|Mary Maranville, founder and CEO of Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG), received the Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award for Nonprofits. Each year, WEV celebrates outstanding women business owners from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties in 10 industry categories. The awards were announced during a live virtual ceremony on May 21. Over 150 business leaders and community members attended.
“The SOE Awards are a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and honor these amazing women for the hard work they have put in to keep their businesses thriving. This year’s winners are even more inspirational when you factor in the challenges presented throughout the past year,” said Kathy Odell, CEO of WEV.
Maranville created SEEAG in 2008 in memory of her father. “Marvin Maranville was a third generation dairy farmer in upstate New York,” says Maranville about her father. “He taught me the value of food through his love of farming and hard work.”
Maranville says, “I started SEEAG because I discovered there is a complete disconnect between children and the origins of their food. If you ask a child where lettuce comes from, most will probably tell you ‘from the supermarket’.” Educating students about where and how their food is grown and the need to respect the land, farmers and farm workers is her mission.
During the 2008-09 school year, Maranville reached 492 students with her message. Today, her team has educated over 60,000 students throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
SEEAG’s “Food & Farm Lab” program provides schools with classroom agricultural education and field trips to farms. Its Child Wellness Initiative in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties educates, inspires and empowers children to eat healthy by adding locally grown fruits and vegetables to their diet to help ward off childhood obesity that could lead to diabetes. All on-site school programs and farm field trips are always cost free. SEEAG also coordinates Ventura County Farm Day and Santa Barbara County Farm Day each year where farms open their doors to the public.
“We are fortunate to live in counties where there is a rich agricultural heritage,” says Maranville. “It allows us to see up close all that’s required to ensure we have a continuous supply of fresh food for our tables.”