The RCD offers educational programs to both high school students and adults through partnerships with numerous organizations, agencies, and farmers and ranchers in the County. Through our annual “LandSmart®” workshop series we provide information and demonstrations about a variety of natural resource and sustainable agriculture topics. The RCD also offers on-farm outings on public and private agricultural properties through our Agricultural Heritage Series. Lastly, the RCD manages the FARMS Leadership program to high schools students throughout the County, combining innovative hands-on experiences with classroom learning to help students develop leadership skills and promote local agriculture and healthy ecosystem.

We feel it is so important to teach children where their food comes from, especially the food that is grown here in Sonoma County. We believe this opportunity was beneficial for the children to see firsthand a working farm and what it produces. Hopefully, the public will learn how important our agricultural land and identity is in Sonoma County.

Rick and Cindy Crane

Crane Farm

Inspiring youth to become leaders in agriculture and the environment.

The Sonoma FARMS (Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership Program provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri- businesses and universities. The program directly engages with Sonoma County’s local agricultural producers and stewards of the environment. Participants develop leadership skills and learn about agricultural practices that contribute to a healthier ecosystem, while connecting with agricultural, environmental, and food system career opportunities. Sponsored by the Sonoma Resource Conservation District (RCD), FARMS Leadership Program is proud to be celebrating over 19 years of serving high school youth county wide.

 

The core elements of the FARMS Leadership Program:

 

Leadership: Working in small groups, students identify and complete a “Community Action Project” based on student interest and an identified community need. Leadership and team-building challenges are built into each field day.

College and Career Access: Each FARMS Leadership site visits at least one college or university to learn about college majors, academics, campus life, and career choices available in Agriculture, Environmental Science and related fields.

Sustainability: Students begin to understand the relationship between agriculture and the environment by engaging in hands-on projects, which demonstrate on-farm practices that conserve and help to renew natural resources. They learn about innovative ways farmers are adapting practices to reduce environmental impacts of farming, maintain the viability of family farms and feed an increasing population.

Nutrition: Meals are provided to students to model healthy food choices, expose students to fresh food and how to prepare it. Activities support student learning about nutrition, cooking and daily food choices.

Students are chosen annually through a competitive application process representing the diversity of our region. A minimum of seven field days during the academic year focus on four program pillars: Sustainability, Leadership, Nutrition, and College & Career Access. Each month, the group gathers at a local farm, ranch, or community garden where they learn about cutting edge conservation practices, innovative business models, and what it takes to keep our county healthy and thriving!

Survey

 

56% have a career involving agricultural or environmental sciences.

92% said that the FARMS Program changed their attitudes about food and agriculture.

85% have been involved with community/volunteer work.

92% say they learned to be open to new experiences.

89% are more comfortable interacting with new people.

88% are better when working as a team.

By successfully completing the program students may earn high school credit, place their skills on career and college applications, as well as gain the continued support of the greater state-wide FARMS Leadership network. A program founded by the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters, California, the Sonoma FARMS Leadership program is only one of twelve other sites across the state serving over 400 students annually.

Please contact Christine Kuehn, Education and Communications Specialist at ckuehn@sonomarcd.org if you are interested in participating with your local high school.

If it wasn’t for FARMS Leadership, I wouldn’t have learned more about agriculture and received a scholarship so I could go to college.

Jose Reyes

Windsor Oaks Academy

The TEAM (Teaching Environmental and Agricultural Memories) field trip program is a unique environmental education program offered to elementary youth county wide in partnership with the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (RCD). The content of the TEAM program incorporates the significant role that Sonoma County’s characteristic agricultural landscape plays in environmental stewardship. Currently funded by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Sonoma Ag and Open Space District), the program invites elementary students to experience four diverse agricultural properties to learn about everything from the importance of maintaining bee populations for apple production to nutrient management and cheese production on a local dairy, to soil health and heritage melons.

TEAM field trips also emphasize the importance of partnership among diverse stakeholders in protecting our natural resources and the renowned agricultural landscape of Sonoma County.

Please contact Christine Kuehn directly if you are interested in hearing more or would like to be added to the 2017 program calendar at ckuehn@sonomarcd.org.

These unique workshops are targeted to support land owners and managers with natural resource conservation practices and cutting edge land management techniques. Expert practitioners offer insights and resources to participants through detailed presentations and field tour sessions. Collaboration with other local and regional stakeholders to design and execute these informative workshops provides an invaluable opportunity for agriculturalists to gain tangible tools to support the efficiency and sustainability of their operation.

To check out our upcoming LandSmart Workshops or to register with us, please visit our Get Involved page.