Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG), a nonprofit organization that aims to help young students and the community understand the farm origins of their food and the importance of local agriculture, spread its message to more than 15,000 students and community members in 2021.
“One of SEEAG’s goals is for the public to better appreciate our local farmers, ranchers and farm workers who grow the food we eat,” says Mary Maranville, SEEAG founder and CEO. “The food supply chain from farms to our tables is a journey we don’t often think about, but we should.”
SEEAG’s Farm Lab at Petty Ranch in Saticoy welcomed over 1,600 second graders, including low-income, Title 1 students, for a hands-on farm experience. “In addition to the wonderful experiential education benefits that Farm Lab gives students,” says Maranville, “it also gets kids outside off their devices and tech, which improves their mental health and wellbeing.”
Another 1,300 students in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties took part in SEEAG’s Child Wellness Initiative designed to educate and inspire children to eat healthy by adding locally-grown fruits and vegetables to their diet. Each student received a bag of fresh produce, recipes and other educational material. Another 200 middle and high school students attended SEEAG’s STEM Career Pathways in Agriculture presentations to learn about technical careers in the industry.
“SEEAG wants to cultivate the next generation of agricultural ambassadors and farmland stewards,” says Maranville. “We’re hoping that learning about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables will create life-long healthy eating habits. We did much of our instruction remotely during the first part of 2021. We were able to return to in-classroom instruction in October.”
After a year off because of the pandemic, SEEAG held its Ventura County Farm Day and Santa Barbara County Farm Day in 2021. More than 12,000 people attended, visiting growers and other agricultural sites to see firsthand how food is grown, harvested and transported to local markets. Visitors experienced a day of agricultural activities, farm tours, tastings, and fruit and produce giveaways.
“SEEAG was able to engage with a large number of kids and adults even during a challenging year,” says Maranville. “We are currently expanding our STEM Career Pathways in Ag outreach to middle and high school students throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and our Ventura County Child Wellness and Santa Barbara County Child Wellness elementary school presentations.”
All SEEAG programs are free to schools and participants. It provides free bus transportation for students attending SEEAG’s Farm Lab.
Major 2021 donors included Haas Automotive Foundation, Gill’s Onions, Sprout’s, Ed and Jeanne Woods Family Foundation and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.
For more about SEEAG, go to www.SEEAG.org.