Where Your Food Grows & Grazes Program Offers Hope to Future Generations

December 14, 2018 by Mary Bondar

California Rangeland Trust gives back to the community through an impactful partnership with Raley’s Giving and AT&T Aspire. The Where Your Food Grows and Grazes program connects urban youth to agriculture, conservation, nutrition, and healthy lifestyles by offering an educational Farm- to- Fork experience.

Since its pilot in 2015, the program has hosted 17 tours in Northern California. On each trip, students visit a local Raley’s supermarket and then a working ranch, fostering tangible connections to the land, the livestock, and the people who steward our working landscapes.

Students from Sunol Elementary tour their local Raley's

“As a fifth-generation rancher in the Bay Area, I see the growing disconnect between consumers and agriculture,” said Clayton Koopmann, ranch owner of Walking C Livestock and Rangeland Trust Board Member. “This program provides us with an opportunity to share with our youth where their food is produced, the hard work and daily care it takes to raise these animals, and the sustainable land management practices we implement to ensure healthy landscapes for future generations.”

Rangeland Trust Board Director, Clayton Koopmann, teaches a group of young people how to saddle a horse

Over the past few months, the Rangeland Trust coordinated three unique ranch tours for K-12 students. Thanks to the Koopmann Family, students from Sunol Glen Elementary learned about beekeeping and beef by-products from California Beef Council specialists on their Koopmann Ranch tour. When youth from Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County visited the Oak Ridge Angus Ranch, they heard from a Redwood Empire Food Bank guest speaker about the impact of the ranch’s annual beef donations to the local food bank. They even got a special surprise: The chance to witness two cows give birth to tiny, healthy calves! During the Rana Ranch tour in Jackson, agricultural education students received a hands-on history lesson at the 19th- century stagecoach on the ranch.

Better than any classroom, these tours demonstrated the positive impact ranchers have on their communities. Students walked away understanding how rangelands provide clean air to breath, fresh water to drink, healthy food to eat, and beautiful open spaces to cherish. But most of all, they forged their own connections to the land and the people who steward it.

Tim and Melinda Koopmann from the Koopmann Ranch lead a group of students on a tour

There is no doubt that the incredible efforts of the program sponsors, ranchers, and volunteers have helped change the lives of many students in California. The proof is in the pasture: Rangelands really are a special place that offers hope to our future generations