A local educator has been honored as the first recipient of the Sandi Gist Langiano Agricultural Award.

Strathmore's Judie Church was selected to receive the award by the Tulare County Farm Bureau's Education Committee.

The award was established in 2021 to honor the memory of the late Sandi Gist Langiano. Langiano was the Education Committee's chair and worked as a volunteer for 24 years. She was known as a staunch supporter of agricultural education, as an avid gardener and as a fan of agriculture in general.

Church was nominated by the Tulare County 4-H program along with the Prairie Center 4-H and Tulare County Cattlewomen for her service and leadership. Church is a member of both organizations.

The award was presented on Wednesday at the farm bureau's annual meeting in Tulare. Church received a $1,000 gift for her school or charity of her choice.

Church grew up on a small ranch in Calaveras County and was active in 4-H and FFA. She atttended Fresno State and worked alongside her future husband Joel as a student herdsman in the San Joaquin Experimental Range program raising cattle on forest service land.

Church eventually earned her teaching credential and began as a student teacher at Belleview Elementary School. She has been a third grade teacher at the school for 32 years.

Church and her husband also raise Angus cross cattle. Church is also an accomplished photographer. She has served as secretary, vice president and president of the Tulare County Cattlewomen's Association and as the scholarship chair for the organization for several years. She's also the social media chair for the organization.

Church was chosen to receive the award for her commitment to bring agricultural literacy into the classroom. She works to connect her third graders with many farm and agricultural life experiences.

She has taken them on field trips to the Ag Ventures Learning Center, Circle J-Norris Ranch and Kleinhams Farm. She has used various teaching materials from the CA Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

She has supported agricultural feed days and has been involved in the Tulare County Cattlewomen's effort to teach about beef facts and beef cattle. She participates in the farm bureau's art calendar contest each year and uses the Agriculture in the Classroom series, What's Growin on Classroom Newspaper in Education materials. Church has made it a priority to take her students on field trips to see agriculture first hand.

“It's really difficult to find time to teach agriculture literacy with all the mandates on teachers these days, but I work hard to find ways to make sure the children that pass through my classroom learn about agriculture as much as possible,” Church told the farm bureau.


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