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!

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.

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.

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

IPM & Pro-Scan Survey

FARMS Advanced Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley

Field Date: Thursday, January 31, 2019

Location of Field Day: GAR Tootelian Inc

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Ralph Rendon, Karen Musson, Brent Parolini

Theme: IPM

Before students even set foot onto the GAR Property they completed a Pro-Scan Survey.  The ProScan Survey is an instrument designed by Professional DynaMetric Programs, Inc. (PDP) to measure the major aspects of self-perception, including an individual’s basic behavior, reaction to the environment, and predictable behavior.  GAR uses this survey on every employee that is hired so when they are hired they are aware of their behavior and if they would be a good fit for the company and other employees to work with.

Each student was able to go through their completed results with Ralph explaining each and every aspect of the survey.  The students were blown away by how it accurately predicted their behavior. Students also said it said similar things as the True Colors survey they took at Fresno State just a week earlier.

After all of the students studied their test results we broke for a quick Lunch break. After lunch we had a roundtable question and answer session with Mr. Parolini a Pest Control Advisor for GAR Tootelian.  He talked about his job as it relates to IPM the Advanced Topic of the year. Students ever went more in depth in answering questions about IPM and how it is related to Regulation, Sustainability, Footprint, Media, Water, Careers, Technology & Innovation, Labor and Politics.  This was a great field day and the students and myself learned a lot about ourselves and IPM.

Bulldogs and Agriculture

FARMS Program |
Kern and Central Valley Regions |January 25, 2019

Participating Schools
Kern County:
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

Central Valley:
Hanford High School
Kerman High School

Summary of the Day
Do you think Bulldogs know about Agriculture? The Fresno State Bulldogs are pros! Our Central Valley and Kern County FARMS Advanced students learned a lot about their character and about Integrated Pest Management as we toured the Fresno State Ag Department.

We started the day gathering in the Ag One Meeting Room. Introductions were made between students through an Ice Breaker activity. This helped the two regions come together, however many of the students knew each other already due to the connectivity through social media and the FFA world.

A Leadership Team was established in the group and they were given the task to interview and then introduce our hosts, Michelle Perez, and Rick Chacon. Fresno State offers a class in True Colors, a personality development tool aiding in team development. Students were amazed at the outcome and how it validated how they think and act. They also were led through an exercise in understanding the other personality traits and how to work with those traits. Students discussed how they might use this tool in the workplace or even in their social circles and families.

We broke for lunch and then made our way out to the farm to study the pistachio and almond trees. We talked about identifying the Naval Orange Worm and the devastating effects it can have on the industry. We talked about the practices used to protect against it as well.

Dr. Jacob Wenger taught about the Naval Orange Worm

We also discussed the shaking process in almonds and were able to witness the equipment used to shake the trees. Ranch Manager Rob gave us a tour of the campus’s working orchard where we discussed the importance of the care and maintenance in order to keep harvesting on track.

From the field, we went to the Jordan Lab. This state of the art lab has been a great addition to the campus and we were fortunate to get a behind the scenes tour. The lab allows for in-depth ag research. The professional nature of the lab is something the students noticed right away. One lab was dedicated to the study of the Naval Orange Worm. Dr. Wenger shared his knowledge and how they are considering working on a way to make the worm glow for earlier detection. They use the smallest of needles to inject the worms to change their DNA then breed this new gene We were able to study the different life cycles of the worms.

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!!

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