About Cotton's Journey-A Field Trip In A Box
This educational program is designed to give inquisitive minds a whole unit experience through the provided teacher’s guide & classroom resources. The curriculum puts into practice the inquiry-based approach and meets many National Education Standards for all disciplines. Lessons are written for grades 1-8; lists objectives and the standards fulfilled; and follow a simple format to allow for quick reference, flexibility and time efficiency. Cotton’s Journey wants to give you, the educator, ownership of this unit by determining where each lesson fits into your classroom plan and the opportunity to combine curriculum that supports national recommendations. Students will be challenged by open-ended discussions, group learning and hands-on activities.
Cotton's Journey Mission
To educate and inform educators and their students of the benefits that the cotton industry provides to the communities that we live in. The general public has been provided with limited information of the production and origin of their food and fiber supply. The Alaca Company, producer of "Cotton's Journey-A Field Trip In A Box", is dedicated to supporting educators as they teach our next generation about the multi-disciplinary aspects of cotton, and while building a communications bridge between the cotton industry and education.
News In The Field, Monsanto Newletter, 2006
Farmer has passion to educate consumers
Janette Yribarren is taking cotton's story to the masses.
Farmers hear the same old saw about consumers: When asked about farms the consumer always says "why do I have to worry about farms I get my food from the grocery store." While this tongue-in-cheek portrayal of city attitudes is partly in fun, there's a kernel of truth to the fact that consumers are getting farther from the land. And that change is pulling them away from a solid understanding about agriculture.
The Ag in the Classroom program has worked long and hard to bring food's story to students who's nearest ag relative might be a great grandparent. One champion of the idea is Janette Yribarren, who has taken her program about cotton's journey to an advanced level.
"We felt like the consumer just didn't know enough," says this Tranquillity, Calif., farm wife, who along with her husband Rick, has put their agriculture background to use in creating Cotton's Journey, an extensive program of materials teachers can use to tell the story of this key fiber crop. “I was raised on a cotton farm with five sisters. My father had no sons to delegate chores to, so when he needed an extra irrigator or tractor driver one of us girls was it.” She continues, “I know what makes a farmer risk a year’s wages and sometimes work 12-14 hour days. I also believe that it is a profession grossly misunderstood and unappreciated.”
Driven by worries that agriculture was portrayed as one of the environmental evils of the world, Yribarren went beyond a basic look at how cotton is grown to include a wide range of information, cultural details and history. "It is the journey of cotton," she says. "This program is designed as a thematic classroom resource meeting all National Educational Standards."
Telling the whole story
The crop's journey, which started 7,000 years ago, covers a wide range of information, even confronting an issue that some cotton farmers probably wish was left out. "Cotton many times is connected to slavery," Yribarren notes. "We need to tear down that negative connotation and through this program we celebrate the richness of our heritage. Cotton was an important source of income before the Civil War, and after the war many freed slaves were given the opportunity and became cotton farmers themselves."
Yribarren’s family continues to raise cotton. She is a devout evangelist for getting agriculture's message to consumers, even enlisting a sympathetic writer in a conversation about telling Ag's story to as many people as possible.
"When I meet English majors I encourage them to consider ag journalism, to get them to tell our story," she notes. Over the 13 years since Cotton's Journey first became available, Yribarren has encountered teachers who are not interested in the Ag message, but she remarks that there are many dynamic and progressive educators who want the whole story in their classrooms.
"During the birth of the Cotton’s Journey program, the California Cotton Inc. State Support Committee was the only State committee providing funds specifically for cotton education. Now through the generous funding of several Cotton Foundation members, such as Monsanto, teachers may receive scholarship kits for attending a cotton education seminar, throughout the U.S. each year.” The program, which is available for sale at www.cottonsjourney.com gives teachers all the tools they need for cotton study in the classroom. The curriculum includes over 130 lessons and activities for grades K-8, and provides instruction on how-to incorporate the information into the four core subjects.
Yribarren proudly says, “This program has earned the trust of teachers, not all commodity education programs have accomplished that.”
Yribarren notes that the Web site, and the accompanying phone number teachers can use, is a "hotline to the farm." She says that often teachers will call and are happy to talk to someone down on the farm. "They like hearing directly from someone who is involved in agriculture," she says. “We want every student studying cotton to watch the plant develop into fruit and then into fiber. If there is a crop failure in the classroom, we haven’t met our goal.” Yribarren concludes, “It’s been my experience that students who are introduced to Cotton’s Journey program are better informed on the cloth, food and by-products that originate from cotton. They are much more appreciative of what farmers and agriculture provide for them.”