AITC conference starts Thursday

A New Crop of Students Every Year is the theme of the 2004 California Agriculture In the Classroom conference that starts tomorrow.

The conference focuses on nutrition and food safety and is expected to draw more than 400 educators to Tulare County's Visalia Radisson and Convention Center on Oct. 21-23.

Through a series of keynote presenters, workshops, exhibits, tours and a pre-conference sessions which at times will take place in local farms, the conference identifies stimulating ways for educators to connect students with the food and fiber they use in their everyday lives.

Invited keynote speakers include A.G. Kawamura, Secretary for the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Jack O'Connell, state Superintendent of Public Instruction; Maria Shriver, First Lady of California; Ann M. Veneman, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dr. Carl Winter, Food Toxicologist at the University of California Davis and director of the FoodSafe Program, .

Pre-conference registrants will be lead by Sequoia Field Institute guides on an exploration through Grants Grove in Sequoia National Park, to witness the natural wonders of the Giant Sequoias. A California Curriculum Guidelines for Agricultural Literacy Awareness workshop and a tour of Squaw Valley Herb Garden will provide unique resources and opportunities for teachers.

The goal of the conference is to provide educators and volunteers with agricultural resources and know-how for easily incorporating agricultural examples into everyday classroom curriculum. Strathmore Elementary School teacher David Johnson, who applied for a grant through the Tulare County Farm Bureau to recieve help in adding on to the school garden, will be attending the conference.

There he will have access to a variety of resources that he can implement in his classroom as his fifth grade students work in the school garden.

The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom works with K-12 teachers, students, and community leaders, to enhance education using agricultural examples.

The program offers teacheres an understanding of agriculture and school children the knowledge to make informed choices. Some students will choose agriculture as their life’s work. All students, as future voters, will make decisions about agriculture.

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