Swall Leads Discussion Team to Fourth Consecutive State Team Title

By Fresno State Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Fresno State agricultural education and communication students continued their team success at the state discussion contest with a win in the team category at an event hosted Saturday, Nov. 13 in Bakersfield by the California Farm Bureau and Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) organization.

In the individual competition, junior Lindsey Swall (Tulare) took runner-up honors in the competition that was won by Braden Crosson, a Modesto Junior College student.

Two other Fresno State students, agricultural education seniors Brendan Black (Fresno) and Corie Falaschi (Dos Palos), advanced to the four-person final. Freshman agricultural education student Alexandra Saenz (Gorman) also competed at the event.

Swall received $750 as an award, while Black and Falaschi received $500 awards. Fresno State received $250 as the team winner, and Crosson received $1,250 as the individual winner.

Finalists competed in multiple rounds and were scored on their ability to encourage active and positive group discussion, suggest solutions, and reach a consensus.

Five potential discussion topics that were provided in advance asked contestants for ways to increase YF&R membership and participation; how to improve the economic viability of animal processing facilities while ensuring worker health and healthy products; practices to promote better mental health for farmers and their families; methods to increase the amount of preventative farm safety practices; and how the Farm Bureau can help farmers and ranchers integrate more ‘green energy’ practices.

Under the guidance of animal sciences and agricultural education department chair Dr. Steven Rocca, Fresno State discussion teams have won nine state team titles, and others came in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2008 and 2006.

2021-12-30T13:40:53-08:00December 30th, 2021|

Four Students Selected to Represent Real California Milk in Asia, Mexico

Student Ambassadors Share California Dairy Message with International Audiences 

News Release

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has selected four students to serve as interns in the second year of the international dairy leadership program. Jessica Brown, Stefani Christieson, KayCee Hartwig-Dittman and Makayla Toste will serve as dairy representatives, working with marketing teams representing CMAB during the summer in Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan.

The interns, selected from students enrolled in agriculture-related programs at colleges and universities throughout the state, were chosen based on academic achievement, connection to the dairy industry, and a willingness to travel abroad and learn more about international dairy sales and marketing as well as a plan to work in the California dairy industry in the future.dairy cattle

Over the six-week period, each intern will spend time with in-country CMAB marketing organizations—Brown in Taiwan, Christieson and Hartwig-Dittman in South Korea and Toste in Mexico—to gain a better understanding of these markets, consumer buying habits, and promotional efforts on behalf of California’s dairy industry.

Brown is currently enrolled at Fresno State, majoring in agriculture business. She was raised on her family’s vineyard in Tracy and has always had a passion for agriculture. Her desire to learn about agriculture outside of the U.S. has provided her with opportunities to study abroad, most recently in Spain. Because of her love of travel and learning about other cultures, Jessica is focusing on international marketing at college, with plans to work in this field of study upon graduation in 2020. Brown is a member of the agriculture marketing team at Fresno State and will be working with Steven Chu and Associates in Taipei, Taiwan.

Christieson is a recent graduate of the UC Davis, where she received her B.S. in Political Science and minors in economics and French. She will be attending graduate school in the fall at Sciences Po in Paris, France, for a year and then will complete the program at Fudan University in Shanghai, China in year two. Christieson plans to complete her master’s degree in international economic policy and pursue a career as agriculture economic policy advisor for an agriculture export market organization to help California farmers continue to expand into emerging and established markets overseas. Christieson will be working with Sohn’s Market Makers, Ltd. in S. Korea.

Hartwig-Dittman is currently enrolled at Fresno State, where she is majoring in dairy science and is employed at the dairy unit on campus. She has a culinary arts degree from Diablo Valley Community College and has experience working in the restaurant industry in California. Her love of travel and food has allowed her to travel outside of the U.S., where she has learned to use dairy products in new and creative ways with hopes to find innovative ways to introduce dairy to consumers around the world. Hartwig-Dittman will also be working with Sohn’s Market Makers, Ltd. in South Korea.

 Toste, a second-generation dairy farmer from Newman, received her B.S. degree in Animal Science with an emphasis in dairy science. During her last year at Fresno State, Toste served as the assistant herdsman for the Fresno State dairy unit, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the dairy and an officer for the Fresno State Dairy Club. After the internship, she plans to work in the California dairy industry in promotion and marketing to help keep the industry viable for the next generation of farmers. Toste will serve as an intern with the team at Imalinx in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

“California accounts for more than 33 percent of all U.S. dairy exports so international trade is essential for our continued growth. Over the last decade, the CMAB has worked closely with partners in Asia and Mexico to develop markets for California dairy products. This program is focused on providing insight into international dairy marketing for future leaders like Jessica, Stefani, KayCee, and Makayla, who will work in the dairy business and one day serve on dairy industry boards and lead industry groups,” said Glenn Millar, Director of International Business Development for the CMAB.

The goal of the CMAB International Internship program is to provide agriculture/dairy college students an opportunity to learn about dairy foods and marketing in the international marketplace. The program looks to develop leaders who will serve on dairy industry boards and work in dairy foods production, processing, or sales/marketing.

2021-05-12T11:17:08-07:00July 12th, 2019|

Westlands Water District Announces Scholarship Winners

Westlands Water District Announces Recipients of the Six West Side Scholarships

News Release

Westlands Water District awarded scholarships to six high school seniors in recognition of the students’ exceptional academic achievement. Each recipient, all of whom are from west side communities, will receive $1,000 towards their community college or university expenses. Applicants were judged on their academic performance, school activities, and community leadership, and each applicant submitted an essay on an agricultural-related topic.

The District congratulates the following 2019 scholarships winners:

Joe Cardiel III, a senior at Firebaugh High School. Cardiel plans to attend Fresno State, where he will major in Agriculture Education, with plans to pursue a career as an agricultural educator.

Cardiel is a varsity basketball and varsity baseball player and FFA chapter secretary. As a Firebaugh high school student, Cardiel was honored with the Eagle Baseball award, FFA State Degree, and FFA Outstanding senior.

Marvin Cornejo, a senior at Mendota High School. Cornejo is an honors student who plans to attend Fresno State to pursue a degree in Chemistry. Following college, Cornejo aspires to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

Cornejo is a Mendota School Board student representative; a West Side Youth volunteer; an avid athlete involved in track &field, cross country wrestling and soccer; and an FFA Greenhand and Chapter degree holder.

Myriam Castro, a senior at Tranquility High School. Castro will graduate in the top five of her class. Castro plans to attend Fresno State, where she will major in Criminology.

During her time at Tranquility High School, Castro was involved in the Honor Guard and the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) and obtained the ROP Criminal Justice certificate of completion and the State Seal of Biliteracy.

Peter Hawken, a senior at Lemoore High School. Hawken was honored as the Chemistry Student of the Year. Following graduation, Hawken will attend the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he will major in Environmental Science. With his degree, Hawken aims to pursue a career as an environmental and agricultural irrigation specialist.

Hawken is the Varsity Soccer team captain, both the soccer and tennis club president and is involved in Jesus Club and a California Scholarship Federation life member.

Jazmin A. Murillo, a senior at Coalinga High School. Murillo plans to attend West Hills College Coalinga, where she will major in Political Science and film. Following college, Murillo plans to pursue a career as a paralegal and as a film director.

Murillo is the editor-in-chief of the Coalinga High School Magazine, President of the After School Program Leadership Club and VIDA club, and was on the Principal’s Honor Roll from 2015 to 2019. Murillo has also been honored with the Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award, first place in the Chevron Robotics Challenge and as a National Hispanic Scholar.

Emma Andrade, a senior at Riverdale High School. Andrade is an honor roll student who plans to attend Fresno State, where she will major in Physics and plans to pursue a career as an experimental physicist.

Andrade plays varsity basketball and tennis and has been involved with Rural Route 4-H since 2010, continually holding leadership positions, such as Corresponding Secretary and Camp Director. Andrade has been honored with the Academic All-League Team and Letter, County Heartbeat Artistry Award and All-League First Team Varsity Tennis.

Westlands is honored to recognize and assist these outstanding students; as reiterated by Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, “these scholarships represent a small gesture of thanks and support to the communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that make our region productive and vibrant. Our hope is that these students will continue to contribute to their communities and make them even better for future generations.”

2019-06-27T17:27:38-07:00June 27th, 2019|

College Scholarships Available from Westlands Water District

Westlands Water District Announces 2019 Scholarship Application with May 1oth Deadline

Westlands Water District is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for the District’s annual scholarship program. This is the thirteenth consecutive year the District will provide scholarships to recognize and reward exceptional academic achievement and leadership by graduating seniors.

Scholarships are awarded to students from the following west side high schools: Coalinga, Firebaugh, Lemoore, Mendota, Riverdale, and Tranquility.

“These scholarships represent a small gesture of thanks and support to the communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that contribute to making our region productive and vibrant,” said Tom Birmingham, Westlands’ general manager. “We hope the recipients of these scholarships will continue to contribute to their communities and make them even better for future generations.”

Each scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 to be used for college expenses. Applicants are judged on their academic performance, school activities, and community leadership.

Past scholarship recipients have enrolled into California State University, Fresno; University of California, Berkeley; California Polytechnic State University; University of California, Los Angeles; West Hills Community College; and more.

Applications and all supporting documents are due by May 10 and may be submitted by mail to P.O. Box 6056, Fresno, CA 93703 or in person to 3130 N. Fresno Street, Fresno, between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For an application and list of instructions, please contact the public affairs office at (559) 241-6233 or visit https://wwd.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/scholarship-application.pdf.

2019-04-11T17:00:35-07:00April 11th, 2019|

Study: Remote Sensing of Weeds on Vineyards Has Merit

Aerial Sensing Of Weeds Saves Time and Labor

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

There is a potential use of remote sensing with drones and vineyard weed management. Working on that research is Cody Drake, a senior at California State University, Fresno. He’s working with Luca Brillante, an assistant professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Anil Shrestha is chair and professor, also in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at Fresno State. Drake’s research is at a vineyard in Napa County.

“The goal of my research is to make weed management practices in vineyards a little more efficient,” Drake said.

Currently, there is a lot of manpower, money, and time going into scouting for weeds and spraying.

“What we did with the drone is we wanted to map high-pressure weed zones to target spray in the field instead of spraying the entire field,” Drake explained.

This aerial scouting is hoping to become more efficient for time and labor.

“It’s all based on imagery. The drone gives us waypoints as to the areas where we need to spray. We have a company that’s called Drone Deploy, and they go through, and they stitch all the photos together,” Drake said.

Drake’s research has only been on vineyards so far, and his research has been proven to work.

“We did a 30-meter flight and a 10-meter flight, and that just shows the difference in how close you can get to identifying weeds species on the ground at a 30 meter height,” he said.

At 30 meters, it was very hard to tell which species was which. At 10 meters, the weeds were more identifiable.

“We would prefer to do another trial with a higher resolution camera. That way we can see the species, identify them a little easier and a little more efficiently,” Drake said.

By doing this, Drake and his team can pinpoint where the heavyweights are and just go spray that one area. For future research, they are going to try a camera with higher resolution to see if it can see through a denser vineyard.

2021-05-12T11:05:04-07:00April 1st, 2019|

Alkaliweed Alert! Your Help is Needed!

Information Needed on A New Plant Called Alkaliweed 

By James Schaeffer, Kurt Hembree, and Anil Shrestha, Graduate Student CSU, Fresno, UCCE, Fresno County, and Professor, CSU, Fresno

Pistachio growers and consultants in the southern San Joaquin Valley have recently reported an invasion of a new plant (alkaliweed) along irrigation ditches, roadsides, and into their orchards. Alkaliweed is a California native perennial plant that seems to be rapidly spreading throughout the region.

In some cases, this weed has completely taken over pistachio orchards in a matter of a couple of years after first being spotted. Thus far, repeated applications of postemergence herbicides have only yielded minimal control effects.

Alkaliweed in the field.

Unfortunately, little information is known to date about specific biological and ecological characteristics of this weedy plant, so we are asking for your assistance to help us identify where specifically it has become a problem for you. With this information, we will better be able to understand its growth characteristics and hopefully develop control measures to mitigate the problem.

Studies are currently under way to look at some of these growth characteristics (such as response to salinity, light, and moisture). Your input of where it has become a problem for you and your growers is critical for us to be successful.

Please follow the link https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/1f4753edfd7347ce84cc81f35e65dc02     to take a quick survey on alkaliweed in your area. Your help on this important weed issue is greatly appreciated!

2021-05-12T11:05:05-07:00March 22nd, 2019|

Fresno State Student Studies Palmer Amaranth

Sami Budhathoki Finds Palmer Amaranth Can Adapt to Saline Soils

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Palmer Amaranth

Sami Budhathoki is in the last semester of her undergrad degree at Fresno State. She spoke with California Ag Today recently about her research on how the Palmer Amaranth can adapt to saline soils in the San Joaquin Valley. Palmer amaranth as among the most troublesome weeds in agriculture because it is a very prolific seed producer and very tough to control due to widespread glyphosate escapes. It is found throughout California.

Her major advisor is Anil Shrestha, a professor in weed science at Fresno State. Budhathoki presented her research at a recent California Weed Science Society Meeting in Sacramento.

“I treated soils with five different salt levels, and I found out that the weed likes that higher salt levels, and they did fine, and they all germinated,” Budhathoki said.

Based on the pictures on Budhathoki’s poster, the Amaranth grew better in soils with higher salinities.

“That gives us the hint that Fresno is more resistant for the Palmer Amaranth plants because the west side has a lot of salt in its soil,” she said.

That is why it is hard to control in those areas, especially because they propagate so easily.

Budhathoki gave California Ag Today more insight on her research.

“Before treating the soil with salt, the plants were all the same height and same size. After the treatment, you can see the differences in how each plant reacted to the salt,” she said.

We asked Budhathoki what it was like working with such a troublesome weed in the ag industry.

“It was my first time working with Palmer Amaranth; it was a good experience,” she said.

Budhathoki says that she thinks there will be more research on this weed in the future so that farmers can find out how to better control it.

2021-05-12T11:05:05-07:00February 25th, 2019|

Many Questions Around SGMA Law

SGMA Law is Poorly Written

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

A recent meeting brought farmers and other stakeholders to California State University, Fresno to discuss the possible impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

SGMA requires governments and water agencies of high and medium priority groundwater basins to halt overdraft pumping and to bring those basins in equal levels between pumping and recharge. Under SGMA, these basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of implementing their sustainability plans. For critically over drafted basins, that will be 2040. For the remaining high and medium priority basins, 2042 is the deadline.

Don Wright,the publisher of WaterWrights.net, which is the only agriculture water reporting service in the Valley, spoke om the topic.

“SGMA is an overwhelming concept for most people because it’s an overwhelmingly poorly written law,” Wright said. “However, you show me anybody more creative than a farmer trying to get water. Hopefully, people left [the meeting] with the hope that others are looking out for solutions.”

Farmers and other stakeholders attended a recent SGMA meeting at California State University, Fresno.

Wright explained that the meeting helps blunt the impacts, the intended consequences, and the unintended consequences that come from legislation like this.

On the panel were farmers, agronomist, soil engineers, farmers, and a water attorney.

“All of these people are intimately involved in how the junction between water being delivered to the plants and harvest taken place. A lot of questions were answered, more importantly, we started defining the issues that need to be asked. And often that’s often the most critical step,” Wright said.

Lauren Layne, a water law attorney with Baker Manock and Jensen, suggested that farmers take action and put meters on their wells to start collecting data that could be of use to them.

“That’s a double edge sword,” Wright said. “For one it’s, it’s like putting a GPS on your vehicle for the government to follow you around. You don’t want that. You don’t want the government necessarily know how much water you’re using. But on the other side, if you keep that information private, once SGMA starts being implemented, and you can prove that you’ve used X amount of water, you can report your average cost per acre. Also, if a farmer is in an area with surface deliveries, how much does the surface deliveries impact your pumping? That’s a great combination to have.”

Wright said if the industry can get enough information, then they can report that the reason the farming industry needs to repair aquifers is due to cut offs from the deliveries to farmers.

Service providers, product manufacturers, and designers are looking at solutions to SGMA. These products can be seen at Fresno State’s Water Energy and Technology (WET) Center.

“It’s all about how can we keep farmers farming,” Wright said. “I know when a farmer is by himself and your back is against the wall, people are looking out for you.”

Wright also explained that the people that are populating the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) boards are not the enemy.

“They are men and women like you and I, with a stake in it. They are not the ones trying to cut off the water; they are the ones with boots on the ground dealing with a poorly written law.”

2018-12-05T15:26:30-08:00December 5th, 2018|

Sound Science Funding for Farmers

Funding for Sound Science is Critical

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Increased funding to make farming easier is a priority, an expert told California Ag Today recently. LaKisha Odom is the science program director for the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research based in Washington, DC. Funding sound science is a goal for the foundation.

“We are interested in increasing the amount of funding that is available to make farming and decision making easier,” Odom said.

This is all based on sound science. Their foundation base depends on the readily available funding.

“We match public-private dollars and increase that amount of funding available to fund sound science,” she explained.

The funding is for foundations and agencies that will assist farmers.

“The universities, industry partners, foundations and the research that’s funded by those entities can then inform those decision makers to assist those farmers who are making those decisions,” she said.

“We were provided $200 million dollars in the 2014 Farm Bill,” Odom added.

There are seven challenge areas that the foundation focuses on: water scarcity; urban agriculture; food waste; food loss; making my plate your plate, which focuses on nutrition; protein challenge, which focuses on animal sustainability; and innovation pathways.

Fresno State is one of the founding partners.

“I’m working with the irrigation innovation consortium, which is a consortium of university partners as well as industry partners, and Fresno State is one of our partners in that,” Odom said.

They are working with Dr. Davis at Fresno State for ways in which they can make innovations in irrigation and make water issues a little less challenging for farmers.

2021-05-12T11:05:09-07:00October 8th, 2018|

Central Valley Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum, Nov. 1, 2018

Big Event Expands Innovation In Water and Energy Savings

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Following the success of last year’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship event, the Forum will take place on Thursday, November 1, 2018, at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.

The Forum combines the Central Valley Venture Forum and Central Valley Stock Exchange – two events that in the past have shaped the entrepreneurial landscape in the valley and became the most significant event for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Central Valley.

Laura Ramos is the Communications and Marketing Manager for the Water, Energy, and Technology (WET) Center at CSU Fresno. She noted that Forum has three distinct sections.

“First, we want anybody that’s interested in entrepreneurship and investment to come and learn about entrepreneurship and what technologies and services are available to them and just to learn about investment opportunities for them,” Ramos said.

Secondly, there is the popular Showcase for Ag Tech Entrepreneurs with a goal of saving water and energy on the farm. “Applications are due Sept. 15th. And from those that apply, we’re going to select the top five. And representatives from these five companies are going to get to pitch at the forum,” Ramos said. “And while they pitch, we have a panel of investors and judges that will select the winner. The winner will receive an award either from the investor and the judge’s award, or a potential investment from an angel group.”

Thirdly, is what’s known as the Central Valley Stock Exchange. It’s very similar to a trade show where your company can exhibit. However, the exhibitors are vying for Bulldog dollars from the audience. Ramos said $1 million of bulldog monopoly money is given to each person that attends. “The entrepreneur’s job is to try to get the most investment from the attendees. And at the end of the night, the company with the most bulldog investment dollars gets to win the audience award.

For more information on the Central Valley Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum go to cvieforum.com.

2021-05-12T11:05:09-07:00September 7th, 2018|
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