The final SLEWS day of the (school) year

Sacramento Charter High School at Clark Ranch 1
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | April 17, 2019

Participating School
Sacramento Charter High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo Resource Conservation District
Rominger Brothers Farms
Bruce Clark

Mentors
Bob Ream, retired
Corey Shake, Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science, NRCS
Dana Stokes
Jess Rudnick, UC Davis graduate student

Summary of the Day
For the final Field Day with Sacramento Charter High School (and final Field Day of the 2018 – 2019 SLEWS season!) we were back at our original site, Clark Ranch. Our first Field Day was here back in December, but for our second day we installed irrigation at a site in Woodland. It had been over 4 months since our day at this site and it was remarkable how much had changed. In December the site was so muddy we couldn’t bring vehicles in, and it rained intermittently throughout the day. This time, it was plenty dry to drive on and at eighty degrees was the hottest SLEWS day of the season!

Students were excited during breakfast to find a native butterfly we identified as a Painted Lady. We played PVC golf to connect with our mentor groups before heading out to see the plants we had planted back in December. As this site had experienced a lot of wind and some flooding with the stormy winter we had, our task was to replace bamboo poles, adjust tubes and emitters, and weed around the plants to increase their chance at survival. One student found caterpillars while working along the hedgerow and wondered if they might be Painted Ladies – the same species we saw earlier in the adult (butterfly) form.

After completing our restoration work, mentor Jessica Rudnick, a UC Davis Graduate Student, led the students in a fun educational activity. She explained that they would be investigative journalists, and their assignment was to figure out how the farm was addressing environmental issues. Students rotated between stations learning about pollination (and native habitat benefits!), weeds and cover crops, irrigation, and predators on the farm. Students got to try immature almonds and were surprised to find they tasted like cucumbers! And appropriately, as mentor Corey Shake was discussing predators on the farm, a Swainson’s Hawk flew overhead.

Once students had had a chance to learn about all aspects of the farm, they compiled their reports. Some students elected to share their findings – one memorable and report was a student who chose to be a critical reporter and delivered a hilariously negative story about the almond orchard.

After lunch, we celebrated student Jordan’s birthday before ending the day with a closing circle. Many students remarked that they really enjoyed seeing how much their plants had grown in the past four months!

Restoration, past and present

Pioneer High School at Jack Rice’s
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | April 12, 2019

Participating School
Pioneer High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Jack Rice

Mentors
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS
Francisco Bellido Leiva, UCD graduate student
Miles Daprato, Environmental Steward for UCD Campus Planning and Environmental Stewardship Department
Nick Gallagher, Rangeland Management Specialist, USDA

Summary of the Day
For our second and final day with Pioneer High School, we started not at Jack Rice’s property but at East Regional Pond, a site that underwent a restoration effort several years ago. After a very windy opening circle, Brandon Baker of Yolo County Resource Conservation District led students on a tour around the pond. It was a project he himself worked on, and provided a great example of what restoration projects look like after several year’s growth.

On our journey around the pond, Brandon found the nest of a Killdeer right in the middle of the path! It didn’t look like much, just a few pebbles arranged in a circle – Brandon explained that male killdeer will make a nest to try to woo a female. This one had likely been abandoned, but we did see a killdeer further up the road.

After some time exploring the park, we loaded up and headed to Jack Rice’s to complete our SLEWS project. A few weeks prior, we had planted 180 native plants around the perimeter of his property, and they seemed to be doing well so far. To give them an even better chance at survival, we would be applying a thick layer of mulch around each plant. Jack Rice had moved a several-foot-thick layer of mulch just outside the planting area so students were able to access the soil for the planting day, but now it needed to be moved around to plants to be put to use.

Working in mentor groups and using shovels, pitchforks, and gloved hands, Pioneer students spread out throughout the planting area to mulch the plants. Again, there were many doubts amongst mentors and restoration partners that the work would be completed – the work wasn’t easy, and the planting area long! True to form, Pioneer students finished the project just in time for lunch.

After enjoying delicious burritos, students divided up amongst mentors to ask them questions about their education and career paths. Many students remarked that having the opportunity to learn from professionals in this way was one of their favorite parts of their SLEWS experience. Other favorites included planting, learning about habitat restoration, seeing the killdeer nest, and bonding with classmates – lots of variety!

Cleaning Up The Trash At Cal Waste!

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: April 11, 2019

Location of Field Day: Galt, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Mary Beth Ospital – Cal Waste Community Outreach Coordinator

Theme: Sustainable Management Practices

Summary of the Day:

Our final field day of the 2018-2019 program year with the SJ FARMS Leadership Program was a little different this year. We visited and toured Cal Waste and Galt, CA. The FARMS students learned about sustainable management practices and how to be more effective and efficient in their recycling habits.

We began our day in the Outreach and Education room at Cal Waste. We were welcomed by Mary Beth who gave us an introduction to the company and an overview about what Cal Waste is all about. Cal waste is a family owned business and is the largest, locally-owned waste collection and material recovery operation in the region, providing residential, commercial and industrial services to areas throughout Sacramento, Calaveras, Alpine and San Joaquin Counties. On the far side of the room was a large window that over looked the MRF, which is a materials recovery facility. This is where all of the recycling and garbage is brought in, processed, and sorted by material type.

Mary Beth then took us on a tour of the facilities. We were able to check out the different types of vehicles up close. We also toured the mechanic shop where the trucks are worked on and maintained. Then we checked out the MRF from the ground floor. After we finished our toured we headed back to the Outreach and Education room. Cal Waste hosted us for lunch and the students presented their Community Action Projects. These are the projects the students worked on within their school groups to better their community and teach others about what they have been learning about this year in FARMS. After the students were done with lunch and their presentations we played Cal Waste’s versions of jeopardy and bingo to conclude our day!

Student Quotes:

“Today I learned the 3 R’s; reuse, reduce, and recycle!” – Melina, from Health Careers Academy

“I learned that you can’t recycle pizza boxes and other products contaminated with food waste.” – Oduwa, from Langston Hughes Academy

“I learned that when we recycle products that are not recyclable it becomes someone else’s job to sort the garbage out.” – Leslie, from Health Careers Academy


Wetlands, Waterways & Watersheds

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | April 11, 2019

Participating Schools:

  • Gonzales High School
  • North Salinas High School
  • Soledad High School
  • Watsonville High School

Location(s):
Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Rd, Castroville, Ca 95012

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Dave Feliz – California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Virginia Guhin – California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Ariel Hunter – California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Summary of the Day:
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarian Research Reserve or Elkhorn Slough Reserve for short is located halfway between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey. The middle ground between 2 counties and our FARMS Leadership Program which spans both Santa Cruz County and Monterey County. The Reserve itself is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The day started with a quick breakfast, housekeeping, and an ice breaker. Virginia Guhin, the education programs coordinator started the discussion off by asking students about their career interests to warm them up and start the conversation. From there she shared more about the Elkhorn Slough Estuary Reserve and her role as the education coordinator. She then introduced Dave Feliz who delivered a speech connecting everything Virginia shared about the Reserve to the land and ultimately agriculture. He spoke about different ways of using agriculture fields for both profit and conservation like how rice farmers can support water foul populations. In the end, we all need to work together to preserve land, water, species, and food systems.

The inspiring talk was a perfect lead in to the two activities. Students were split into two groups. One took a hike to the boardwalk to see the slough and the other group did a fun hands-on activity with Ariel Hunter called Watershed Masters. The word watershed is not a word that is taught in schools so it was not a surprise when students had no idea what a watershed was. I must admit that I personally hadn’t heard that word until my 20’s so I was happy that students would have the opportunity to learn about watersheds way before I did. The groups did a quick switch and once everyone had a chance to hike and participate in a hands-on activity we ate lunch and departed for Moon Glow Dairy.

Moon Glow Dairy was once a dairy and is now known as the Hester Marsh Restoration Site. This site is a new experimental idea to restore the marshlands and plant native plants that create habitats for different wildlife and organisms. It is an exciting and innovative restoration project to witness in the beginning stages. Elkhorn Slough has restored the site by strategically placing dirt in the area that was engineered to mimic a natural occurring marshland that once was there before the dairy. Students helped with the conservation efforts by weeding out some of the invasive species that are not welcome. Students asked questions about the different plants they saw and before you know it was time to clean up and head back to the vehicles.

Beneficials at SunView


FARMS Program | Kern County |April 9, 2019

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

The good bugs are eating the bad bugs! These students witnessed this first-hand last year as part of FARMS Leadership’s tour of Bakersfield College back in 2018.

Today, they were able to see partner SunView Vineyards ingenuity on breeding these beneficial bugs! While this isn’t a new practice, it is unusual to have the breeding facility onsite. Other companies tend to buy their predatory mites from a distributor.

We spent the afternoon with Cristina Gomez, Assistant Director of Entomology at Sun View Vineyards. As part of Cristina’s duties, she manages the Beneficial Insectory.

The Predator Mite Greenhouse

We followed Cristina to the greenhouses. The first greenhouse was the breeding ground for the predatory mite. Cristina described how they maintain the environment for breeding. They need humid and warm conditions. We walked out to get a bit of fresh air and then headed into the next greenhouse. This greenhouse is breeding the spider mites to feed the predatory mites. We discussed the irrigation that it takes to maintain the environment as well.

Students were able to meet Marco Zaninovich, Owner and talk about FARMS Leadership and how it has made an impact on them. It was a great afternoon! Thank you, Sun View Vineyards!

It Was Coming Up Roses in Wasco, CA


FARMS Advanced Program | Kern County |April 9, 2019

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

40% of the nation’s roses come from Wasco, California! Wasco sits just northwest of Bakersfield and is known for its Roses. People travel to come to the Annual Festival of Roses every Labor Day to see the beauty that is blossoming in Wasco, CA.

We arrived at Weeks Roses in Wasco and were greeted by Manager, Stu Chamberlain. He helped us get an up close and personal look at the growing, shipping, packing, and practices in place to protect the product through Integrated Pest Management. Stu shared that they are one of the largest rose growers in the world. A couple of key customers are Amazon and Home Depot! We toured the cold storage where we learned how the roses are forced into dormancy. Pesty fungus and mold are a concern in the cold storage and they use a general fungicide to treat those issues. As we walked into the cold storage we sat 257 varieties of roses!

Touring the Cold Storage

“I don’t think I even knew that there were that many types of roses!” Said Casey Sprayberry, FARMS Advanced student from Independence High School.

There were other containers that were being prepared for shipping. Containers of grapes, figs, iris, and cherries. Weeks also partners with the university extension office and Cal Poly Pomona to learn about stone fruit and other various crops. It was now time to walk through the greenhouse and learn about Greenhouse Management.

Assisting with pest management, ID Services LLC’s Alan Butterfield, walked us through the nursery teaching us about the different pests they battle. Mr. Butterfield taught the students the symptoms to look for. We shadowed him as he talked us through his daily practice, then it was time for the students to give it a try. Students scanned the crop to put a numerical grade on the percent damaged by the pest. We then discussed what to do when we found damage. We discussed Label Identification, Recommendation, and classes of insecticides. Students were able to remove who plants when the pest had taken over too much and it was a complete loss.

From the Greenhouse Tour, we took a driving tour of the planted fields. Iris was in bloom and beautiful! There was cover crop planted to restore the soil in some lots. We talked about the grains of that field being sent to cereal companies. After our tour, each student received a catalog of roses and they were able to choose one to take home. What a gift!!

Thank you Stu Chamberlain, Alan Butterfield and staff! It was a great day out at Weeks Roses. We can’t wait to come back!

“Do You Pronounce it “Am” mond or “All” mond?”

Chamisal Creek Field Day

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: April 9, 2019

Location of Field Day: Arbuckle, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Mike and Amy Doherty – Owner’s and Operator’s of Chamisal Creek

Theme: Sustainable Management Practices

Summary of the Day:

We began our field day at Chamisal Creek with an introduction by Mike Doherty, the owner of the farm. We then walked out into a newly planted almond orchard to learn about their production practices and the industry needs from almond farmers. This led to a discussion about water usage and needs and Mike shared his philosophy on ground water recharge and what Chamisal Creek is doing to preserve and lessen their water usage. We then traveled across the road to see where the man made water reservoir that Mike built was located and the run off from his orchard is collected. We then finished up this portion of the day looking at their mature almond orchard. We discussed the different variations in which orchards can be planted and the different practices used for orchard irrigation. At Chamisal Creek they use a drip system.

We then did a quick driving tour of part of their property and made our next stop at the Chamisal Creek vineyards. Here we learned a little about viticulture and how Chamisal Creek emerged into the viticulture and wine industry. Next we headed down to Mike’s shop where the student’s were able to learn about and get hands on with some of the equipment used at the ranch. We also walked around their solar panels and learned about the solar operations as well.

After visiting the shop and checking out the different types of equipment we took a break for lunch. Amy Doherty, Mike’s wife prepared a buffet style lunch while grilling burgers for all the students as well as some of their employees who joined us as well. Once we finished lunch we discussed a little bit about rangeland management as we headed to our last stop of the day. They students planted acorns into pots to be transplanted next year. After that we headed up to the top of the property where students planted oak saplings along the edge of the road.

Forestry and Wildlife in Agriculture

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley Central

Field Date:  Monday, April 8, 2019

Location of Field Day: Reedley College

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Kent Kinney

Theme: Forestry and Wildlife Program

On Monday, April 8, 2019, Patino and Sunnyside High School students joined at Reedley College for the last field day of the 2019 FARMS Leadership Program.  A student volunteer introduced Mr. Kent Kinney, the Forestry Professor at Reedley College. We then joined a Fish and Wildlife Biology Lab Class in fishing for count in the colleges pond.  After this exercise, students joined the mule packing team in the barns. Each group of 4 students watched the Mule Packing demonstration before demonstrating it themselves. The students were taught how to properly pack the mule for overnight adventures and in case of undesirable weather to keep their supplies dry for the trip.  Finally, our day ended with a guided River Walk on the Kings River with students from the Forestry Lab class. Students have to know all of the type of trees and shrubs seen out on the walk and taught our students and then quizzing them. What an amazing day at a college that is practically in our own backyard.

IPM Everything

Program: FARMS Advanced Leadership Program

Region: CV Advanced

Field Date:  Thursday, April 4, 2019

Location of Field Day: Selma Library

Theme: Revisiting what we learned about IPM

On Thursday, April 4, 2019, FARMS Advanced students from the Central Valley gathered at the Selma Library to review and revisit what they learned about IPM throughout their year.  We reviewed every pillar topic from each Field Day and discussed how they were alike and/or different Those pillar topics were how Regulation, Sustainability, Footprint, Media, Water, IPM and Careers, Technology & Innovation, Labor and Politics in relation to IPM.  After this we had a group lunch and talked about our final thoughts about IPM and their future in Agriculture or Program as a possible intern.

Monkeyflower Ranch

FARMS Advanced | Monterey and Santa Cruz | April 4, 2019

Participating Schools:

Soledad High School

Location(s): Monkey Flower Farms, 1481 San Miguel Canyon Rd. Royal Oaks, CA 95076

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Rebecca King – Owner and operator of Monkey Flower Ranch

Summary of the Day:

We started the day with a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and sheep yogurt straight off the Farm. Over brealfast, we learned about Rebecca King and what motivated her to become a farmer. The tour of the farm began promptly after and students were able to see Lambs and the machine that milks them apart from their mothers. They saw sheep, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Students were given an opportunity to milk a sheep for the first time. Rebecca King sells sheep and pigs for meat. The sheep are harvested for milk and chickens produce eggs. All the food she feeds her animals is a waste product from another industry. Pigs are feed old veggies and fruits from a partnering farm as well as spent hops and grains from an organic brewery in the area.

Monkey Flower Ranch operates as sustainably as possible by providing habitat for pollinators and wildlife with hedgerow, and also by rotating the animals between several different pastures to ensure that the land isn’t overgrazed and has time to regrow.

The largest part of the ranch operation is the cheese making and Rebecca has cleverly labeled her cheese Garden Variety Cheese. Students learn about how cheese is made and how technical the process is to ensure food safety. A quick walk through the cheese caves awaked students senses and got them ready for lunch. Students helped make lunch which was a farm fresh cobb salad complete with Garden Variety Cheese samples. After lunch, we did some planning and social media marketing activities where students had a chance to make some promotional items for the Ranch to market an upcoming Open House.