A Day in the Woods

After a bit of a drive, Tehama FARMS Advanced was greeted with the fresh mountain air on a late spring morning and temperatures that didn’t even warrant a sweatshirt. Sierra Pacific Industries invited our group to attend the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference Inc. “In Woods Forest Harvest Demonstration Day”. This is a day where a group of industry supporters take the time to carve out of the forest a 1-mile trail for groups of students who are led by experts in logging to hike and stop at several stations to see the very impressive logging equipment at work as well as meet and network with a variety of industry professionals.

Once we had been properly fitted with fancy hard hats to ensure everyone was exercising supreme safety, we started off following our leader who was a Wildlife Biologist for Sierra Pacific Industries. As we wandered through the woods we heard from many different local volunteer programs such as The Backcountry Horsemen and Shasta County Search and Rescue and the different ways they work with our logging industry to accomplish different tasks. Not only did we meet volunteer units, we also met Jim Lepage from Lepage Company who’s focus is building and maintaining the logging roads. He spoke with the students about the career opportunities with heavy equipment and why their jobs are so important to the logging companies. Of course safety comes first, so without quality roads the big rig drivers driving heavy loads of logs could not safely get in and out of these deep woods locations, but also how roads that they can safely drive a moderate speed on will increase efficiency and the number of loads one trucker can make with logs in a day. Time = Money.

As we rounded the bend we could hear the loud sound of a saw and smell the fragrance of freshly cut wood. This began our walk into what truly happens in the forest during a harvest. First we learned the different ways there are to fall, or cut down, a tree. We heard from a 30 year wood cutter about the tools and manual labor that goes into cutting a tree by hand which he demonstrated on a HUGE pine tree right in front of us. It was amazing to see his skill, precision, and speed with his chainsaw as well as the ability to make the tree fall exactly where he wanted. He was able to fall and cut into logs roughly 50 trees a day and therefore is used to process the trees who’s trunks are too large in diameter for the heavy equipment that we watched but are able to do closer to 1500-2000 trees in a day. We then followed the process to the landing site that was set up where a harvester was delimbing and cutting trees into “logs” of appropriate length, then a feller-buncher was gathering and loading logs onto a truck to be hauled off the mountain and to a processing plant. It was such an amazing experience to see first hand these GIANT machines at work and meet the men who were behind the controls.

Thank you too all those who took part at the In Woods Demonstration Day and Sierra Pacific Industries for inviting us to take part. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and have a much greater understanding and appreciation for the logging industry as a whole. We hope to be apart of it in the future!

FARMS Advanced visits Chico State

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | March 5, 2019

Location of Field Day
Chico, CA

Field Day Host
Sarah DeForest, College of Agriculture Director of External Relations

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

Theme
College Exploration, Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:

The morning began with meeting Sarah DeForest, the director of external relations, at the Chico State Farm. There we began our networking and practiced our professional introductions. Sarah invited us on a tour where we visited each of their 4 animal units; dairy, beef, swine, sheep as well as saw how diverse they are with having 800 acres of orchards, row crops and garden plots with green houses.

At the dairy unit, we learned about there operation and how and why they transitioned from a conventional herd to the current organic herd they have which allows them to market “organic milk”. With the current milk market, and the college operating a small herd of 80 cows they are able to sell their milk for a higher price as organic as well as give their students a leg up in the industry by learning the practices that come with organic farming. We toured the milking parlor which can hold 6 cows at a time and is equipped with automatic grain feeders as well as RFID readers that record the data from each cow as they enter and are milked. Then we went out and saw all the calves that are bottle raised and will be used as replacement cows as they get older and are ready to join the milk string. Of course everyone loved them! We went on to see the swine unit which houses 30 sows with their largest market for the babies being project hogs for local 4-H and FFA kids. Next we saw the sheep unit where they raise Southdowns, Suffolk, and Hampshires all again which are bred and raised for market or breeding animal youth projects. Lastly we explored the beef unit where we learned about their past partnership with Sierra Nevada Brewery which demonstrated the importance of networking as well as saw their current production feed experiment and the technology associated with it.

After our fun with the livestock units, we joined a Plant Science 101 lab and were able to see hands on how a college laboratory goes. The students jumped right in and joined the lab groups which were testing the nitrogen levels in soil between two different test groups, one with an additive and one that was a control.

Lastly, we headed over to the main campus for a quick lunch in the dining hall, followed by a brief tour of campus. I can not thank Chico State enough for this opportunity to showcase the school to our FARMS Advanced students!

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

Beneficial Insectary, Inc.

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | January 22,2019

Location of Field Day
Redding, CA

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

Field Day Host
Beneficial Insectary, Inc.

Participating Partners
Stephanie Drinkall

Theme
Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day
Tehama FARMS Advanced had the pleasure of visiting the Beneficial Insectary in Redding, CA who has been a leader in the production and application of beneficial organisms used in biological pest control and integrated pest management programs. Stephanie Drinkall, customer service representative, gave a fabulous presentation about all aspects of their business from the facilities, to the types of insects they raise, and what services they provide to customers.

It was fascinating to learn about how many different types of beneficial insects are raised and sold commercially to be used in IPM programs from small household sizes to major nursery settings. We were able to inspect fly predators and lacewings in both the adult form as well as larvae stage, as well as watch the lacewing larvae feed on aphids under a microscope. We also hear from one of their key outside salesman who goes out to customers farms and is able to not only identify current pest issues but also prescribe what types of beneficial insects should be used to help limit damage from the pests.

Bio security is taken very seriously and therefore we were not able to tour their farm or packing facility. However it was a great day with much knowledge gained why farmers are encouraged to implement IPM practices and how the Beneficial Insectary plays and important role in this.

Coleman Fish Hatchery

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | January 10, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Anderson, CA

Field Day Host:
Coleman Fish Hatchery

Participating Partners:
Ron Stone, Laura Mahoney

Theme:
Integrated Pest Management and Aquaculture

Summary of the Day: “Spawning day”……say what?!

The importance of caring for our waterways in ways that will encourage our salmon and steelhead to be able to make the journey to the ocean and then return back to their birthplace would have truly appreciated Tehama County’s FARMS Advanced trip to Coleman Fish Hatchery.

Coleman Fish Hatchery is located right on Battle Creek which feeds directly into the Sacramento River. We had the pleasure of taking part in one of the most important processes that takes place to continue the cycle of life for our local salmon and steel-head, spawning day. What does that mean? It is when the employees at Coleman Fish Hatchery “spawn” or collect the eggs out of the female fish, fertilize them with sperm from the male fish and then send these eggs to their incubation tanks so they can grow and develop into little fish in the safety of the hatchery.

Laura Mahoney greeted us and immediately put us to work. FARMS Advanced student, Mary-Pat from Mercy High School went to the incubation building where she helped a hatchery employee receive the eggs, transfer them into incubation trays, disinfect them of any pathogens that may have been in the water or carried by the fish by using and iodine bath, and then put them into the flow of water where they will continue to develop.

Students, Gabe Harris from Los Molinos High and Jack Lazzaretto from Orland High went to the spawning building where they met staff from Coleman Fish Hatchery as well as staff that was collecting scales and livers for research for both the Federal Government and California State. They learned how to sex the steelhead and know if they are truly ready for spawning. It quickly became apparent why waterproof shoes and a change of clothes was recommended! Gabe and Jack became part of the team and played important roles in this spawning process.

Once the spawning was finished, we followed the researchers into their certified lab where we watched them process the livers and ovarian fluid that was collected.

Lastly, we were treated to a tour of their ozone plant. What is an ozone plant? Water entering the hatchery comes from Battle Creek and contains bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be harmful to fish. Before the water is used for fish culture it is filtered and treated with ozone to kill all the disease organisms. All water used in the process of raising these fish is treated by this process.

Tehama County Mosquito Abatement meets FARMS Advanced

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | November 8, 2018

Location of Field Day
Red Bluff, CA

Field Day Host
Andrew Cox, Tehama County Mosquito Vector Control

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

Theme
Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:
In 1917 Los Molinos, CA had an outbreak of malaria, people were sick and dying. The world had already experienced this scenario during the building of the Panama Canal where the French people that were working on the canal were dying in huge numbers. It was discovered that malaria was being transferred to people by being bit by an infected female mosquito that was a carrier. So in 1917, Northern California created a mosquito vector control to help control the population of mosquitoes and therefore help eradicate malaria..

In the beginning years, they would float oil on the surface of the water to suffocate the mosquito larvae. Since then, we have come so far with the development of new chemicals and methods of controlling this deadly pest. Currently, Tehama County Mosquito Control is built of a team of men who assess the problems in their region and treat accordingly. Depending on whether they are having an issue with adults or larvae they decide which practice is best; treating the water, or fogging for adults.

“There are over 200 species of mosquitoes and some can go dormant for years.” -Stephanie Mills, Red Bluff High School

Water treatment is the easiest method and will kill the larvae before ever maturing into adults. The best approach in water is introducing the Mosquito Fish into bodies of water. These little fish feed on the larvae, stay about the size of a guppy, and are close to 100% effective! The public can pick up these fish at our local office to use in livestock water troughs, ponds, or any other standing water. There are also a couple of chemicals labeled for use in water. One is BTI which kills them, the other is Methoprene which causes them to have reproduction issues.

“It is crazy that female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite!” ~Gabe Harris, Los Molinos High School

Fogging for adults is the second method of controlling the mosquito. This is a very labor intensive task, and during peak mosquito season the technicians often work 14-16 hour days to be able to service their region. The air has to be just right, and typically they do it very early mornings. Each technicians truck is outfitted with a drop machine (fogger) that puts out about 4oz of permethrin per acre and is effective in reducing the population of adult mosquitoes and even some flies.

Spending the day with Tehama County Vector Control was not only educational, but fun! The students enjoyed the time spent with our local technicians and learning about the services they offer. Thank you Mosquito Abatement for your time and knowledge!!

Grass-Fed Beef in Kern County

FARMS Advanced Program | Kern County | November 6, 2018

Participating School
Independence High School
Ridgeview High School
Bakersfield Christian High School

Partners/Landowners
Debbie Wise, Owner of Red House Beef
Jessica Pounds, Owner of Moo Creamery Restaurant

Red House Beef’s grass-fed operation is a beautiful sight as you drive down Enos Ln (Hwy 43). Students met at RedHouse on a beautiful morning. We climbed the stairs to a roof-top porch where the view of the entire ranch could be seen. There is something about all of that green grass with cattle grazing, chickens clucking, and that makes you feel like all is right with the world.

Students had the opportunity to take part in the full ranch to table experience at Redhouse while learning what it takes to maintain pastures in a clean environment. Students took pasture samples and learned about the evaluation of the samples done in the lab. The lab is looking for vitamin content as well as pesticide-free, clean samples. Redhouse is not an organically certified, but they do follow as many of the practices as they can to stay “clean” and “Grass Fed” certified.

We discussed mob grazing, the benefits of grass-finished meats and got to take part in weight and health checks. Students ran the chute and experienced pulling tags, retagging, and treating common pink eye using patches instead of antibiotics.

We washed up and it was time for the best burgers ever! Our friends over at Moo Creamery prepared lunch for the whole group. We got to talk to owner Jessica Pounds about her restaurant and her desires behind selecting local vendors (like Redhouse) to feature in Moo’s dishes. Our meal was full of meaningful conversations with questions that get us excited for the future of agriculture.

We discussed the advantages of using poultry for pest management. Redhouse chickens follow the herd of cattle. When the cattle graze for a few days in one pasture they are moved to the next. The chickens are brought into the already grazed pasture to eat pests and fertilize the pasture. The chickens are housed in wagons – a triangular coop on wheels. Debbie Wise, the owner of Redhouse, shared with the students that she is learning about poultry and one of the struggles she has been having is that in certain breeds it is difficult to sex them and she wants to be sure on the ratio of males to females. Little did she know that our very own student, Joshua Crain is a poultry expert and is looking to major in Poultry Science. Joshua, a Junior at Independence High School, shared his knowledge with Debbie on the process of sexing the chickens.

We had a great day learning about a natural approach to ranching. Our livestock students learned that there are new approaches when it comes to cattle management

Integrated Pest Management at Cassin Ranch

FARMS Advanced | Monterey and Santa Cruz | October 28, 2019

School(s) Participating: Soledad High School

Location(s) of Field Day:

Cassin Ranch, 151 Silliman Rd. Watsonville, Ca. 95076

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Driscoll’s

  • Cristal Verduzco – Sr. Forecasting Manager Berries & FARMS Alumni
  • John Siletto – Main Speaker
  • Diego Nieto – Staff Scientist in Entomology
  • Micheal Moore – Director of Quality Operations
  • Fred Cook – Plant Pathology Research and Development
  • Gavin Sills – Breeding
  • Jenny Broome – Sr. Research Manager Global Plant Health
  • Ahna Miller – GIS Planning Analyst
  • Miranda Ganci – Plant Pathology Research Associate
  • Kelly Ivors – Plant Pathology
  • Kyle Rak – Plant Breeding

ParaBug

  • Chandler Bennett – Owner and Founder
  • Kevin Hill – ParaBug Pilot

Summary of the Day

The day begins with a waffle breakfast with lots of beautiful Driscoll’s berries at Cassin Ranch. Students participate in a quick icebreaker and I introduce our host and FARMS Alumni Cristal Verduzco who is the Senior Raspberry Forecaster for Driscoll’s. We do an activity with students to gauge what their understanding of Integrated Pest Management is. Student’s ideas were surprisingly really close.

“I believe that Integrated Pest Management is when you create an artificial ecosystem to eliminate any unwanted item in the plant without the use of pesticides.” – Aaron Arriago

Dr. Kelly Ivors who is very knowledgeable in IPM helped us learn more. Aaron was surprised to discover that integrated pest management still uses pesticides but does so as a last resort. Dr. Ivors also introduced the term P.C.A. or pest control advisor which plays a huge role in pest management because they offer growers advice on the pests they find and recommend the best ways to eliminate the pests. The discussion led to a talk about student’s plans after high school. Both Cristal and Dr. Ivors share their stories and offered some sound advice to students. It was a very casual and informative discussion.

John Silleto came by and talked to students about Driscoll’s as a company and touch on the values and the history of Driscoll’s. John was very open about some of the challenges they face as an international organization and encouraged students to go to college so they can help with some of those challenges. FARMS Advanced students asked questions and were very professional during the presentation.

From there we went into the labs with Diego Nieto to see pests and dissect bugs to see if they had parasites in them. It was very shocking to see a bug ripped apart on a magnified screen. It was a first for all of us.  After mutilating bugs we stepped outside with Kyle Rak to learn about his work in the raspberry test fields. In the background, Kevin Hill and Chandler Bennet prepped their ParaBug Drone for a demonstration.

In integrated pest management, one step to fighting pests is biological control and Chandler created a business that focusses on biological control by spreading predatory insects to fight crop-damaging pests. Students helped load the chamber with bugs and Kevin marked out a flight path and sent the drone to work. Meanwhile, students learned about how ParaBug started and asked many questions about what he does as a business owner and operator. It is hard to believe but we still had time to squeeze in one more activity before lunch.

We headed back to the lab, this time the plant pathology lab with Dr. Ivors and Miranda Ganci. Students put on their lab coats and helped investigate and diagnose a sick raspberry plant. The smashed pieces of the plant to a pulp so they could test for a specific phytophthora enzyme. The hands-on experience and support from professionals in the lab made students consider plant pathology as a potential career path.

Back at the conference room, Cristal Verduzco had lunch and a panel of Driscoll’s employees waiting to share their career pathways and open up about life challenges and successes. Students shared their plans for the future and panelist were very impressed by their public speaking skills, confidence, and professionalism to slow things down we took a trip to the lawn to take some group photos with employees and students. Then it was back inside for a discussion on GIS or geographic information systems with Ahna Miller. Ahna’s career pathway was interesting to hear and her sense of humor and fun energy captured students attention.

“ My favorite activity was the labs. I am really interested in Dr. Ivor’s career. I [also] learned more about how drones are used in Ag.” – Diana Mendoza

Terminus Dam

Title:  Food grows where water flows

Program: FARMS Leadership

Region: Central Valley Central

Field Date: October 23, 2018

Location of Field Day:  Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:  Shane Smith, KDWCD

Theme:  Importance of Water in Agriculture

On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, the Central Valley Central FARMS Leadership students from Patino High School and Sunnyside High School of Fresno Unified School District met for the first time of the 2018-2019 school year at the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District.  Shane Smith, Project-Administrative Manager with the KDWCD met with the students at the home office. We then caravaned to the US Army Corps of Engineer office at the Dam. While here Mr. Smith led a presentation about the Kaweah Delta Water Operations, What the district does, Groundwater Recharge, Stormwater Layoff and storage facilities.  He also explained the importance of irrigation and Fuseaes known as Tipping Buckets and Flood Control Activities. Students were able to walk down and see the 6 – 1 million pound tipping buckets up close. After lunch students spent time in leadership activities. They learned how to properly shake hands and learned how to successfully introduce another student to the group.  Students did a great job and we all enjoyed our visit to the Dam! Giovanni Chavarria, a student from Patino high school said, “This was one of my favorite trips because I learned how dams work. Also, this was the first field trip I had EVER been on and I enjoyed every moment.  I learned how to correctly shake hands and how to introduce someone in a professionally.”

I.P.M. 101

FARMS Advanced: Kern County: October 16, 2018

Kern County Cooperative Extension

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Dr. Brian Marsh, County Director UCCE Kern County/Agronomy Advisor
David Haviland, Entomology and IPM Adviser, UCCE Kern County
Dr. Mohammed Yaghmour, Area Orchard Systems Advisor, UUCE Kern County
Julie Finzel, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor, UCCE Kern County

Theme: Introduction to Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:

We are so excited to kick off our FARMS Advanced program where we are studying Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.). We have a total of 7 students from the following high schools Bakersfield Christian High School, Frontier High School, Independence High School, and Ridgeview High School. For our first Field Day, we visited the Kern County Cooperative Extension.

The services that our local Cooperative Extension provides are vast! Students toured and learned from our local advisors about the history of the Cooperative Extension providing insight into the services they provide and why – the foundation in which the Cooperative Extension was created. We then jumped right into Integrated Pest Management – our FARMS Advanced area of study for this school year.

What is Integrated Pest Management? The Cooperative Extension provided students with the ability to dig in to many aspects of Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M). Entomologist, David Haviland walked students through an interactive brainstorming session asking students to share different ways they manage pests at home. Through a hands on activity on identifying pest and beneficial pests, students soon realized that they have been using Integrated Pest Management for years and didn’t even know it. Students were able to spend time in the lab at the Cooperative Extension searching for Naval Orange Worm, a particularly pest worm that invades almonds and oranges. The day was packed with information like Safety of Pesticide Use, Plant Pathology, Biological Controls of Crop Pests, Regulation, Controlling Weeds and Invasive Plants, and finally a Case Study to bring it all together.

Students search for Naval Orange Worm

Dr. Haviland Teaching About Naval Orange Worm

Kern Advanced Students Study IPM