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. 

Leadership at Cargill

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley Central | Friday, March 6, 2020

Location of Field Day: Cargill, 3115 S Fig Ave, Fresno, CA 93706

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: 
Pedro Lopez-Ramos, Human Resources
Jahnessa Anderson Lopez, Operations Supervisor
Katrina Robertson, General Manager
Christopher Vazquez, Cattle Buyer

Theme:  Labor in Animal Agriculture

Upon our arrival at Cargill, we met with Pedro Lopez-Ramos in human resources and Jahnessa Anderson Lopez.  They talked about how their education led them to the position they work for at Cargill now.  

We were then joined by Katrina Robertson, General Manager of the Fresno plant and she talked to us about how she came up with the company. Her original major was not in Agriculture.  She talked about how she grew with the company and became the general manager.  The three of them talked about how to be an asset for where your work is being flexible and willing to be a team player.  Following her talk, we took some much-needed pictures for a great day and thank her for joining us.  Following the talk, Pedro showed us a PowerPoint about the company.  He also showed us a video of the plant and what the line looks like when they break down carcasses.  Finally, during lunch, we had some other conversations and Pedro and Jahnessa were very gracious in letting us ask many questions that were left over from the video and PowerPoint.  

We left with some great Cargill swag and many memories.

Student Alondra Ortiz from Kerman High School said, “Cargill helped us see the reality of what is portrayed by non-Ag groups and the meatpacking industry. How the meat is processed and how it is being expanded to more than just meat but by using plant-based supplements.”

Merging Businesses

Gar Bennett – Labor in the Agriculture Industry

FARMS Advanced Leadership Program | Central Valley | Friday, February 21, 2020

Location of Field Day:
Gar Bennett 8246 Crawford Ave, Reedley, CA 93654

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Ralph Rendon, Chief Personnel Officer of Gar Bennett

Summary of the Day:

Before students even set foot onto the GAR Bennett Property in Reedley 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 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.

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. Rendon. He talked about his job as it relates to GAR and about the Business Merging with Bennett Irrigation. He went on to say they now are a one-stop-shop for the farmers they work with and it has expanded to the irrigation side of things. Congratulations GAR Bennett and Thank You for being such a great supporter of the FARMS Leadership Program.

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