Agriculture Education – Making a Connection
By Kim Vail, Executive Director
Published February 1, 2016
As you read this month’s Farm News, we are wrapping up the 27th Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. Hopefully, you secured your seat at a table on the afternoon and evening of February 6th!
I have been reminded several times since arriving early last fall about the attraction and importance of this event, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the Grace Pavilion as we again come together to enjoy good company, celebrate Sonoma County agriculture and more importantly, raise funds in support of agriculture education. Through the generous support of community partners, vendors, volunteers and attendees the Crab Feed continues to grow both in attendance and in funding that is used to carry out several programs and activities that help to keep agriculture strong in our community.
It takes a small army to organize and conduct the crab feed every year. The Farm Bureau staff invests many hours into making this a premier event. The Farm Bureau board of directors is fully supportive and is engaged in many aspects as Crab Feed week arrives. The additions of over one hundred members from county 4-H and FFA groups and nearly two hundred adult volunteers, many of whom return every year, complete the crew that is needed. Thank you to all who devote their time to making the Crab and Wine Fest the anticipated annual celebration that it has become.
Agriculture education is one of the key focuses of programming that Farm Bureau carries out every year. This focus is a key ingredient to making the connection to contemporary agriculture as a growing percentage of the community population becomes increasingly removed from agriculture. How many generations back in many family trees do we need to go to find a relative who was a farmer or rancher? This number continues to increase along with the possibility of misunderstandings. The recent farm to table dynamic has begun to raise awareness of where and how food is produced, but in large measure the challenges and opportunities of raising food are little known by many.
Ten years ago, Sonoma County Farm Bureau leaders had foresight to provide a mechanism for contributions to support our focus on agriculture education through establishing the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County. Last year, mostly through contributions of over $75,000 raised during the Crab and Wine Fest, the Foundation was able to provide scholarships to assist thirty-six young leaders in the county pursue degrees from top agricultural universities across the country.
Scholarships for deserving students are certainly a worthy use of a majority of these resources. In addition, other education outreach activities to urban and rural communities that also benefit through donations to the Foundation include programs like Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, recognition awards for 4-H during the county fair, North Bay Science Challenge and Young Farmers and Ranchers. Tomorrow’s Leaders Today targets high school students with several on farm experiences designed to expose them to various farm production systems and related careers in agriculture.
The culture of generous philanthropy in Sonoma County is evident. With your continued support we will build upon these programs as we work together in promoting all types of agriculture.