(MADERA, CA) On Wednesday, September 26th, Students from the Central Valley North FARMS Leadership Program stepped out of the classroom to learn about the steps to harvesting almonds at Creekside Farming Company Inc. and learning about The Almond Company’s business. Meeting for the first time were 30 sophomore and juniors students from Clovis East High School, Kerman High School, Liberty High School, and Madera South High Schools.
FARMS stands for Farming, Agriculture and Resource Management for Sustainability, which is a premier Leadership Program run by the Center for Land-Based Learning. This statewide youth program connects high school students to California’s food system and teaches them leadership skills through a year of field days on farms, ranches and agribusinesses. They get to explore college and career opportunities in agriculture, food and environmental science while helping them develop critical thinking skills through hands-on experiences. “It is so important for students to learn about the agriculture that surrounds them.”, said Katie Wortman, the FARMS Leadership Coordinator for the Central Valley.
The Madera County Farm Bureau provided the meeting space for the Leadership portion of the Field Day. The day started out with the designation of leadership teams and students practicing the proper handshake. Students got to know each other by interviewing each other and introduced each other as a preparation for introducing our individual speakers. Each predetermined student interviewed each speaker of the day and introduced them to the group as a whole. Next, the group traveled to The Almond Company and were welcomed by Anthony Sagariballa, Director of Plant Operations and Jerry Magdaleno, Grower Relations.
Our students were treated to a company presentation, almond tasting, facility tour, and lunch. Finally, we ended our day with Creekside Farming. Jay Mahil, Owner and Eli Gallegos, Ranch Manager met us for an in-depth tour of harvesting Almonds. Students were able to watch how Almond trees are harvested including the shaking, sweeping and picking up of Almonds. Almonds were then transferred to the truck and delivered to the processor. Our FARMS students did an excellent job asking questions and being engaged in the day.
Summary of the Day:
Have you ever wanted to know what goes on on a college student farm? The Tehama County FARMS Leadership had the experience of a lifetime when they attended a field day on May 10, 2018 at the Shasta College Farm in Redding, CA.
The day started with an enjoyable breakfast in their lush arboretum and listening to current students who live in housing on the college farm tell about the opportunity to work on the farm to pay for their room and board, which can be a large cost. Shasta College is one of the few junior college campuses’ that has dorm living available to some students. Once everyone’s bellies were full it was time to get down and dirty by going to the horticulture department. Students were able to get some soil under their nails by planting a couple seeds in one pot and taking clippings from a mature plant, dipping it in a growth hormone to stimulate root development and plant it in a second pot. All the students love being able to do something that they get to take home at the end of the day! They also were able to learn a little about beneficial vs. harmful bugs and see first hand what a baby ladybug looks like.
After we played in the dirt a little, we went on a short tour of the Shasta College Farm which included herding goats to a new pen and seeing week old baby pigs. We ended the tour by joining a Shasta College Feeds and Nutrition Lab where we helped process 54 meat chickens that were going to the public’s dinner tables in the next couple days. It took a few minutes for the students to warm up to the idea of being hands on, but soon every student had gotten their hands wet or dirty helping. They learned the importance of food safety, bio-security, and what had gone into growing these chickens during the Feeds and Nutrition’s research projects. During lunch Sonia Randhawa from the counseling department came to talk about admissions and financial aid. It was an important part of the day and very informative for the students to learn that they can take college classes for free while in high school and there are lots of programs to help get your tuition paid for. Lastly, we ended the day out in the hay field with BJ Macfarlane the Farm Manager learning all about the science and technology that goes into growing and bailing hay. As a bonus each student had the chance to drive a skid steer if they wanted! Shasta College sure was a fun filled hands on day and I think a great way to wrap up our 17-18 year!
Solano Resource Conservation District
Nick Gallegar, NCRS Rangeland Management Specialist
Beth Hellman, UC Davis graduate student
Amanda Lindell, UCD graduate student
Laura McGowan, UCD graduate student
Ha Truong, NRCS Agricultural Engineer
Our third and final field day at Gilmer farm was a huge success both for our students and our hedgerow. After arrival, our day started off with a fun game of group juggle to get everyone moving a bit and thinking about each other’s names. Once we were all familiar, we jumped right into our plant pressing activity! Students walked along Dave Gilmer’s already established hedgerow, collecting a number of different native species as well as some invasive. Upon returning to the barn, students wrote descriptions of there plants on the back of cards and get them and the plants into our plant presses. Once those are dry and mounted, students will have their own plant pressings to take home and remember SLEWS with.
After plant pressing, everyone headed out to our hedgerow to see how many of our plants survived, as well as weed around our native plants. Students were diligent to make sure they removed as many weeds as possible without damaging their plants.
Following lunch, students had a full afternoon filled with learning activities. We began the afternoon with mentor interviews, a amazing chance for students to get to know their mentors a bit more and ask them in depth questions about their chosen field and how they got to where they are today. With interviews wrapped up, students got to encounter some wildlife in the form of our current native mammal and birds nest collection. After an initial inspection, each mentor group was assigned two animals that they got to present on to the rest of the group. To wrap up the day, students did a blind taste test with different kinds of citrus, some from the store and the rest local. After comparing the different fruit, everyone did made their best guess at which fruit was which.
We would like to thank our SLEWS mentors for enhancing the students field experience, and our gracious hosts at Gilmer Farm for engaging youth from Davis High School in their habitat restoration work.
Weeding entirety of the hedgerow
“It was great to interview the mentors because it taught me it is okay to not know what I want to do for a career now, I can figure it out as my interests change.”