Fresno State Launches New Agricultural Leadership Program

Fresno State’s Avery Culbertson Launches Solid Agricultural Leadership Program

 

By Lauren Dutra, Associate Editor

 

Dr. Avery Culbertson, who is passionate about agricultural leadership joined California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) in August, in a newly created position to develop an Ag leadership curriculum for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

Dr. Culbertson’s interest in Ag leadership was initially sparked by “being a product of National FFA Organization* (FFA). You have a lot of role models and influences around you. You start getting an idea of what Ag leadership is,” said Culbertson.

“After I got my degree in agricultural education and was looking for a job, I met with a colleague who said, ‘There are adult leadership programs around the country, and I want you to start one at New Mexico State University.’”

Having been trained by the California Agricultural Leadership Program, Culbertson was confident that she could successfully launch a program. “They really opened their arms to me,” she commented, “and provided resources. As that progressed, I started defining what leadership was.”

Culbertson asserted, “An agricultural leadership program is not only [about] understanding our industry, but understanding our customer. That became very important to me in and outside of the job. The only way that agriculture can lead in society is by understanding our stakeholders.”

Culbertson thinks it is critical not only to know how to lead—having the skill set to be a great speaker or to be knowledgeable in different fields,” she explained, “we also need to know who we are leading. As I’ve been discussing with my classes right now, leadership is a matter of taking a group of people and accomplishing a collective goal,” she said.


*National FFA Organization (FFA), formerly known as Future Farmers of America, helps students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 2 – Meghan Loper

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 2 –

Meghan Loper Receives Fresno State Science Recognition Award

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Assemblyman Jim Patterson joined Dr. Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of Government Relations, at the 23rd Assembly District’s 2016 Agriculture Science Recognition Awards on March 17 at Fresno State.

California Ag Today will highlight each of four Fresno State students in the Fresno State Honoree series, Meghan Loper, Megen Morales, Elizabeth Mosqueda and Nick Wolfenden, who were selected from among several students nominated for their dedication to the future of agriculture in the Central Valley.

“These brilliant students represent the best of the best,” said Assemblyman Patterson. “Their devotion to making a difference in our agriculture science community is to be commended and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

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Meghan Loper, is a master’s student at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), in the poultry science field, working on animal welfare.

“She currently has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and livestock production management,” said California Assemblyman Jim Patterson. “She also teaches the animal health, welfare and poultry production class in the Poultry Science Department,” noted Patterson.

Most recently, Loper researched the economic significance of the number of chickens living in the same chicken house. Her study quantified the amount of chickens per house and its effect on economic return with the goal of understanding the threshold at which the number of chickens starts to have a negative impact on animal welfare. “She hoped the work would provide information to people about the importance of the welfare of chickens in the poultry industry,” said Patterson, “as the issue is obviously becoming more of a hot topic industry-wide, as well as for consumers, and it even touches the California Legislature.”

Loper has been a member of the Poultry Science Club and the Enterprise Manager of the Foster Farms Poultry Education and Research Facility at Fresno State for the last three years. She volunteers for a local 4-H Club and will be organizing a second FFA field day in April.

Loper is also involved with animals of a different type; she has raised 12 guide dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

“This is an individual, as are our other three honorees, who is making plans and getting prepared to make a living, but you are also making a life,” Patterson said to Loper. “And it is that life that we honor today.”

Loper said, “We have been experimenting with the different amount of birds that can be put into production house. What is too many? What is not enough? And, what’s going to be best for the birds in the long run,” Loper elaborated.

“I’m hoping to get a job in the poultry industry,” said Loper. “I want to make a difference somehow.”

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Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 1- Megen Morales

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 1 – Megen Morales

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Assemblyman Jim Patterson joined Dr. Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of Government Relations, at the 23rd Assembly District’s 2016 Agriculture Science Recognition Awards on March 17 at Fresno State.

California Ag Today will highlight each of four Fresno State students in the Fresno State Honoree series, Meghan Loper, Megen Morales, Elizabeth Mosqueda and Nick Wolfenden, who were selected from among several students nominated for their dedication to the future of agriculture in the Central Valley.

“These brilliant students represent the best of the best,” said Assemblyman Patterson. “Their devotion to making a difference in our agriculture science community is to be commended and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

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Megen Morales, a senior at Fresno State majoring in enology and chemistry, was honored recently for leading the way in the study of mold in winegrapes. “She’s also helping others in agriculture measure and quantify the amount of mold,” noted Patterson.

After a grapevine-judging contest in high school, Morales knew she wanted to work in the viticulture industry. So for the past three years, she has worked with her enology professors to create a new standard for wineries to follow for the amount of mold that is acceptable in harvested wine grapes. “The current maximum of moldy grapes acceptable in wineries is two percent,” noted Patterson, “but there is no process that accurately determines the level of mold content.” Morales explained, “Right now, you simply look at the grapes and usually determine that it looks like 1.5 to two percent mold.”

“So Megen harvested White Zinfandel Grapes from 15 farms throughout the Central Valley, and brought them back to the lab to study the levels of several types of mold,” noted Patterson. “Morales compiled the data, and her results are now used by large-scale wineries to determine how much mold is in their harvested grapes.”

A member of Central Valley Women for Agriculture (CWA) and a volunteer at the Fresno State Winery, Morales has also helped promote agriculture at Valley Children’s Hospital. As current manager of the laboratory, she trains other students on how to use it.

In fact, Morales has dedicated much of her time to teaching young people about the important role agriculture plays in everyday life. She says her experiences at Fresno State will help her excel in her future as an empowered, humble person, with the skills and mindset to accomplish great things. She hopes to work as an enologist at a major winery and eventually plans to become a senior wine maker. Morales’ ultimate goal is to serve as a role model, a mentor to women in agriculture, and to advocate for agricultural education to preserve the agricultural world of tomorrow.

“My passion started with crop production and it evolved towards viticulture,” noted Morales. “I really enjoyed chemistry in high school. Combining the two fields [agriculture and chemistry] was a challenge, but then I found enology. It has been really exciting learning how to make wine.”

“The winegrape scan spectrum we are developing will enable wineries to scan one sample of grapes coming in and better quantify the amount of mold,” Morales elaborated. “Since wine is filtered before it goes into a bottle, mold has not been a big problem. However, [mold] does affect the sensory impact of wine, so once you get above five percent mold you start to smell a funky, sweet, almost vinegary smell. It doesn’t affect the palate, but it does affect the nose,” she stated.

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Sandra Witte, New Ag Dean at Fresno State

Dr. Sandra Witte Named Dean of Jordan College at Fresno State

(March 16, 2016) – Dr. Sandra Witte, who has been serving as interim dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State, has been appointed permanent dean, effectively immediately.

Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said Witte’s exceptional work as interim dean made her the best person for the position.

“We conducted a yearlong national search for a dean but did not find the right candidate for this important position,” said Zelezny. “In the meantime, it became clear to me, the faculty, staff and our strong partners in the agriculture community that Dr. Witte was the right candidate. I’m pleased she agreed to stay at Fresno State as permanent dean.”

Zelezny added: “This is a critical time for the Jordan College as we prepare for the opening of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center this spring and continue our laser-focus on crucial issues related to water and sustainability. I am confident Dr. Witte will lead the college to increasing national prominence.”real JCAST Logo

Witte has taken an unconventional route to the dean’s position, starting her career as a registered dietitian and serving as a professor and chair of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, one of seven departments in the Jordan College.

“In the Jordan College, we often talk about offering programs from farm to fork and all the business in between,” said Witte. “While most people think of agriculture from the farm end, my connection is clearly on the fork end. I have always had an appreciation for traditional agriculture, and in my time at Fresno State, that has bloomed into a passion. After all, where is the food without the farmer?” she said.

Witte joins a growing number of women in agricultural leadership positions that traditionally have been held by males in universities, industry and commodity groups in the U.S.

The Jordan College maintains an enrollment of approximately 2,400 undergraduate and 100 graduate students from diverse backgrounds from throughout California, the U.S. and the world. Undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs are offered in the major areas of agricultural business; animal sciences and agricultural education; child, family and consumer sciences; food science and nutrition; industrial technology; plant science; and viticulture and enology.

Faculty and students conduct applied research and public service in selected areas of agriculture, food sciences, industrial technology and family sciences. Students engage in learning science, technology and management in the classroom and by experience on the 1,000-acre on-campus University Agricultural Laboratory.

Witte has served as interim dean since October 2014. Previously, she jointly held the positions of associate dean of the Jordan College and dean of the Division of Graduate Studies. She joined the Fresno State faculty in 1992 and took her first administrative assignment in 2007.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; master’s degree in home economics, nutrition and dietetics option at Fresno State; and her Ph.D. in food systems management at Oregon State University, Corvallis.

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Photo: Sandra Witte, dean of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State (source: Fresno State

CA Farm Bureau Awards Ag Students

CA Farm Bureau Awards Young Farmers and Ranchers Program Students

Service to community and Farm Bureau earned awards for participants in the California Young Farmers and Ranchers program, and a student from California State University, Fresno, won the state’s annual Collegiate Discussion Meet. The awards were presented at the Feb. 27 annual California Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in San Luis Obispo.

For a second straight year, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee earned the YF&R Committee of the Year Award, for its activities during 2015. The committee, composed of 45 active members, volunteered at numerous Farm Bureau and agricultural education events; donated food to local food banks and toys to children of military service members; presented three college scholarships; and raised money for the scholarship program and for the California Farm Bureau Federation Fund to Protect the Family Farm.

Napa County Farm Bureau member Johnnie White received the Star YF&R Award, which recognizes a young farmer or rancher for service to agriculture. White, a sixth-generation farmer, works as operations supervisor for a vineyard-management company and as a volunteer firefighter in St. Helena. He has been an active YF&R volunteer since 2006, serves as first vice chair of the State YF&R Committee and is a member of the 2016 Leadership Farm Bureau class.

California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers 2016 Conference logo
California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers 2016 Conference

Fresno State junior Hunter Berry (San Jacinto), an agricultural business major, won the Collegiate Discussion Meet, which simulates a committee meeting with active participation and positive group discussion. Berry began his agricultural training in high school classes and FFA activities. At Fresno State, he is pursuing an accounting concentration and hopes to obtain a master’s degree on his banking or financial analysis career path. Next February, Berry will become the sixth Fresno State student to represent California at the American Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet national competition.

Riley Nilsen (Nipomo), an agricultural science student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was first runner-up in the competition. The other finalists were Fresno State senior agricultural business student Jacob Vazquez (Cottonwood) and Cal Poly student Haley Warner (Angels Camp). Berry earned a $1,250 prize sponsored by AgroLiquid; Nilsen earned $750 and the other finalists each earned $500.

Fresno State won the collegiate team competition, the fifth team and individual titles for the group under the direction of adviser Dr. Steven Rocca, Fresno State agricultural education professor. Other team titles came in 2014, 2013, 2008 and 2006. Berry said. “Dr. Rocca did a great job of mentoring us before and during the competition, as well as arranging for guest speakers beforehand such as Ryan Jacobsen from the Fresno County Farm Bureau. Having four of our team members make the semifinals was especially rewarding.

In addition to Berry and Vazquez, Fresno State’s team included agricultural education-communication senior Dominique Germann (Ceres), animal science-livestock business management junior Emma Briggs (Santa Rosa) and animal science-pre-veterinary senior Ana Lopez Campos (Tulare).

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American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program serves agriculturalists between the ages of 18 and 35 who are actively involved in production and affiliated professions.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 53,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

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Sources: 

California Farm Bureau Federation

California State University, Fresno, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Teçhnology (Geoffrey Thurner).

Photo: Collegiate Team Award Winners (2016); source: California State University, Fresno, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Renaissance in Agriculture

Ryan Jacobsen on the Renaissance in Agriculture 

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

In the past, the children of farmers were known to leave the farm to pursue careers that required higher levels of education and not return. Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said those days are behind us. Jacobsen said nowadays, we are experiencing a renaissance in agriculture, as sons and daughters return to the farms and college students study agriculture.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Jacobsen said. “When you look at the overall agriculture industry over the last decade, it’s been pretty bright.” Despite the recent national and global economic downturn, Jacobsen contends the California agricultural economy remained a shining star. “That shining star created what I consider to be a renaissance in the agriculture industry,” Jacobsen explained, “where we actually saw younger individuals come back to the farm. For so many years we shipped off that talent. We encouraged them not to come back to the farm to be farmers; we encouraged them to go off to other professions.”

“We are truly fortunate to be where we are today,” Jacobsen continued, “because of the renaissance and higher commodities and crop values. We’re seeing sons and daughters able to return to the farms and take their places within their family operations.”

We’re seeing individuals go to college for a career in agriculture,” remarked Jacobsen. “Over at Fresno State, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology is seeing record enrollment—not just a little bit up, but shattering all previous records.” Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology lists their current student enrollment as of September 14 at nearly 2,000 undergraduates and 75 graduate students.”

“It’s encouraging that young individuals see an opportunity and a future in agriculture, plus the desire to help our industry,“ Jacobsen said.

 

Calif. Profs Win Irrigation E3 Leader Awards

Irrigation E3 Leader Awards Go to Two California Faculty

The Irrigation Foundation has named 15 outstanding students and faculty as winners of the 2015 Irrigation E3 Program. The Foundation selected two faculty 2015 Irrigation E3 Leaders, both in California, Florence Cassel, Fresno State and Tim Ellsworth, West Hills College Coalinga.

This year’s class of faculty and students will receive an all-expenses-paid trip next week to the Irrigation Show & Education Conference, Nov. 9 – 13, in Long Beach, Calif.

Founded in 2012, the E3 program provides students and faculty with exposure, experience and education in the irrigation industry. Academics nominate outstanding students for consideration as E3 Learners and/or apply to become E3 Leaders themselves.

To qualify to apply for Irrigation E3 Leader status, an instructor must be teaching, or will be teaching within the next six months, irrigation-related coursework at a North American community college, university or similar institution of higher learning. Prior winners may not reapply.

Chosen faculty will have the opportunity to participate in education classes, industry sessions and networking events. Working with academics is essential to the Foundation’s mission of attracting people to careers in irrigation by supplying the irrigation industry with educated professionals. Faculty members help shape the future career paths of their students and keeping instructors up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the irrigation industry is a must. 

“This is the fourth year of the program, and the Foundation is sending a record number of students to the show,” said senior foundation manager Janine Sparrowgrove. “We are excited to give the students and faculty the opportunity to attend classes and gain exposure to industry companies and technologies.”

Florence Cassel Sharma, Assistant Professor Irrigation/Water Management, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Department of Plant Science, California State University, Fresno researches optimizing water use efficiency through low and deficit irrigation practices, improving irrigation scheduling, and utilizing remote sensing techniques for water resources management, crop water use, and soil salinity assessment. Assistant director of research of the Center for Irrigation Technology, Sharma is a recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Research and Scholarly Activity Award for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

Tim Ellsworthagriculture technology instructor at West Hills College Coalinga, researches primarily soil science with a focus on precision agriculture and nutrient management. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Canadian Biochar Consortium.

Prior to West Hills, Ellsworth was a professor and faculty director of the online master’s program for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a soil scientist with the USDA U.S. Salinity Laboratory, a visiting faculty member at the Centre for Water Research, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Western Australia in Perth and a senior scientist performing hazard assessments and hazard evaluations for the U.S. Army with regard to management of the U.S. Army Chemical Weapon Stockpile.

This year’s Irrigation E3 Learners are:

  • Samia Amiri, Oklahoma State University
  • Garrett Banks, Colorado State University
  • Colton Craig, Oklahoma State University
  • Spencer Davies, Brigham Young University
  • Daniel Greenwell, Auburn University
  • John Hawkins, Alamance Community College
  • Tsz Him Lo, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Michelle Mbia, Prairie View A&M University
  • Ryan McBride, Brigham Young University, Idaho
  • Alan Rourke, Kansas State University
  • Daniel Selman, Brigham Young University
  • Amandeep Vashisht, Colorado State University
  • Christopher Weathers, Mira Costa College

Toro Company is the lead sponsor and the Carolina’s Irrigation Association is a supporting sponsor for this year’s program. 

Links:

Irrigation E3 Program 

Irrigation Foundation

Fresno State to host commencement for state ag leaders

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State will host the California Agricultural Leadership Program commencement ceremony for the first time at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 in North Gym, Room 118.

The commencement will cap a three-day seminar for the 44th graduating class of emerging or mid-career agricultural leaders. Graduates of the program acquire skills to enhance the long-term success of their businesses, farms, ranches and organizations.

Over the past 17 months, the group has focused on leadership theory, effective communication, motivation, critical and strategic thinking, change management, emotional intelligence, and complex social and cultural issues.

Four Fresno State graduates – Dustin Fuller, Trevor Meyers, Heather Mulholland and Carissa Koopman Rivers – are among the 24 members who will graduate and were inaugurated in October 2013 at Fresno State.

Each fellow has participated in 55 seminar days, including a 10-day national travel seminar to Gettysburg, Penn., Philadelphia and Washington D.C., and a 15-day international travel seminar to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We congratulate the 24 fellows on their important achievement of completing the Ag Leadership Program,” said Bob Gray, president and CEO of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, which operates the program. “These leaders will continue to learn and grow, take on new challenges, assume leadership roles and make a difference.”

The 45th class, inaugurated in October 2014 at Fresno State, will also convene on campus during the three-day event. The class includes four additional Fresno State graduates –- Chris Jensen, Stanley Kjar, Lauren Reid and Justin Spellman.

Fresno State animal sciences Professor Dr. Michael Thomas serves as the Jordan College’s core faculty member for the program’s education team and as the foundation’s director of education.

“We are grateful to the Jordan College for its ongoing support of Ag Leadership and are very pleased to hold our inauguration and commencement ceremonies on campus,” Gray said. “Commencement has been held in Pomona for many decades, but we felt it was important to move it to the more centrally-located Fresno State. We also thank Wells Fargo for their generous sponsorship of commencement.”

Fresno State is one of four California universities that partner with the program. The others are Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona and University of California, Davis.

More than 1,200 men and women have participated in the program since the first class was introduced in 1970, making it the longest continuously-operating agriculture leadership training experience in the nation.

For more information, contact Meredith Rehrman Ritchie at 916-984-4473 or mritchie@agleaders.org.

Afghanistan vet presents flag at Jordan College Assembly

Fresno State mechanic Danny Sexton marked his return from an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan by presenting an American flag to the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Tuesday.

The 10th-year mechanic is based full-time out of the Ag Operations office and presented the 3×5 flag to his co-workers as a thank-you for their support while on active duty with the U.S. Navy last year.

The E6 Petty Officer 1st Class returned to Fresno in late November after an eight-month stint at Bagram Air Base near Charikar, Afghanistan as an equipment operator after two months of training in Kentucky, New Jersey and Virginia.

“Fresno State was very supportive and held my job while I’m gone,” Sexton said. “I wanted to give one of the flags we flew back to the College to show how much I appreciated their support.”

In Afghanistan, he served on the logistics task force for transportation, and his main duties involved moving cargo and soldiers to other nearby destinations. Vehicles are also at the core of his Fresno State duties as he maintains campus vehicles ranging in all sizes.

“I enjoy both jobs because I’ve always liked working on equipment,” Sexton said. “They are complimentary since I can fix things on campus job and operate machinery in the military. I can also use the other position’s skills when necessary without missing a beat.”

While away last year, he still kept in close contact with his family and friends through Facebook, cell phones, texting and mail, and watched his granddaughter grow up on Skype. He also tracked the Bulldogs football team online and emailed with co-workers to keep updated on office news.

He first enlisted in the Navy in 1986 after high school to follow the career path of an uncle who had also served in the military. That move began a 20-plus year stint that began with five years of active duty in Europe and Florida. After a 10-year break, he re-enlisted in July 2001 and has been a naval reservist ever since.

He has served two other 10-month deployments in Iraq (2003) and in Kuwait (2009-10). In those stints, he served as a heavy equipment operator in the construction battalion, and operated all types of equipment used to build or dig camps, roadways, level & clear land for buildings, dig trenches, and roll out/pave roads.

Navy training will continue to be an active part of his life with his once-a-month weekends of service and a two-week stint during the year. Down the road, he hopes to deploy again before he retires from the Navy.

When he returned home the day before Thanksgiving, it made the holidays even more special for his wife Kathy, stepson and granddaughter Victoria.

“My wife hadn’t planned on me being there for Thanksgiving so it was pretty special when I texted her a couple days before,” Sexton said. “She was a little shocked and went into overdrive to get everything ready for an early return. On that afternoon, she was worried nobody would be there when we arrived because our dogs had gotten out and she ran into some traffic problems. But it all turned out fine, and she was there with plenty of time with some of our friends and family, including my 14-month old granddaughter.”

Memorial Service Set for Dr. Bartell, Ag Dean Emeritus

Source: www.FresnoStateNews.com

A memorial service will be held at California State University, Fresno on June 28 for Dr. Daniel P. Bartell, dean emeritus of Fresno State’s then-School of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, who led the university’s agricultural education programs during a 14-year period of growth academically and within the industry.

Under Bartell’s direction, the college developed its viticulture and enology programs, the Fresno State Winery and the Gibson Farm Market.

Dr. Bartell died June 13 in Fresno at age 70. The memorial service will be from 11 a.m.-noon at the Viticulture and Enology Research Center (2360 E. Barstow Ave.) followed by a reception with light refreshments from noon-2 p.m.

Dr. Bartell served as dean from 1992 to 2006, when he stepped down to return to teaching and was succeeded by Dr. Charles Boyer, current dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Ag One Foundation in support of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State or to a university of the donor’s choice.