More Than Just the College Experience at UC Davis!

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: January 24th,  2019

Location of Field Day: Davis, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Dan Sehnert
  • Ed DePeters
  • Katharina Ullman

Theme: College and Career Exploration

Theme: College and Career Exploration

Summary of the Day:

Dan Sehnert, the UC Davis Department of Animal Science Facilities Coordinator, welcomed the San Joaquin 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.  Afterwards the students toured some near by classes and walked through one of the labs in the Plant Science building. We ended our day with an activity and the students collected cuttings from different plants and made mini bouquets with different aromas from flowers and spices.

Another day on the “Pharm”

Woodland High School at Pharm Schaer
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 24, 2019

Participating School
Woodland High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Candice Schaer

Mentors
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS
Gina Radieve, Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources
Miles Daprato, Environmental Steward for UCD Campus Planning and Environmental Stewardship Department
Susie Bresney, Staff Scientist, Stockholm Environment Institute

Summary of the Day
Just two weeks after installing irrigation at Pharm Schaer, we were back for the second phase of our project – planting the native trees and shrubs that will provide habitat and increase biodiversity on Candice Schaer’s property in Guinda.

We were once again treated to a brilliant, clear day in the Capay Valley with beautiful views of the hills. We began our day with an opening circle, playing “Where the Wind Blows” to learn more about one another. Then mentor groups learned to identify some of the plants we would be planting that day, including manzanita, Cleveland sage, coyote brush, fuschia, and toyon. Woodland High students played the most enthusiastic, competitive version of “Steal the Native Plant” I’ve seen all year – we had to modify the rules to prevent collisions!

Next, Brandon Baker of Yolo County Resource Conservation District led the students in a planting demonstration to learn the proper way to plant a native plant. Then students broke off into mentor groups, planting along the southern and eastern perimeters of Pharm Schaer. While planting, students were excited to see the sheep and llama that were providing weed control on the property! By the end of the morning, students had planted 120 native plants, buried two sections of irrigation line, and even started mulching the plants to reduce moisture loss and weed growth. We’ll finish this mulching project at our final Field Day in a few weeks.

After lunch, mentor Miles Daprato led a discussion about native ecology and read an excerpt from the book “The Ohlone Way” to help students visualize what this area might have been like thousands of years ago. This helped to put the restoration effort into context – though we won’t be able to get this area to look like it did back then, the hedgerow they installed will help provide resources to species whose habitat has been reduced.

Since we had seen so many birds on our first Field Day, I brought binoculars for our second Field Day and mentor groups explored the property, binocs in hand. Groups were able to spot Western Bluebirds, Say’s Phoebes, Western Scrub-Jays and more – even some cows grazing on the hills! Then, students found a quiet spot to reflect on the day and write a postcard to themselves about their experiences.

At closing circle, one student summed up her experience wonderfully, “I liked that we weren’t just planting, we were helping wildlife too!”. Thanks for another great day, Woodland High!

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.

Farm Bureau/CAP Planning

FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | January 17, 2019

Location of Field Day
Red Bluff, CA

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

Field Day Host
Kari Dodd, Tehama County Farm Bureau Manager

Theme
CAP Planning

Summary of the Day:
Students started the morning with a fun activity of building student bio books. It was a great way to start the year by digging into self awareness as well as setting some SMART goals. Throughout the activity all the students wrote and illustrated 3 topics: Where did I come from? Who am I today? Where am I going? Lastly we set a SMART goal for the year. To finish this activity off, we went around the room and practiced our public speaking by presenting our books to the group. Public speaking is such an important skill that can never be over practiced.

Kari Dodd, Farm Bureau Manager, then did a wonderful presentation about Farm Bureau. It was great to open the student’s eyes as to what an important role Farm Bureau plays for our local farmers, as well as consumers and have some discussion about what a “grassroots” business is. She then had the students do an activity thinking about their strengths, and weaknesses.

To wrap up the day, each school designed a dream board as to what they want their Community Action Project to be. It was a fun way to get a jump on an important aspect of our FARMS Leadership program and being sure that we are making an impact in our local communities.

A rainy day at River Garden Farms

Florin High School at River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 15, 2019

Participating School
Florin High School

Partners/Landowners
Audubon California
River Garden Farms

Mentors
Aaron Haiman, Environmental Scientist and Tribal Liaison, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy
Esther Tracy, Environmental Scientist, Department of Water Resources
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS
Xerónimo Castañeda, Conservation Project Associate, Audubon California

Summary of the Day
Our second day at River Garden Farms wins the award for wettest Field Day of the season so far! As soon as students arrived we had them gear up in rain gear and mud boots before having breakfast under a canopy. We did an opening circle and played “Where the Wind Blows” to learn more about each other, before playing a round of “Steal the Native Plant” to learn more about some of the species we’d later be planting.

On our first Field Day we installed a drip irrigation system, but unfortunately this area was too muddy for us to access this time. Luckily, Dominic Bruno (Assistant General Manager of River Garden Farms) had another project up his sleeve – maintaining the native plant hedgerow that classes of SLEWS students help install in years past. He demonstrated the proper way to trim the deergrass bunches, plant milkweed seeds, and replant some of the plants that did not survive.

Two mentor groups set off, clippers in hand, to trim the deergrass. One group pretended they were working in a barbershop, giving “haircuts” to the bunches of deergrass on the levee. As one student put it, “we gave haircuts to 33 customers and not a single one left us a tip!”. Two other groups ventured in the opposite direction, replanting some of the plants from previous years that hadn’t survived. Finally, the fifth group worked on planting “companion” milkweed seeds next to established plants. These milkweed plants will be a crucial resource for migrating monarch butterflies. By the end of the day, Dominic estimated that students trimmed 45 deergrass, planted 100 milkweed plants as associates, and replanted 50 native trees and shrubs!

The rain continued to come down throughout the morning, so we decided to shelter for lunch. After taking off raingear, students loaded back up onto the bus to ride to the shop area for lunch. On the way, avid birder and mentor Aaron Haiman led the students in a birdwatching activity facing some flooded rice fields. Flooding the rice fields breaks down the rice stalks for the following growing season, but also creates artificial wetlands that provide habitat for migratory birds. River Garden Farms has added another level of restoration to this effort, growing “Fish Food” for young salmon in the Sacramento River. You can learn more about this awesome project by watching the short film “A New Way Forward” at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miIhs-mc_40.

Students enjoyed lunch in River Garden Farms’ shop area, eating at tables amongst rice harvesting machinery storage. Students especially enjoyed warming up by the heater after a chilly, wet day!

A change of scenery for Davis High

Davis High School at Dry Arroyo Creek
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 11, 2019

Participating School
Davis High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District

Mentors
Amanda Lindell, UC Davis graduate student
Arthur Barros, UC Davis graduate student
Bob Ream, retired
Claire Kouba, UC Davis graduate student
Elaine Swiedler, California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning

Summary of the Day
Our second Field Day with Davis High School brought us to a new location – Dry Arroyo Creek between Dixon and Winters. There have been several SLEWS projects in this area over the years, and Solano Resource Conservation District invited Davis High students to put some of the final touches on a restoration project many years in the making.

After breakfast, we learned more about one another through a game called “Wind in the Willows”. This game allows us to identify commonalities within the group, and strengthen our bond as a SLEWS team. Then, Solano Resource Conservation District staff led us in a demonstration of our restoration task for the day – plug planting native grasses! Students learned to use a “dibble” to poke holes in the ground, insert a grass “plug” (a small clump of native grasses) and pinch the soil over the top to prevent moisture loss. The hope is that these native grasses will outcompete invasive grass species, to improve soil stability and water retention and increase biodiversity.

Once students got a hang of the process, mentor groups spread out along the bank of dry arroyo creek and began planting grass plugs every 2 feet in a grid-like pattern. These grasses will eventually grow to fill in the entire area. I had one student ask me to further explain the impact these grasses will have in the area, and I appreciated her wanting to put the project into context! There were some very impressive feats of teamwork with some students measuring, some students “dibbling”, and students following to plant the grass plugs. By lunchtime, students had planted around 2000 native grass plugs!

Students had been eager to explore Dry Arroyo Creek all morning. Lucky for them, after lunch, Sarah McKibbin of Solano Resource Conservation District led the students across the creek on a native plant walk to see some of the plants that have become established through the restoration effort. Then students were given time to explore the creek and adjacent areas in mentor groups, identifying native plants and birds. One group even found a frog in the creek! As groups were exploring, Davis High teacher Sherri Sandberg rotated mentor groups through a water monitoring activity to assess the water quality of Dry Arroyo Creek.

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.

A sunny first day in the Capay Valley

Woodland High School at Pharm Schaer
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 10, 2019

Participating School
Woodland High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Candice Schaer

Mentors
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS
Gina Radieve, Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources
Miles Daprato, Environmental Steward for UCD Campus Planning and Environmental Stewardship Department
Susie Bresney, Staff Scientist, Stockholm Environment Institute

Summary of the Day
After our first Field Day was postponed due to poor air quality from the Camp Fire, we were eager to get started on our project at Pharm Schaer, Candice Schaer’s property in Guinda.

Since it was our first Field Day with Woodland students, our opening circle served as an introduction to the restoration project as well as the partners, landowners, and mentors. Alex Tremblay of Yolo County Resource Conservation District explained the project planning process and project goals, including planting native trees and shrubs to increase species diversity, promote beneficial insects and provide nectar sources for insects and cover for wildlife. Students also met the film crew from local public television show “Rob on the Road” – they were filming this field day for an upcoming segment on SLEWS!

After opening circle, students met with their mentor groups and were presented with a bucket of various irrigation supplies and tools – tubing, emitters, pokers, cutters, and connectors. Students were given time to practice with these items in order to become familiar with the components of a drip irrigation system. Students were quickly able to figure out how drip irrigation works, and Brandon Baker of Yolo County Resource Conservation District followed up with an instructional demonstration.

The first task was to roll out the irrigation line which is a major group effort! Each student helped carry a section of the 1400 foot tube, even rounding a corner. Once the line was laid down, one mentor group measured and flagged the line every ten feet so the other two mentor groups could follow, poking holes and installing emitters. After the line was complete, we did a quality check, turning the water on so students could replace emitters that were improperly installed. Woodland students worked so hard and efficiently that there wasn’t much to fix – we were even able to measure and install emitters on an additional 200 foot section of irrigation, far exceeding the landowner and RCD’s expectations for the day.

After lunch, I was so impressed to see Woodland students picking up shovels and pushing wheelbarrows to gather mulch – landowner Candice Schaer had asked for help filling in a muddy patch and they responded with trademark enthusiasm. They made short work of that small project, and then mentor groups ventured out to identify some native plants on the property. They even recognized a few plants we had planted that day!

To conclude the day, students found an area to sit by themselves and reflect on their experience in their Field Journal. At our closing circle, many students remarked that this moment of quiet reflection was their favorite part of the whole day.

A successful day of planting at Clark Ranch

Grant Union High at Clark Ranch 2
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 13, 2018

Participating School
Grant Union High School

Location
Clark Ranch 2 in Davis, CA – the southern of two projects at this site

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

Mentors
Amelia Munson, UC Davis graduate student
Jen Metes, Research Associate, Consero Solutions
Julea Shaw, UC Davis graduate student
Mandi Finger, Associate Director, Genomic Variation Lab
Sean McNamara, Farm Manager, Sierra Orchards

Summary of the Day
Students from Grant Union’s GEO Academy returned for their second Field Day at Clark Ranch to clear, calm skies – a welcome change after a VERY windy first Field Day! After breakfast and hot cocoa under the oak grove, we circled up to begin the day. We discussed the impact our project will have on the area, and the ways in which the plants will help improve the surrounding habitat. We also introduced new project mentors and partners before playing a game of group juggle to help us remember each other’s names.

Following opening circle we played “Steal the Native Plant” – a SLEWS planting day classic. Students learned the characteristics of manzanita, buckbrush, sage, elderberry, and coyote brush – five of the plants we’d be planting that day – before competing to be the first to identify species and earn points for their mentor groups.

Alex Tremblay of Yolo County Resource Conservation District let students in a planting demonstration to ensure our plants have the best possible chance of survival. One student was so inspired by this demonstration that he created an illustrated step-by-step guide during our end-of-day reflection (see below). Students jumped right into planting with enthusiasm and by lunchtime had planted 280 native trees and shrubs!

After lunch, students participated in a Nature Scavenger Hunt in their mentor groups, with most groups finding all 17 items in just 15 minutes! One group was excited to share that they found an owl pellet with bones inside, while another was thrilled to see a lizard as they explored the area. To finish the day, students reflected on their day by creating a “Postcard from the Field”, writing and drawing to sum up their experiences.

One exciting addition to this day was a film crew from local public television show “Rob on the Road” – they are doing a feature on the Center for Land-Based Learning and the SLEWS program, and were capturing footage of the group throughout the day. You may soon see Grant Union students on TV if you’re a fan of PBS!

It is always a pleasure to work with this fantastic group of students. I was once again impressed by their kindness to their peers and ceaseless positive attitudes. Can’t wait for Field Day #3!

Sunsweet – The World’s Largest Dried Fruit Plant

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: December 13th 2018

Location: Yuba City, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Sunsweet

Jamie Dickerson – Talent Acquisition Specialist
Amber Fuentes – HR Administrator
Tracy Atondo – Membership & Dryer Services Coordinator
Nathan Martson – Field Representative & Marysville Dryer Manager
Alma Parham – Administrative Assistant & Receptionist

Theme: Food Production and Consumer Science

Summary of the Day:
Our field day at Sunsweet began with an introduction by Jamie Dickerson. She talked about the background and history of Sunsweet. Sunsweet operates the largest dried fruit plant in the world. Jamie also discussed with the students the different types of jobs and careers Sunsweet has to offer. Next Jamie introduced Tracy Atondo to the students. Tracy continued Jamie’s presentation and discussed Sunsweet in more depth and talked about how Sunsweet has become the success it is today and how they work with the farmers who grow the products they sell. After their presentation; Jamie, Tracy, and Amber passed out some Sunsweet merchandise to all the students. We then headed over to the Sunsweet Dryer in Marysville where we me Nathan Martson. He chatted with the students about the dryer side of the Sunsweet operation. Nathan then gave us a tour of the facility which he manages.