Califonia Bountiful

Catherine Lake

2nd grade teacher, May Grisham Elementary School, Santa Barbara County

This interview was originally published in the December 2010 issue of CFAITC's e-newsletter, "Cream of the Crop."

1. How long have you been teaching or working with students?
I have been teaching for about 20 years, but I worked with students in other capacities before that. I was a child abuse program coordinator and I also worked (on a volunteer basis) opening a children's museum here in Santa Maria.

2. Why did you choose to become an educator?
It is the only thing I ever remember wanting to do. I think that is due, in part, to some really great teachers I had in school. They really seemed to enjoy their job.

3. How do you integrate agriculture into the curriculum or activities you teach?
There are a great deal of really great literature books that I read with the students. Two of my favorites are "Princess Camomille's Garden" and "Ugly Vegetables." Also, for the last few years we have hatched chickens and ducks in the classroom. One small thing I do is use vegetable pictures and names for my reading groups. So instead of the "red" group, I have students in the "bell pepper" group or the "cauliflower" group. I have some great photo die cuts of vegetables that I use.

4. Give an example of how you use agriculture to teach in your classroom or in your program.
One of my favorite examples was a problem-solving/writing/art activity I did with my first-grade students a couple years ago. We had planted seedlings in the garden, only to have the ground squirrels eat them again and again. So I challenged the students to come up with a solution. They drew a picture of their idea. Then they wrote about it. I was so impressed with their imaginative ideas!

5. Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
I would have to say my parents. They really stressed how important education is and they have always set an example by continuing to learn new things.

6. What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
I like the newsletters and the conferences.

7. Why is it important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
Agriculture is about food, and eating is probably one of the only things that all my students do every day and will continue to do for the rest of their lives. They should know where that food comes from.

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