Unweaving the Thread: Learning About Cotton

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley Advanced | Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Location of Field Day:

USDA Cotton Classing Office – 7100 West Sunnyview Avenue, Visalia, CA 93291

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Greg Townsend – Area Director

Edward Sandoval – USDA Visalia Classing Office and Fresno State Alumni

Theme: Leadership, Cotton Classing

Summary of the Day: The Central Valley Advanced FARMS Leadership students enjoyed their field day at the USDA Classing Office learning about the cotton industry-cotton grade standards, cotton classification services, Pima and Upland cotton, and more. 

Greg Townsend, the Area Director of the USDA Visalia Classing Office, and Edward Sandoval each spoke about their backgrounds in agriculture, their day to day tasks, and how the classing office supports farmers and the agricultural industry.

In their tour, students received an overview on the Cotton Classification process. They saw, firsthand, how samples were conditioned, transferred to the instrument classification, and then classified by USDA classers. They also learned how the data is stored in the classing facility’s database and National Database.

Students then learned about the two types of grade standards: Universal Upland Grade Standards and American Pima Grade Standards. Edward showed students how cotton is graded based on color and leaf. They also learned about extraneous matter, which is any substance found in the cotton other than fiber or leaf, and how it affects the grading.

Students learning about the differences between American Pima cotton and Upland Cotton.
USDA’s classing methodology is based on both grade and instrument standards used with state-of-the-art methods and equipment.
A USDA classer identified extraneous matter, such as plastic and balloon fragments, present in the cotton.

Students also strengthened their leadership skills by practicing how to introduce and thank a host. Then, students learned the importance of setting goals to increase their chances of success. Students individually created a S.M.A.R.T Goal(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) concerning the FARMS Leadership Program. Their goals ranged from improving and developing leadership skills, such as public speaking on agricultural topics/issues or in general or identifying a future career pathway to learn more about. They shared their goals, raised their chances of success, and gained feedback from their peers. 

Overall, we had a fantastic day! They are excited and prepared for their next field day and gain hands-on experience learning about the agricultural industry, the wide variety of jobs and careers available, and developing their leadership skills. 

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