WANTED: New Director, Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department

Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department Shines, But Needs New Director

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

No doubt, the Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department is important not only to the Central San Joaquin Valley, but also to all of California’s agricultural areas. Nat DiBuduo, president, Fresno-based Allied Grape Growers, and a 1973 Fresno State alumnus, said Fresno State’s top administration is exceptionally dedicated to the department.

 

Research Buildings at Viticulture and Enology Research Center VERC
Research Buildings at Viticulture and Enology Research Center VERC

“It is really critical that we highlight the fact that Joseph Castro, president of Fresno State, and Sandra Witte, dean of Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, as well as the entire Industry Advisory Board for the Viticulture and Enology Research Center (VERC), are committed to the department,” said DiBuduo. “The entire board is committed to continuing the world-class program at the Viticulture and Enology Research Center that Vincent Petrucci (1985-1994) started so many years ago and has been continued on through Robert Wample (2000-2009) and James Kennedy (2010-2015).”

DiBuduo, who studied plant science and viticulture as a student, said, “We’re committed to providing this first class program for our students and for the industry. We’re in the midst of the search for the right person to head the program so that he or she can bring on the faculty and support staff who will continue that progress into the next century and beyond.”

As California’s agricultural industry feeds the world, it is important the industry supports this search for a new department chair. “It is important the University gets the right person in there, so we’re asking everyone out there who knows anyone qualified, [to encourage them] to apply for this position,” said DiBuduo. “We need to have the right person to provide the education, research and leadership into the future.”

Fresno State Winery Bottling Line
Fresno State Winery Bottling Line

Fresno State agricultural programs are unique due to a hands-on approach designed to give students the practical knowledge they need to get out and work. “They will know how to farm,”DiBuduo said. “They will know how to apply their teachings and their education to become managers, foremen and operators, and supervisors of field operations.”

Students come from all over the Central Valley and beyond the Valley because of Fresno State’s excellent reputation. “If students have enough units in the program, they can become Pest Control Advisors (PCAs),” said DiBuduo. “In fact, I was a PCA myself.”

fresno_state_makes_winemakers, Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department“But the problem we’re having in agriculture today is that many in the industry are an aging society,” DiBuduo said. “So we need to get young entrepreneurs, young farmers and ranchers who want to become PCAs or farm managers or viticulturists or winemakers,” DiBuduo said. “We need these trained students to run the farms and ranches in the future.”


NEW! FACULTY POSITION VACANCY: Chair of the Department of Viticulture & Enology and Director of the Viticulture & Enology Research Center.   Vacancy #12978  (7/20/16) Review of applications will begin September 19, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.


Resources:

Allied Grape Growers

California State University (Fresno State)

Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Fresno State’s Viticulture and Enology Department

Industry Advisory Board for the Viticulture and Enology Research Center

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 4

Elizabeth Mosqueda, Agriculture Science Recognition Award Honoree

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

Elizabeth Guerrero Mosqueda, a graduate student in the Department of Plant Science at Fresno State, was one of four students to receive the Agriculture Science Award in mid-March presented by Jim Patterson, California assemblymember, along with, Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno States’s executive director of government relations.

Jim Patterson, California Assemblymember
Jim Patterson, California State Assemblymember

Patterson said Mosqueda, the child of migrant farmworkers from Mexico,“set her sights on overcoming many obstacles from an early age. Elizabeth’s parents worked on the lettuce fields in the Salinas Valley, which led to her understanding the vital role farmworkers have in harvesting crops and the impact of frequent labor shortages on farming. All of that experience led her to study ways to improve lettuce production.”

Patterson said the labor shortage has required the use of automated lettuce thinners to raise lettuce, one of the state’s biggest crops.  “But some farmers are hesitant to use new technology,”said Patterson, “so Elizabeth decided to roll up her sleeves two and a half years ago” and conducted her graduate studies on the comparison of using lettuce thinning machines to lettuce work done by hand. “She completed her study and has since traveled nationwide to share her findings with other scientists and agronomists.”

Patterson added Mosqueda was recently selected as one of fifty students nationwide to attend American Society of Agronomy’s Graduate Student Leadership Conference.Amer Society of Agronomy

“Elizabeth believes that life is a challenge that shapes us into the people that we are meant to be,” Patterson said. “And each and every struggle and accomplishment that life has presented her has made her, and is making her, into the dedicated, hardworking and successful woman she is today.”

While at Fresno State, Patterson said Mosqueda helped to reestablish the Plant Science Club, serving as both the club’s secretary and president. “Elizabeth is also a member and has volunteered for the Central Valley California Women for Agriculture,” Patterson said, “and many other local, statewide and national farming organizations.”

Mosqueda was encouraged to apply for the award by professors in her department. “I’m very proud to be a part of the Department of Plant Science,” Mosqueda said. “I’m very thankful to all my professors, my advisor and all the other mentors who have helped me achieve this prestigious award.”

One month away from completing her program, Mosqueda hopes to obtain a position with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), Monterey County as a farm advisor either in vegetable crop production or weed science upon graduation. Mosqueda said she would like to “help growers firsthand with the problems that are going on in our agriculture industry today.”

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 3

Nick Wolfenden Honored With Fresno State Science Recognition Award

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Nick Wolfenden, a graduating senior at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), who majors in animal science and livestock management was honored with three other Fresno State science students in mid-March.

“Nick has made it his mission to educate the ag community and the public about the growing spotlight on the importance of animal welfare,” said California Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who honored the Fresno State students, along with Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of government relations.

Fresno State Animal Welfare Club (Source: Facebook)
Fresno State Animal Welfare Club (Source: Facebook)

“Nick says his greatest achievement at Fresno State was starting the Animal Welfare Club,” said Patterson. “The club has made a great impact on his fellow students by giving them the facts and skills to teach each other about the focus on the health and welfare of animals in production agriculture.”

As the club’s founder and president, Wolfenden started a movement to get donations to update Fresno State’s school farm so the animal welfare practices used by students would reflect the visions, values and beliefs of Fresno State. These changes have benefited both the animals and the students who care for them.

For a broader perspective, Wolfenden interned with the American Humane Association and became a key player in their Farm Animal Welfare Program. His drive and his passion have been noticed by several organizations and companies across the country who would like him to oversee their divisions.

“In 2015, Nick was honored as both the Outstanding Poultry Science Student and Outstanding Equine Science Student at Fresno State, given by the faculty to the animal science department students who make an impact in their field,” noted Patterson. “He also is an advisor to the Poultry Science Club, member and student advisor to the Equine Science Club, and has been the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Field Day Contest chair in both equine and poultry.”

Wolfenden believes he has the drive and determination to continue to make a significant difference in the lives of farm animals and in the industry that raises them and brings them to market. And he wasted no time in getting a good job offer from Tyson Foods at their global headquarters in Springdale, AR, to begin after graduation. “I’ll be working in their sustainability department helping to oversee their animal welfare division,” Wolfenden said.

“I think every farmer and rancher has to be passionate about their animals’ welfare,” said the senior. “We are making huge steps and big leaps in improving animal welfare and we see that across all industries,” he noted.

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.”

______________________________________

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.”

______________________________________

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.”

______________________________________

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.

 ______________________________________

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.

____________________________

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