Wasco High School Students Attend Bakersfield College

High School Students Gain Interest in Agriculture

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Sophia Marin is a lab assistant at UC Cooperative Extension Kern County, and she also is an adjunct professor at Bakersfield College in a dual enrollment program with Wasco High School. She is helping high school students attend Bakersfield college at the same time.

“The students are in the 11th grade, so by the time that they’re done with high school, they’ll have their high school diploma plus an Associate Degree from Bakersfield College,” Marin said. “They’re essentially doing two schools in one,  and at the college, they attend lectures and they have a lab.

California Ag Today met Marin and her students at a California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board meeting in Kern County.

“We have been discussing different pathogens that affect plant growth. The carrot meeting was a great opportunity to actually hear the researchers, instead of reading a textbook and me going over it,” Marin said. “They got to see it real life, and I thought it would be a more memorable and something that they could grasp.”

Wasco High School Students Who Also Attend Bakersfield College

Marin explained that since the students come from the rural area of Wasco, most have an interest in agriculture.

“And by the end of this next year, they will all receive an agricultural business degree from Bakersfield College,” she said.

“It will depend on them what the students do the degree. So whatever I can instill or spark in them to whatever career path they want to go to. It may be agronomy, pathology or research, it’s all on them,” Marin said. “It’s nice to open their eyes to see more.”

She noted that most of the kids have plans to go to a university. “I am very impressed with them. Some of the terminology that I mention, I might say I wonder if they know about this or that,” she said. “But they do know. When I’m speaking to them, they understand, and if they don’t, they will research an idea themselves. I am very impressed.”

“These students work very hard. They have weekend classes and summer classes. I am very proud of these students,” Marin said.

Social Media Tips for Moveable Middle

Educating the Moveable Middle, One Picture at a Time

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With technological advancements that enable everyone to share stories on social media at the click of a button, farmers now have the ability to educate the public beyond the news that chocolate milk does not, in fact, come from brown cows. Casey Kinler, Communications Manager with the Animal Ag Alliance based out of Arlington, Virginia, is urging farmers to capitalize on this opportunity.

moveable middle“The problem is … [consumers] don’t hear from farmers too often,” Kinler said. “They hear a lot from the other side.”

Sharing their agricultural story can be as simple as one photo a day with a beneficial, detailed explanation that will protect it from being taken out of context.

“Stay honest and be that relatable person that people can ask questions to,” Kinler advised.

It is important that producers are engaged in conversations with those optimistic and interested in where their food comes from. Kinler calls this the moveable middle and encourages this to be the focal point for farmers.

“Have a conversation with those people and don’t waste your time on people who are trying to detract your message,” she concluded.

Social Media Critical To Reach Consumers

Animal Ag Alliance Promotes Social Media to Bridge the Gap Between Farm and Fork

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

In the age of social media, facilitating the connection between producer and consumer is more accessible than ever. Casey Kinler, Communications Manager with the Animal Ag Alliance based out of Arlington, Virginia, is not only urging farmers to jump on board the social media craze but is also focusing on helping zealous educators develop their message.

“Now more than ever, it is really important for individual farmers and ranchers to be on social media,” Kinler said.

Although this may be foreign territory for some, she recommends beginning with only one platform such as Facebook because it offers the biggest reach of people

produce safety
Bloggers Learning more About California Agriculture

To take it one step further, the Ag Alliance also works with college students, hosting an online scholarship competition where the goal is to teach them how to effectively communicate about animal agriculture. They just celebrated their 10th anniversary of the competition, where over 430 individuals from more than 40 different states participated.

“It’s really important for farmers to get out there and share what they’re doing on their farm and make sure that people in their community know that they are a trusted source.”

Cal State Monterey Bay’s Ag Program Strong

Cal State Monterey Bay Attracting Ag Students

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The Ag Business Program at Cal State Monterey Bay is very-tech oriented. California Ag Today recently spoke with Shyam Kamath, dean of the College of Business at CSU Monterey Bay, about what the program aims to teach its students.

“We’ve been in existence for about 23 years as a university. We were the university that went from swords to plowshares,” Kamath said. “We went from Fort Ord to becoming a university. Today, the university has two major pieces to it. One is a college of science, and its ag programs, and the second is a college of business with its ag business programs.”

Kamath said that the ag business programs have turned to ag tech programs.

“We need to forcus on perishable commodities, because that’s what this valley’s about,” he explained.

“We are also focused on precision ag, because that’s where the industry is going. So we have the school of computing and design, and the college of business together,” Kamath said. “We are looking at programs where we’ll power that. I have five people in business analytics, so that they understand what to do. Then I’ve got two ag professors who are there.”

“The third focus area is vertical ag and genomic ag. That’s an area where we’re trying to work with the college of science, and have people there to do that,” he said.

The fourth area, is supply chain, because this is an area where supply-chain is critical.

“Supply chain is key. Most ag programs look at production agriculture. We look at production, but also the supply chain, because this is a cold chain. Produce has to move fast and under cold temperatures. If that doesn’t work, then it will not get to a customer,” Kamath explained.

FFA Student is Great Reporter

Hughson FFA Student Thrives on Agriculture


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director


California FFA Association, a high school youth leadership and career development organization, is very dynamic in the state. FFA chapters are located throughout the state’s agricultural areas. We had a conversation with Michelle Borges, a sophomore at Hughson High School. She is an active member of the Hughson FFA and serves as the 2016-17 FFA Chapter reporter.California FFA student

“My job is publicizing the FFA to everyone in the community. I write articles to the local newspapers. I’m in charge of the social media for Hughson FFA. Basically any radio broadcast, television broadcast, anything like that to get the word out about FFA,” Borges said.

Borges was also active in the 4-H starting at age five. She raised and sold goats, and she is devoted to California agriculture to this day. “One of the reasons why I love agriculture is because both my parents work in the agriculture industry. Both my brothers were super involved in the FFA, so I was kind of born into it,” she said.

Borges noted that while her family does not farm, they are involved in agricultural education. “My dad is the Dean of Agriculture at Modesto Junior College, and my mom used to be an agriculture teacher in high school, but now she teaches junior high,” she said.

While still in high school, Borges wants to continue pursuing her passion for agriculture. “When I grow up, I want to be an animal nutritionist. I’m really interested in nutrition for animals and I have also raised goats. . . ‘Seeing them grow up and then selling them. That whole project; it is really interesting to me. Also, with FFA, there’s a lot of public speaking competitions and I really enjoy public speaking in front of a crowd,” she said.

To hone her skills for that animal nutrition career, Borges plans to go to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, after she graduates from high school.

Westlands Water District Announces Recipients of the West Side Scholarships

Six outstanding high school seniors from communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley have been selected to receive scholarships offered by the Westlands Water District.

The 2014 scholarships are offered by Westlands under a program to recognize and reward exceptional academic achievement and leadership by graduating seniors at area high schools.

The recipients of the 2014 scholarships are:

Jose Arias, a senior at Firebaugh High School. Mr. Arias is an honors student who plans on attending University of California, Davis to pursue a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.

He was involved in soccer, track and field, and cross country. Additionally, he has received a number of awards including a Certificate of AP Scholar Award, Student of the Month and Certificate of Academic Excellence.

Jorge Santillan, a senior at Mendota High School. Mr. Santillan plans to attend University of California, Santa Barbara to pursue a degree in psychology. He is an honors student and has been an active member of MESA, AVID, Leadership, was President of Lend-A-Hand and an ASB Treasurer. As President of Lend-A-Hand, he helped organize blood drives, food drives and toy drives.

John Desfosses, a senior at Coalinga High School. Mr. Desfosses plans to attend University of California, Berkeley to pursue a degree in history. He is an honors student who was a President and former Vice-President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and former Vice President and Treasurer of the California Scholarship Federation.

Emma Larson, a senior at Lemoore High School. Ms. Larson plans to attend University of California to pursue a career in agricultural communications. She is an honors student and a member of the California Scholastic Federation. Additionally, she has been an active member of Future Farmers of America holding several leadership positions.

Alexis Garcia, a senior at Tranquillity High School. Mr. Garcia plans to attend University of California, Berkeley to pursue a degree in integrative biology. He is an honors student involved in Future Farmers of America, ASB Leadership and basketball.

Rianne Banuelos, a senior at Riverdale High School. Ms. Banuelos plans to attend Westmont College to pursue a degree in art and English. She is an honors student who was actively involved in Link Crew, Physics Club, Student Government and Leadership Class. Additionally, she has participated in a considerable amount of volunteer work.

Each scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 to be used for community college or university expenses. Applicants were judged on their academic performance, school activities and community leadership. Each applicant submitted an essay on an agricultural-related topic.

“Westlands is honored to provide this assistance for these outstanding student leaders,” said 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 such a productive and vibrant place.”

Cal Ag Today would like to congratulate each of these outstanding students on their achievements and wish them the best of luck on their future endeavors.

The Groundbreaking of the New Jordan Research Center to Take Place on June 13

Source: http://www.fresnostate.edu/jcast/jrc/

As the flagship university in the top agricultural region in the world, Fresno State is a fitting home for a world-class research center to discover and investigate the most advanced concepts and practices of agriculture, food and natural resources.

The new Jordan Research Center at Fresno State fosters collaboration between some of the brightest minds in agriculture, engineering, science and mathematics. The 30,000-square-foot facility is slated for groundbreaking in spring 2014, reinventing Fresno State as a leading research institution for decades to come.

Please join Fresno State for the groundbreaking of the new Jordan Research Center on June 13.


Secretary Ross Joins Elementary School Students to Experience Mobile Dairy Classroom

Source: Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO Dairy Council of California

Earlier this month, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross joined students at Sacramento’s Pacific Elementary School for a visit from the Mobile Dairy Classroom, where an instructor shared fun facts like: cows have built-in fly swatters, and milk is warm when it comes out of the udder.

As the original farm to school program in California, Mobile Dairy Classroom has brought a bit of the dairy farm to schools across the state since the 1930s.

To help children better appreciate where their milk and milk products come from, the free assemblies provided by the Dairy Council of California teach children about agriculture and cows, healthy eating from all five food groups, and how to lead healthy, active lifestyles.

Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies augment the Dairy Council of California’s classroom nutrition education lessons that are also free to schools as part of the dairy industry’s commitment to community health.

With six Mobile Dairy Classroom units across California, 400,000 students each year have the chance to make a personal connection with a cow and a calf, and better understand where their milk comes from.

Furthermore, the assemblies allow for a better appreciation for the role of the dairy farmer and milk processor in providing healthy food and why milk and milk products are an essential part of an overall balanced diet with foods from all five food groups.

JCAST Students Claim Back-to-Back State Championships at Discussion Meet

Source: Eddie Hughes; Fresno State News and Fresno County Farm Bureau 

Fresno State senior Levy Randolph of Hemet earned the individual state championship in the California Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet on March 1 in Visalia.

Randolph, an Agricultural Education major, was one of eight students who represented Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at the meet. Randolph now advances to compete in February 2015 at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in Nashville.

The discussion meet competition was designed for young members of the farm bureau to participate in a progressive and collaborative discussion. Participants are judged on content, cooperative attitude, presentation and knowledge of the pre-determined speaking topics.

Competitors discuss pressing issues of the agriculture industry and strive to cultivate solutions from their 20-minute discussion.

This was Fresno State’s fourth team championship all-time and Randolph will be the fifth Bulldog to represent California at the national competition.

Randolph’s winnings included an expense-paid trip to the national competition and a cash prize of $1,250.

Joining Randolph in the final round of competition was Fresno State Agricultural Communications major Jodi Raley of Tollhouse. Raley earned a $500 cash prize. Audra Roland, an Agricultural Business major from Tollhouse, made it to the semifinals.

Dr. Steven Rocca, professor of Agricultural Education and Communications, has coached the competition since 2006. “Our students’ hard work and dedication led to the overall team win,” Rocca said. “We are thrilled that one of our students earned the state championship, enabling our team to become back-to-back champs. The skills these students learn will be valuable tools in their future as our agricultural leaders.”

Additional members of the team include: Ana Lopez, an Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary major from Tulare; Victor Evans, an Agricultural Education-Teacher Preparation major from Fresno; Kyle Mendes, an Agricultural Education-Teacher Preparation major from Modesto; Rachel Wright, an Agricultural Communications major from Tollhouse; and Mallory Harrison an Agricultural Communications major from Bakersfield.

The Young Farmers and Ranchers are active agriculturalists, ages 18 to 35. Members develop leadership skills through community service, service-learning and maintaining active involvement in their county farm bureaus.

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (JCAST) offers education needed to be a leader in agriculture and related sciences. They offer programs in the traditional areas of agriculture, including animal science, plant science, agricultural education, viticulture and agricultural business. 

JCAST also offers excellent programs in areas uniquely related to agriculture, including industrial technology, food science and nutrition, enology, child development, family science and fashion merchandising.