Like many other nonprofits and businesses, San Diego Ag in the Classroom has had to reorient and adjust quickly as a result of the pandemic. Looking back at 2020 so far, we learned how nimble, flexible, and resilient we can be when put to the test. We had to dip into our reserves to maintain our programming, but we are in this with everyone else and will pull through in the coming years. Our thoughts are with all of the essential service farm owners and workers who have worked exhaustively to provide for the general public during this time.
In January 2020 we were proud to award $10,000 worth of school garden grants to 8 local schools. Despite the unexpected change to our income this year, we knew that school budgets would be under even greater strain in the 2020-2021 grant cycle. Therefore, we feel it is imperative we once again offer the Garden Support Program to help local school garden and ag programs stay active.
Most schools moved to “distance learning” in the spring, so we repositioned in turn. SDAITC entered into new territory with the development of online video “field trips” showcasing local farms and the diversity of ways that they are adapting to and addressing climate change. Funded by SDG&E and with in-kind support from TMD Creative, three videos were created along with lesson plans appropriate for grades 6 to 12. The web page, Discover San Diego Agriculture, will be housed on the SDAITC website and will debut in January 2021. Our vision is to produce five more behind the scenes farm videos to inspire and inform.
The work of SDAITC is conducted almost exclusively by volunteers who serve on its Board of Directors. The board grew to 9 members this year, who contribute their time and expertise without compensation to support and advance ag literacy. In our continued effort to develop transparent internal processes, we created materials to help onboard our new members quickly and confidently. We also worked to document procedures. These back-of-the-house details may be hidden from public view, but they are so vital to keeping an organization healthy and sustainable into the future and through transitions.
Communication & Outreach
We increased our outreach to the farming community by publishing regular articles in the Farm Bureau’s quarterly newsletter, as well as increasing our number of Facebook posts and website updates. Lastly, we established partnerships that can be leveraged to support schools beyond what our dollars can.
We continue to cultivate donor relationships, and examine new ways to increase revenue that can help grow our programs. For example, we now accept online donations! We’ve also begun spreading the word to local civic groups through a short presentation about local agriculture and ag education. If you’d like a speaker, just let us know!