Dorothy Peterson of Davis has been honored as one of the 3rd California Senate District’s Women of the Year, recognizing her commitment to farm-to-school programs in Davis that now serve as the model for many communities across the state.
“For nearly four decades, Dorothy Peterson has served Davis and Yolo County as a committed educator and community leader,” state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said in announcing the award. “She taught generations of students in Davis what it takes to grow the fresh produce we put on our dinner tables, and continues to play a vital role in the region’s Farm to Fork movement.
“She also created a recycling and waste management program that has succeeded in diverting and recycling over half of Davis Joint Unified School District’s waste from landfills. I’m proud to honor her as a 2014 Woman of the Year.”
During her 37-year career with the Davis Joint Unified School District, Peterson taught special education as well as second and third grades. She incorporated garden-based learning techniques into her teaching, and encouraged students to cook with their families.
After retiring, Peterson continued to serve the school district by helping establish gardens at all of Davis’ schools. She also created and implemented the DavisRISE waste management program at nine elementary schools and two junior high schools, diverting and recycling more than half of the school waste from landfills and saving the schools thousands of dollars in garbage fees.
“I took all the things I loved about teaching with me — gardening, nutrition and waste management,” Peterson said. “I don’t feel like I’m all used up.”
Since 1999, Peterson has served on multiple boards and committees, including the Farm to School Connection Steering Committee, Davis Educational Foundation, Yolo Farm to Fork program, Cool Davis Steering Committee, Central Park Gardens Steering Committee, California School Garden Network Sustainability Committee and Yolo County Waste Advisory Committee.
Every March, the Senate celebrates Women’s History Month by honoring women whose contributions improve lives in their communities, a tradition dating back to 1987. This year, Wolk also honored Courtney Williams Kett, Dana Williams Martin and Melissa Williams Taylor.