Visalia Teacher Honored by Ag in the Classroom

Taylor Hillman General

Julie Cates
Visalia, California, teacher Julie Cates is recognized as Outstanding Educator of the Year by California Ag in the Classroom for utilization of The Produce Mom®’s #ProduceChallenge & Find Your Favorite® program to teach academic standards.

Cates is a sixth-grade teacher at Linwood Elementary in Visalia, California. Cates has been an active social media follower of The Produce Mom since 2012. In the summer of 2015, Cates partnered with Lori Taylor, owner of The Produce Mom, to craft the expansion Find Your Favorite to include academic lessons, in-class tasting parties of fresh produce and the #ProduceChallenge calendar.

Since August 2015, Julie Cates’ sixth grade class has been sampling different produce items on Fridays, collecting data surrounding the sampling experience, and sharing the findings on social media with hashtag #FindYourFavoriteFridays. The sixth-grade students are responsible for analyzing the sampling data, which includes metrics First Time to Try, Loved It, Not My Favorite. The Find Your Favorite Hero testimonials, such as NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne’s apple video, are available to encourage the students to eat more fruits and vegetables. The Friday Find Your Favorite samplings have been such a success, the program has expanded to include #TryItTuesdays.

The incorporation of fresh produce happens throughout the week in Julie Cates’ class, often correlating with The Produce Mom’s #ProduceChallenge. Recently the students learned about fractions by dissecting Mann’s sugar snap peas. Academic standards from both the Common Core & Next Generation Science Standards are fulfilled and cited during Cates’ #FindYourFavoriteFridays & #ProduceChallenge activation.

“Julie has an authentic passion for Agriculture,” explained Lori Taylor. “Her collaboration & innovation have been instrumental in the growth of The Produce Mom’s educational program, Find Your Favorite. I am honored that she plans to expand upon the work we do together to promote other sectors of Ag, such as dairy.”

Cates will be formally recognized next week at the California Farm Bureau Convention. She will represent the state of California at the National Ag in the Classroom Conference, taking place in Arizona, June 20-24, 2016.

To follow Julie Cates’ promotion of fresh produce in the classroom, connect with @Cates_Julie on Twitter.