West Hills College Farm of the Future Part 2

Students Test New Agricultural Technologies and At Farm of the Future

By Tim Hammerich, with the AgInfo.net

West Hills College’s Farm of the Future is a unique program that provides students with practical, hands-on farming experience.

Director Terry Brase also envisions it as a chance to work with companies where in addition to hands-on learning, students can test new agricultural technologies.

“We also have another side of the farm where we’ve got close to a hundred acres that are made up of smaller plots. Those are the areas that are reserved for student projects,said Brase. And that currently we’re actually looking for funding where the project or the company that wants to maybe demonstrate a product will pay us. And pay a group of students to run a demonstration on one of these fields. And the students are directly responsible for the decisions and using the product, coming up with little research demonstration against the control part of the plot to see if it works or not.”

Brase said this gives companies early exposure for up-and-coming products, and the students a career related job during school.

“But I think what it really provides, the real value, is that the students are being paid through like a scholarship to work here on the farm. So they’re making money while they’re working on the farm. This way they’re getting the experience and we’re helping them through school,” Brase said.

Interested students or companies can visit West Hills College’s website for more information.

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Practical Hands-On Farm Ed Experience

Farm Ed for the Future  Part 1

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

As millions of people are losing their jobs, community college are preparing to help many of them find new skills and new careers.

West Hills College in Coalinga has a unique program that provides students with practical, hands-on farming experience. It’s called the Farm of the Future. Here is Program Director Terry Brase.

“Our goal is that every student that comes through our educational academic classes and courses will get some type of experience on the farm. And as such, it’s a working farm. So we have 23 acres of pistachios,” said Brase. We have little over 80 acres of row crop that we produce, our own irrigation system. So my role as the Director is to kind of oversee the farm and the academic programs. We try to make the Farm of the Future a demonstration of how technology is used in California agriculture.”

The program has two different pathways. One for agricultural science which includes studies like plant science, irrigation, integrated pest management, and precision agriculture. The other is for more industrial studies like truck driving, heavy equipment operation, food safety, and welding.

As we’ve seen recently these are essential careers that required proper training, Brase said.

Please go to West Hills College for more information.

AgInfo.net is the largest Radio Network in the West with 140 Affiliate Radio Stations.

Preventing Workplace Conflict in Ag

There Are Down To Earth Tools To Lower Stress

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

It’s essential to learn how to navigate agricultural workplace conflict to help keep the workplace safe for all employees.

Dr. Linda Thomas is vice-chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development at West Hills Community College District. She’s also a senior consultant at Linda Thomas Consulting.

She said that anytime you deal with people where you potentially have conflict, some people will get angry and try to power up and deal with it that way, whereas other people try to shy away from it, but neither one of those is the way to handle it.

“There are some down-to-earth tools that you can use to calm yourself and to work through the process. And when you do that, we call it conflict transformation, and you can get to a better place than you were before,” Thomas said.

“People shouldn’t be afraid of it; they should just understand that there’s a way to move through it and they can get to the other side.”

She noted that it’s essential to avoid high-stress situations in the workplace.

“That’s the key, because when the stress gets high, you have a lot of negative effects. There is an increase in insurance costs and high absenteeism and people quit, and you have low productivity and low morale, so you can’t just let conflict simmer,” Thomas said.

“You can’t pretend that it’s going to go away and you can’t, make it go away,” Thomas continued. “You have to work through it. And a lot of people are concerned about working through it. But I think the number one takeaway about working through it is to examine yourself. You need to know what your hot buttons are. You have to know what makes you mad or what makes you stressed out. And you have to understand that.”

Thomas recommended that when you’re engaging constructive discussion about the conflict itself, you have to say, “okay, I’m starting to feel angry now,” and take a step back, timeout, whatever it needs to be.

Thomas said we need to come at it with a logical point of view. Because if you do that, whether you’re a business owner or a manager or a leader, you can have a reasonable point of view on it.

“Ask yourself, ‘what do I need to get out of it?’ You can see your way through it a lot better than you can if you don’t know what to do or how to do it, and your emotions have overwhelmed you,” she explained

For help in conflict resolution click here.

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