Lesson ideas sprout for teachers on valley ag tour in Oakdale

jholland@modbee.comJune 4, 2013 

    alternate textJohn Holland
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Agriculture, Turlock; local news editor on Sundays
    Bio: John Holland has been a reporter at The Bee for 12 years. He has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and previously worked at the Union Democrat in Sonora and the Visalia Times-Delta.
    Recent stories written by John
    E-mail: jholland@modbee.com

— This is the corn that feeds the cow that gives the milk that makes the cheese.

That story line was the topic Tuesday for 15 teachers learning how to put farm-related science into their lessons.

They visited a feed mill, a dairy farm and a cheese plant as part of the sixth annual Teacher Agricultural Science Technology Education Seminars (TASTES).

The program is put on for kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers by the National Ag Science Center, based in Modesto.

The four-day program, which started Monday, featured tours of dairy-related businesses in the Oakdale area Tuesday.

The group visited A.L. Gilbert, where a feed mill established in 1892 mixes corn and other feed with nutritional supplements for dairy cows.

The process got Carla Peterson thinking about possible lessons for her students at Pacific Christian Academy in Sebastopol, Sonoma County.

"You can do math and fractions and decimals and rounding," she said.

The teachers learned about milk production at the Hoekstra dairy farm and about cheese making at Oakdale Cheese and Specialties, a maker of gouda.

Thirteen of the teachers are from Stanislaus County, one each from Tuolumne and Sonoma counties.

"This trip has been amazing," said Patty Carroll, who teaches at-risk students at the Petersen Alternative Center for Education in Modesto. "I have been exposed to so many different ideas and strategies that I never would have thought of."

Monday, the teachers observed insect mouths, seeds and soil and worked on integrating science, writing and art into lessons.

Today, they delve into California geology and soil, the nitrogen and carbon cycles, ecosystems and the effects of climate change.

Thursday, the group will join close to 200 other people at the Farm to Table Dinner, in its second year, at Four Seasons Farms, near west Modesto.

The event will feature food and wine from Stanislaus County producers and raise money for Ag in Motion, a mobile classroom that travels to middle schools.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

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