A day of habitat creation in San Diego’s Tijuana River Valley

SLEWS Program | San Diego County | February 23, 2019 | Field day 2

Participating School
Mar Vista High School

Location
Tijuana River Valley Community Garden in Southwest San Diego

Mentors

  • Samantha Cook, San Diego State graduate in Sustainability
  • Christine Lambert, Associate Archaeologist & Project Manager, Petra Resource Management
  • Emanuel Storey, San Diego State doctoral student in Geography
  • Thomas Strand, Environmental Planner, Chambers Group, Inc.

Land Manager
Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County

Summary of the Day

Mar Vista students and their teacher arrived for our second SLEWS field day on a sunny morning following a rainy period. The site was pretty muddy, but no one seemed to mind too much! Students mingled and snacked while the team geared up for the day’s activities.

We kicked things off with an invigorating game of Where the Wind Blows, which got everyone moving and laughing. We then headed off to the hedgerow for our morning of restoration work. Last field day, the hedgerow was divided into four sections – one for each mentor group. Groups returned to their sections to observe the plant life already in the hedgerow. They then spent some time weeding around existing plants and where new plants would be planted (thanks to the rain, weeds were plentiful – especially in section 4!). The groups then planted the plants allocated to their section – 45 native potted plants and ten mulefat cuttings taken from the surrounding area were planted. After planting, students created a watering basin and mulched around each new plant.

The Community Garden is located in a historically agricultural area. Although few farms remain, there are several stables in the area, including one adjacent to the garden owned by the family of a teacher at Mar Vista! The teacher, Mr Jara, rode by the garden during Field Day 1 and saw the students, and invited us over for a tour on our next field day. After our planting project, we headed over to the horse ranch to meet some of the horses and hear about what goes on at the ranch. Students (and mentors) even got to take turns riding a horse!

After our tour, we returned to the garden for lunch – we had burritos in response to a request from the students. Following lunch, we built native bee nesting blocks and installed a barn owl box. At the first field day, groups decided which project they would work on this time. Three selected bee boxes, and one selected the owl box. Students had lots of fun using power tools to drill holes in the nesting blocks and attaching a roof. They even decorated their nesting blocks before installing them within the hedgerow. The group that installed the owl box had an interesting time examining the box, which had been used before and still had remnants from the previous inhabitants! They attached a metal pole to the box, dug a hole for the pole, and erected the box. Hopefully by the next field day we’ll be able to observe wildlife utilizing their new habitat.

By the time the owl box had been erected and the nesting boxes installed in the hedgerow, we could see the bus pulling up. How was it 2pm already? After a quick group poem to reflect on our day (each participant said one word that summed up their experience of the day), the students headed back onto the bus.

We all had a great time and are excited for Field Day 3!

Accomplishments:

  • 55 native plants planted in the hedgerow
  • Weeding and mulching of the hedgerow
  • 3 native bee nesting blocks and 1 barn owl box installed on site

Flowers, Shrubs & Veggies, Oh My!

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Central Valley North

Tuesday, February 27, 2019

Belmont Nursery, Fresno CA

Jon Reelhorn & Danielle Handler

The students started the day in the retail location with Leadership introduction activities.  Following the Leadership activities, we toured the propagation sight where we took a small tour, learn about heating beds and the way they manipulate the plants to grow.  Students tried their hand at running the planting machine by planting and labeling some said: “it’s not as easy as it looks”. Next, at the Henderson location students were able to work at a different planting machine and learned to graft on a piece of scion wood.  After lunch at the first retail location, students walked around to see what was available for retail purchase. Students asked a lot of great questions. Then the students worked on inventorying the retail location. Students had to count and recount all of the plants that they had for sale.  Danielle explained that staff members keep count every week on what has been sold and what needs to be reordered. Students said it was a tedious job but appreciated so many different types of plants.

What’s the Buzz About?

FARMS Advanced | Kern County | February 27, 2019

Participating Schools
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

We had been waiting all year for this! It was Apiology day! The almond trees were in bloom and it was time to hear and experience the honeybee industry. Jimmy Gardner of United Honeybees allowed us to come and experience the world of bees with him.

We started with conversations about the lifecycle of the bee and the honey bee business. Bees have a community and they are like any other animal. They need to be fed, watered and cared for. We studied the facts of the honeybee.

Here are some facts that shocked students:

  • Bees are the only insect in the world that makes food that humans eat.
  • Honeybees pollinate $15 billion of crops every year
  • Honey has natural preservatives so bacteria can’t grow in it
  • 85% of plants exist because of bees
  • 1/3 of all the food we eat depends on pollinators
  • More than 100 types of crops are pollinated by bees in the US – including clover and alfalfa that feed our cows
  • Beekeeping has a migration route throughout the US. Their timing is critical and weather dependent.

After we discussed the facts of bees and the benefits of honey, we went out to experience them first hand!

We walked and did exactly what Jimmy Gardner does on the daily. The feeling of the wind produced from the bees wings as they land on your hood is a feeling that you can’t explain. Your first reaction is to swat them, but then you remember that you are safe in the suit. You see and hear them working hard to care for their queen. We were able to label the drone bees versus the worker bees. Then we found her! We found the Queen!

It was a great day! Thank you for hosting us, Redhouse Beef. Thank you for teaching us, United Honeybees!

Happy Cows Come From California, Smart Cows Come From UC Davis!

FARMS Leadership Program: Sacramento Valley: February 21st, 2019

Location of Field Day: Davis, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Dan Sehnert – Department of Animal Science Facilities Coordinator
  • Ed DePeters – UC Davis Professor and Master Advisor for Animal Science major’s
  • Katharina Ullman – Director of UC Davis Student Farm

Theme: College and Career Exploration

Summary of the Day:

Dan Sehnert, the UC Davis Department of Animal Science Facilities Coordinator, welcomed the Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership students to UC Davis. The students were then split up into 4 groups and toured the Dairy Cattle Facility, Horse Facility, Avian Hatchery, and the Meats Lab. At the dairy the students were able to assist in treating a sick cow, see new born calves, and help UC Davis student employees vaccinate. At the horse facility the students were given a tour and learned about the different ways in which horses are studied at UC Davis. Afterwards the students were given the opportunity to groom the horse’s as well as see a week old foal that was bred and born at the facility. At the hatchery student’s learned how to candle eggs and were able to see different varieties of birds at different stages of incubation. The final facility the students visited was the Meats Lab. Students were given a tour, the different processing practices used to process cattle, hogs and lambs were discussed and the students were able to sample some beef jerky and snack sticks that the Meats Lab produced.

After the facility tours we all met back at the UC Davis Cole Facility where Dr. Ed DePeter’s joined us. He discussed with the FARMS Leadership students the college experience. Dr. DePeter’s is a professor at UC Davis and went over the different classes and opportunities that both UC Davis and the Animal Science Department offer. After our visit with Dr. DePeter’s we headed to campus where the students had the opportunity to dine like a college student at Tecero Student Dining Hall.

We concluded our day at the Student Farm and Market Garden. Katharina Ullman, the Director of the Student Farm, welcomed us and gave the students a tour. The students were able to learn about the different crops and herbs grown at the Student Farm as well as see the Market Garden and learn about the CSA program that UC Davis students implement.  

FARMS Leadership Student Quotes:

“I had a lot of fun learning about the background and specifics that go into horse breeding!” – Melina C.

“I really enjoyed working with the calves and getting to help vaccinate them!” – Tyler R.

A little bit of this and that….

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley Central

Field Date: Thursday, February 21, 2019

Location of Field Day: Peterson Packing House, Kingsburg CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Vernon Peterson

Theme: Packing House, Chickens and a Trout Release

Summary of the Day:

Our day started off with a tour of the Petersons Citrus Packing House, where students rotated between Quality Control, Administration, Security, and Loading.  The students rotated between the 4 jobs for about 30 minutes each. In quality control, students learned how to test the citrus to the specifications for sale in each category.  In the admin office, students learned how to bill, shipping/receiving and distribution works. At some points, the packing shed will run 24 hours a day. In the security office, students learned how to keep the machines running and that the employees were carefully completing the tasks at hand.  Finally, students help load and keep track and pack the pallets that went onto the trucks and out to the stores.

After lunch, Mr. Peterson took us to his family’s chicken ranch.  He showed the students how quickly the chickens grew and how his employees cared for the chickens and the houses they lived in.  He showed us how technology-based is houses were as they continuously kept a temperature of about 70-90 degrees depending on how old the chickens were.  

Finally, students from the FARMS (Center for Land-Based Learning) program at Patiño School of Entrepreneurship took a field trip in February to Peterson Organic Farms and the Kings River North Riverside access point.  The students learned about organic farming practices and assisted with the Kings River Conservation District and Kings River Conservancy (KRC) trout release to plant and repopulate the Kings River. Students had the opportunity to meet local leaders and watch the KRC video about education and the role of the river.

Organic Pest Management

FARMS Advanced | Monterey and Santa Cruz | February 21, 2019

Participating Schools:

Soledad High School

Location(s):

1700 Old Stage Road, Salinas

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Nathan Harkleroad – ALBA 
  • Octavio Garcia – ALBA 

Summary of the Day:

Students arrived at ALBA with coffee in hand. They found a seat at the front and I began with a greeting and check-in. ALBA stands for Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association and they provide educational courses on organic farming. Today students would learn more about IPM in an organic setting.

The Definition of IPM – The use of various methods to reduce pest population below economically damaging levels without adverse secondary effects

Students were presented information on IPM by Nathan Harkleroad. He showed the different levels of pest control management which are:

  1. Cultural Control
  2. Physical Mechanical Control
  3. Biological Control
  4. Chemical Control

Following Nathan’s IPM introduction was Octavio Garcia, a hardworking young man with an inspiring story about his journey to becoming a PCA and Farmer. He then explained what his typical day looks like and what his responsibilities are as a PCA. Students asked great questions about the workload and the difference between conventional IPM and organic IPM. Octavio shared that the IPM model was the same for both Organic and Conventional with exception of the types of controls used in Chemical Control level.

Nathan had a small hand lens for students to use out in the field. We headed outside to the strawberry beds to test out the lenses and drop predatory mites by hand. The beds were still wet from the rain and we all had soggy boots and feet when we were done. We then watched some informative videos by USDA researcher Eric Brannan and his findings on using asylum flowers as an insectary plant and hedgerows to manage pests by providing habitat for pollinators and birds that can help manage rodents and insects. The last activity on the agenda was a skills assessment activity to talk with students about soft and hard skills. It was a fun activity to do with students and I could vouch for their soft skills because I have seen these skills demonstrated.

  • Estrella is enthusiastic, social and reliable.
  • Andrea is organized, a team player and responsible.
  • Diana is patient, positive and a great listener.
  • Precious is honest, hardworking, and patient.
  • Aaron is loyal, task-oriented with an outlandish personality.

All of them are excellent public speakers, intuitive, mature, caring, fast learners and a pleasure to work with.

Feeding Animals in Agriculture

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley South

Field Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Location of Field Day: Western Milling Goshen CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Mark Krebsbach  | Chad Pinter | Eric Brandenburg | Buster Freeman  |

Theme: Grains and Milling

On Tuesday, February 19th the Central Valley South FARMS Leadership Program consisting of El Diamante High School, Lindsay High School and Mt. Whitney High School met at Western Milling in Goshen CA.  Students were treated to breakfast burritos upon our arrival. The leadership team was determined and they were in charge of introducing our hosts for the day. We were welcomed by Mr. Chad Pinter, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Western Milling along with his welcome Mr. Pinter presented the company overview.  Next, the students were split into two groups and rotated through a Mill Tour with Buster Freeman and a Retail Tour with Todd Willeke. After our Mill and Retail Tours, we met back in the conference room with Mark Krebsbach, Ag Leadership Foundation Class 48. During lunch, the students sat with individuals from different departments at Western Milling.  We were joined by Reina Carbajal, Human Resources; Rene Urquia, Environmental Health and Safety Director; Rebecca Norred, Office Manager; Stan Dillon, Maintenance; Joel Karlin, Economist. They talked about and asked questions of how they got into agriculture, their college choices and what they did during their workday at Western Milling. Then a student from each group introduced their guest to the whole group and they told the entire group what they did at Western Milling and how it’s different from where they thought they would be.  Finally, Mark Krebsbach led a “Who am I” workshop asking the students to tell the group about who they are. Students did share what they wanted about themselves with the group. It was a great time for the students to be vulnerable. They really opened up to the group about themselves and did a great job. We appreciate what Mark and his colleagues at Western Milling do for our group. As always it is a great day we spend at Western Milling.

Access to the Best Walnuts in the World!

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: February 14th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Linden, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Jennifer Williams – Marketing Director for California Walnuts
  • Joseph Stacher – Production Manager for Prima Frutta
  • Katie Arce – Walnut Quality Control for Prima Noce

Theme: Walnuts and Ag Technology

Summary of the Day:

For our fifth field day of the 2018-2019 year we headed to Prima Noce in Linden California to learn about Walnut production and processing and the technology used in this booming industry. With the anticipation of upcoming rain showers we began our field day inside the break room of the apple processing building at Prima Frutta (the fruit processing division of the Prima company).  Once we finished our ice breakers and the students all finished their breakfast Jennifer Williams, the Marketing Director for California Walnuts introduced her self and joined us for the day at Prima Noce. Since there was a break in the rain in the morning we then headed outside for a tour of the orchards and processing facilities lead by Joseph Stacher the Production Manager for Prima Frutta.

While out in the orchards the students were able to see different varieties of walnut trees. We were also able to learn about the different stages of production between the various orchards and also the different styles of growing walnut trees including the grafting process. Joseph gave us a great over view of how things are managed at Prima Noce and the history of the company and then Jennifer gave her insight on how they compared to the walnut industry as a whole.

After leaving the orchard we toured the walnut processing facilities. The students put on hair nets and washed up at the high tech washing stations and then we were able to see all stages of Prima Noce’s production line. We saw everything from in shell walnuts, chopped walnuts, sliced walnuts to the packaging of walnuts. After finishing the tour of the walnut processing facilities we then tour the cherry processing facility which is gearing up to begin again in April and the apple processing facilities which is just wrapping up their season. We finished our tours just as the rain began to pick up and we headed back into the break room where we began our day.

The students took a break for lunch and then Joseph introduced Katie Arce, the woman in charge of Walnut Quality Control for Prima Noce. They taught the students how quality control works in the walnut industry and then the students were split into groups and able to work on sorting 100 walnuts in trays based on quality.

IPM, Citrus and Professional Development

Program: FARMS Advanced Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley

Field Date:  Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Location of Field Day: Bee Sweet Citrus

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Monique Bienvenue

Theme: IPM, Citrus and Employment

Students from the FARMS Advanced Leadership Program spent the day at Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler CA with Monique Bienvenue.  Upon arrival we were whisked away to the field for a field presentation with one of their Pest Control Advisors. He talked with the students about IPM and Citrus.  Following the field presentation we drove back to the packing facility and walked through the facility. After a short lunch, Monique shared with the students tips about Resumes, Interviews and Social Media.  The students took a lot away from their day with Monique. It’s good for students to learn about these things from the industry professionals.

Bee Sweet Citrus

Sierra Cascade Logging Expo

FARMS Advanced | Tehama County | February 7, 2019

Location of Field Day
Anderson, CA

Participating High Schools
Red Bluff High School
Los Molinos High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School

Field Day Host
Sierra Cascade Logging Conference, Sierra Pacific Industries

Summary of the Day:

Tehama County FARMS Advanced was invited by Sierra Pacific Industries to visit the Sierra Cascade Logging Expo in Anderson, Ca and learn all about the diversity in the logging industry. Living in Tehama County, we daily see logging trucks traveling down the road and these FARMS Advanced students also visited Sierra Pacific Industries during their year in FARMS Leadership which is one of the largest logging companies in Northern California. However, students don’t always think of logging as part of agriculture, so this opportunity was very fitting and gave the students an up close look at the equipment, and companies that are involved in the daily operations of this very demanding and regulated industry.

Walking into the largest forest products and construction equipment exposition in the west was very impressive and the students were greeted by Tommy 2×4 the mascot as well as some HUGE equipment. Throughout the day we explored all the different types of equipment that are used in the logging industry such as skidders, log loaders, and feller bunchers and were able to network with different operators as well as reps for the companies that manufacture the equipment.

“I was impressed at how expensive the equipment is and the amount of advanced technology they use for every job.” -Mary Pat Peterson, Mercy High School

Of course, at expo’s it’s not all business…the students also went through stations that included other aspects of the industry including a wildlife presentation, learning about sustainability of forests, how Cal Fire is involved and wildfire prevention, college students who were competing in different ax throwing contests, as well as watching a wood carver.

“It was very interesting being able to look inside the cockpit of the CalFire helicopter as well as being able to climb in where the firefighters would sit!” -Stephanie Mills, Red Bluff High School