teri Bontrager recalls the board meeting in which Chamberlin challenged his fellow directors to purchase magazines for the schools in their areas.

“Fred said California Country should be in every classroom and asked the board to pony up money—and they did. They took money out of their own pockets and just started throwing it on the table,” said Bontrager, the county Farm Bureau’s executive director. “There was a neat feeling in the room and everybody was excited about it.”

The excitement continued when Chamberlin paid a visit to Ballard Elementary School in Ballard. There, he gave each fifth-grader a copy of the January/February 2008 magazine, which featured an article about Modoc County residents who spin their own yarn and weave it into apparel items.

“The article was really timely because we were able to incorporate its information about wool and weaving into our Colonial Craft Day,” said teacher Georgeann de Goede.

Fifth-grader Cooper Farrell said he enjoyed Chamberlin’s visit as well as the opportunity to have his own copy of the magazine, which is published by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“Mr. Chamberlin is a smart and funny person,” the boy said. “There was an article about chickens in the magazine and he was telling us that they were ‘fighting hippie chickens!’ There was also an interesting article about shearing sheep that we used in class.”

This is exactly the outcome the Farm Bureau leaders had hoped for.

“If students are taught to appreciate agriculture from an early age, they will grow up to be informed consumers,” Bontrager said. “It is an informed consumer who will understand and appreciate the importance of protecting our farms and ranches.”

Christine Souza is a reporter for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She can be reached at 800-698-FARM or

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