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Grape panel gives $38,250 in education grants

Annual program enables growers to support region’s schools.

Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

April 24, 2019

3 Min Read
Classroom Mario Villafuerte
The California Table Grape Commission “Innovations in Teaching” program makes grants available to enable students in prime table grape-growing areas to participate in projects to enhance learning and foster community service.Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

A table grape group has given $38,250 in grants to teachers throughout the San Joaquin and Coachella valleys as part of an annual program that enables growers to support the region’s schools.

In all, 51 grants of $750 apiece were given out in the grower-funded California Table Grape Commission’s “Innovations in Teaching” program, which was created in 1993.

Projects will reach more than 9,000 students from kindergarten through high school in the areas of agriculture, math, science, art, health and technology, according to a commission news release.

With the grants, students will learn to use robotic kits, create mobile applications and plant a sensory garden for special-needs youngsters, among other projects.

“For over 25 years, California table grape growers have been proud to fund school projects that benefit students,” says Kathleen Nave, the commission’s president. “It is great to see many exciting and innovative projects being implemented by teachers in the state’s table grape-growing regions.”

Schools in the prime table grape growing regions of the two valleys submit projects for consideration in the six categories. The projects are being implemented in the current academic year.

Kern County

This year, 19 of the grants were awarded to schools in Kern County. In one project, fifth-graders at Owens Intermediate School in Bakersfield will grow vegetables to blend into smoothies and dehydrate into healthy snacks as they learn about physical wellness and good food choices, according to the commission.

They’re starting younger at Bakersfield’s Evergreen Elementary School, where grant funds purchased raised garden beds, soil, compost and gardening tools for … kindergarteners, who will learn about how food grows in a project titled “Our Kinder Garden is Blooming!”

Coachella Valley

The Coachella Valley’s three projects include Rancho Mirage High School’s sensory garden for special education students, a career girls’ day at Palm Desert High School and a hydrogen fuel cell car science project at Bobby Duke Middle School in Coachella, according to the commission.

San Joaquin Valley

The other grants went to educators in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties. Their projects include mobile app development at Kingsburg High School, landscape management at Porterville High School and designing and building 3-D printed cars for safety during collisions at Riverdale High School.

The school grants are one of several community service-oriented programs undertaken each year by the commission, which is mainly funded by grower assessments of 11.5 cents for every 19 pounds of grapes. For more than 30 years, the commission has offered grants of up to $20,000 over four years for farmworkers or their children who wish to continue their education at a California university or community college.

More than 100 such scholarships have been given over the years and used to help fund studies in areas such as human biology, civil engineering, biochemistry, and culinary arts, according to the commission.

For more information on the “Innovation in Teaching” grants, go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com/community-outreach/ .

For more news on pests, disease management and other issues affecting vineyards, subscribe to the bi-monthly newsletter The Grape Line.

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