Mechanized Ag with JG Boswell

FARMS Program | Kern County | May 6, 2019

Participating Schools
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School

Our last field day was spent touring JG Boswell’s Kern Operation. We were greeted by Joey Mendonca – Kern County Ranch Manager and Charlie Riddle – Kern Lake District Manager.

Students witnessed the tomato transplanting process. The transplanter’s speed is set and a person refills the transplanter with the small tomato plants. Students commented on the efficiency of the process. The settings are precise for the depth of the soil and measured spacing between plants.

Transplanting in Action

We discussed the irrigation methods and how drip tape is the most efficient use for these tomatoes. We walked to the field next store where the tomatoes were a bit older. You could smell the freshness of the tomato plants. We talked about varieties of tomatoes. The field we were standing in and learning about were Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are bred to have thicker skin for shipping. They are known as “canning tomatoes” but because of their great taste, they began marketing them as Roma tomatoes. We talked about harvesting as well and how critical the handling can be for tomatoes.

Characteristics of Roma Tomatoes

We walked over to the neighboring safflower field. Students were able to pick a sample and feel the prickly outer shell. Inside is the yellow flower that we eventually see blooming as we are driving. To battle pests, they use a sweep net attached to a vacuum. This vacuum pulls the pests off the plant and they are able to study and treat based upon their findings. It was a very creative and resourceful tool!

Studying Safflower

As with any farming operation, irrigation and water management is key. Boswell’s resourceful water management practices are critical given the regulations that are being placed on farming operations in California. We toured the pump area and taught us about the construction of the different pumps and the technology involved to manage it. Joey Mendonca and Max Bricker – Water Dept. Project Manager gave a historical and current view on Kern County water. JG Boswell has its own water department that helps them to understand and implement these complicated regulations.

Touring the Pump Station

We arrived at the shop where Assistant Shop Manager, Aaron Flores and his team BBQ’d an amazing spread for us. During lunch, Human Resources Coordinator, Christina Martinez talked to students and staff about application processes and the pitfalls associated with social media.

After lunch, it was time to tour the equipment! We were able to explore the heavy equipment including the astounding Cotton Harvester! Students were asked about the size and cost guestimates of some of the equipment. They were shocked at the expense! Students loved seeing all of the technology built into the tractors too. There is another piece of equipment that pumps the water from one canal into another. It is a huge piece of equipment that is amazingly run by only two workers!

Our last stop was to the onion fields. Slavo Pavlovic, an Agronomist at Boswell, taught the students about planting, irrigating and harvesting of onions. It was a very informative day networking with the staff at JG Boswell!

Wonderful Time At Halos


FARMS Program | Kern County |April 2, 2019

Participating Schools
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

Students had a great opportunity to see the Halo process from field to packing box. We started at the McFarland Halo Ranch learning about Safety, Ranch Management, and Pest Control. Then, we traveled to Delano to the packing facility and the iconic picture in front of the “Blue Box”.

We divided into two groups where students could have more interactions with the Wonderful Staff. Students were trained on the warning symbols used on signage and labels to communicate risk.

Signage for Risk – Give an example!

Then we were able to see and understand the process of the spray rig management in regards to safety and staff logistics with night spraying with Johnny Magana, Spray Manager, and Larry Minor, Shop Supervisor.

Next, we walked to their shop where learning to put things back where they belong isn’t just a chore at home, but a life skill. It is critical to keeping the workplace safe and it also helps the bottom line as inventory is always up to date. Manager of Technical Operations, James Lundgren, shared his career journey with the students. He is a wealth of knowledge and loves what he does!

Students were very interested in the number of careers and opportunities Wonderful provides for their employees. Truly is a Wonderful place to work! The employees there love their jobs and have great pride in the company. This is evident as they talk and students could see their passion for coming to work each day.

We then switched places with the other group. We had Jesse Castanon – Farming Manager and James Lundergan – Pest Control Advisor on board. They shared their heart for the company which was equally magnetic. We stopped the bus and unloaded to the beautiful aroma of citrus blossoms. In the citrus orchard, students learned about the purpose of netting the trees to affect seedless citrus. They also were led to look at clues, clues that would tell you what type of pest us attempting to take up residence.

We all loaded back into the bus to gather as a group for lunch on our way to the “Big Blue Box”, the packing facility. This highly visible box can be seen from Hwy 99 and it is a coveted photo for most Ag students.

The Big Blue Box

Once we unloaded from the bus in Delano, we walked through their main offices to get to the packing plant. Even their offices smell like oranges! We were led on a fantastic tour of their 11 football field sized plant. It was huge! Photos are not allowed inside the plant however the sizing belts were breathtakingly large! This photo is from their website:

How do we get all the same size Halos?

The staff was welcoming and generous! The citrus was tasty and so interesting to learn about. The smell was amazing! It was a great day! Thank you, Wonderful Company, for a great day!

WindWolves and Conservancy

FARMS Program | Kern County | March 5, 2019

Participating Schools
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School

We arrived at WindWolves Preserve where we were greeted and introduced to a large amount of staff from the NRCS as well as the WindWolves Preserve Rangers. They shared their educational and career journeys with the students. Then, we split into 3 groups to rotate through the activities including Restoration Activity, Range Health/Plant ID Walk, and Riparian Ecology/Insect ID. Students loved all three stations!

As part of the Restoration Activity, students were planting trees. The staff gave an example of the depth of the whole needed as well as the most efficient way to get it done. The students watched intently and went straight to work! They worked so hard. Gabriel, a student from West High School, has a broken hand and was due to get his cast off that afternoon. He was so taken with the work that needed to be completed, he dug the hole with his casted hand! He did an amazing job with the Post Hole Digger considering he had a broken hand!

Gabriel Getting the Job Done

After our Restoration Activity, it was time to move stations, we took a walk with NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist, Alex Hepler. He walked us through the different types of grasses and vegetation found at WindWolves. He also shared how you can gauge the health of the rangeland by what is growing and flowering at any given time. We were given an identification guide and were tasked with labeling the different species of grasses seen. We found Bermuda Grass, Saltbush, and Filaree to name a few.

As we progressed to the next station it was time to move from identifying grasses to identifying stream invertebrates., students loved looking for these hidden treasures. Students had the opportunity to dig in the water and search for the different species. These different species are pollution sensitive gauging the health of the watershed.

Students were also given an opportunity to learn about the different species of bees. They were able to take nets and catch different insects out in the grasslands. Students loved each and every activity at this field day, but most of all connecting with the staff at WindWolves and the NRCS.

Agri-Tourism and Science

FARMS Program | Kern County | February 5, 2019

Participating Schools
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School
Ridgeview High School

Summary of the Day
There is no better place to study Agri-Tourism than at Murray Family Farms. Students have traveled here throughout their childhood to go to the maze, pick pumpkins in the fall or berries in the summer. This trip, they learned the other side of Murray Family Farms.

Steve Murray greeted us on this cold February day with a coffee in hand showing us around his pride and joy – Murray Family Farms. It was easily the most beautiful day we have had in Kern County. Steve shared his extensive journey and through perseverance and incredible opportunities he was able to land his dream.

Learning the History

We then walked through the many commodities grown on site. We learned about apples and stone fruit first. We talked about water and the effects on farming. We talked about grafting and the science behind the different types of grafting which allowed them to create unique fruit for consumers.

We then went up to the small hill for the students to jump. When you are at Murray Family Farms, you must take a jump on their massive bouncing bubble! While some may ask, “What does this have to do with Ag?” It has a lot to do with Agri-Tourism. Families come to make a memory through picking their own fruit and every now and then you have to get your wiggles out.

Now back to learning! We have a first-hand look at grafting from Steve’s son, Steven. Steven shared his journey and his many accomplishments including speaking 7 different languages! He shared how this diversity helped him. He showed us the different ways to graft and discussed the pros and cons of each as well.

Heading out to our picnic lunch we had to taste the fruits which is a favorite past time. The Pomelo’s tested like fresh lime-aid! We loaded up for our trek to Steve’s favorite spot on the farm.

We had a great lunch while learning about the history of the American Indian tribes who lived right where we sat. The unique history and the learning that took place all while taking in the breathtaking views from this spot. It was a beautiful way to experience Ag.

Holy Cow! A Mooovement Toward Sustainability

FARMS Leadership | Kern County | November 13, 2018

Lakeview Farms
17702 Bear Mountain Blvd, Bakersfield, CA 93311

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
B.J. Schoneveld, Owner Lakeview Farms
Roy Dowd, Director – CalBio Energy Facility O&M, & Digester Research
Jamie Jarrett Ph.D., Dairy Nutritionist – Alpha Dairy Consulting

Theme:
Science in Agriculture

Summary of the Day:
Students from Frontier High School, West High School, Independence High School, Ridgeview High School, and Bakersfield Christian High School gathered for breakfast at the Kern County Ag Pavilion, after we loaded the bus to head out to Lakeview Dairy. When we arrived, we hit the ground running with an overview of the 9,500 head dairy farm and a tour of the milk house. Owner, B.J. Schoneveld, shared the technology used using the EID Ear Tag Reader. Students were able to see reports generated from the field with the EID Tag Reader and learn about the importance of tracking health and genetics. Students then walked to the barns where cows were served their morning feed. They were shocked with how many things they recognized in the feed – carrots, cotton, and almond hulls. They smelled the sourness of the feed. We noticed the temperature of the barn. Mr Schoneveld has tried a new approach with the cows in climate control. He has placed share cloth and fans strategically in the barn to not only keep the cows cool, but to keep their food cooler as well. This has made a huge difference in their production and feed intake. Cows like eating cooler feed. Happy cows make happy milk. We then went into the newborn calf pen where students were able to touch and take photos with the newly born calves. These calves are shipped to Hanford where they will be fed and cared for until they are old enough to return to the dairy for milk production. After touring the barns, we met Roy Dowd who introduced us to the manure digester.

Lakeview’s partnership with California Bioenergy is a cutting edge approach to sustainability. Not only does it process the manure, allowing the farm to recycle the solid matter for bedding, but it also allows them to use the liquid to create energy through bacteria and gas production. The water that is cycled through then is used to clean parts of the dairy. This approach will allow them to partner with other diaries creating a cohort of dairies who will be working with PG&E on the energy output, thus getting paid for the energy they create. We discussed the many careers in this up and coming field. Mr. Dowd was born and raised in went to college in Bakersfield. Learning about how he achieved his goals was a learning for the students. What’s more appetizing that discussing manure? We were served a fantastic lunch provided by Lakeview Farms. During lunch we met Nutritionist, Jamie Jarrett.

She shared her career journey with the students and the colleges she attended. She was an alumni of one of our participating high schools which was a connection point for students. She then took us to the feed area. Here there were mountains of ingredients/commodities used in the cow feed. She brought out 4 buckets of different mixed feed and discussed the fat content and nutritional value of each mix. She had students pick up a handful and share what they saw and asked why they thought they might feed that item. Items included carrots that they get from neighboring farms as well as almond hulls. Students have eaten carrots but almond hulls a new idea for them. Students know about almonds, but not in their natural state – coming from a shell and hull. We talked about the sustainability this offers – where nothing is wasted. Students came away with an understanding of the care and efforts made to get milk into our homes. They learned about the science used to make a smaller footprint on the earth. They also learned about the sustainability efforts being made by other farmers, like the almond farmer, to be sure that nothing is wasted.

Students learn about the parts of the milk house and the tests run to keep our food safe.

Cooling the Barn and the Affects on the Cows.

What Do I Want to Be? How Do I Get There?

FARMS Leadership | Kern County | October 16, 2018

Bakersfield College
1801 Panorama Dr, Bakersfield, CA 93305

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Kern County Farm Bureau
Bakersfield College Staff
Heather Baltis

Theme:
Career and Career Path Exploration

Summary of the Day:
Often times, students have an opinion about attending Junior Colleges. There is sadly a stigma that we as educators fight on a regular basis about attending anything other than a 4-year college path. Today, I fought to blast this stigma with our visit to the nationally known Bakersfield College Ag Department.

Students from Frontier High School, Independence High School, Ridgeview High School, Bakersfield Christian High School, and West High School were amazed at the professionalism and opportunities available to them at Bakersfield College.

This day was not your average College Visit. Bakersfield College partners with industry to bring professionals who are making a living with these degrees. This tangible approach allows for students to ask questions, network with local industry, and really imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes. Industry professionals share their journey giving insight into how they got to their current position.

Bakersfield College provided lunch and a time for students to meet with different colleges and possible employers. Our students passed out business cards to those employers where they were interested in connecting on a deeper level.

It was a great day! Thank you, Bakersfield College!

Alyssa Jones, FARMS Leadership student, shares her experience with the Vet Technician Program

Kern County Students Take On Viticulture

FARMS Leadership | Kern County | October 2, 2018

Location of Field Day:
Kimberlina Facility | Bakersfield, CA 93308

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Fernando Garcia – Director of Northern Operations
Josh Legorreta – Shipping Manager
Cecilia Rivera – In-House Packing Director
David Fenn – Executive Vice President of Farming
Michael Strambi – Wasco Farming Director
Terry Bacon – Vice President of Variety Development
Monica Escoto – Director of Quality Assurance and Food Safety
Danielle Loustalot – Marketing Manager
Tammy Collum – Sales Executive

Theme: Food Production |Consumer Science

Summary of the Day:
A grape story behind our favorite snack! Students from 5 different high schools: Bakersfield Christian, Independence High, Frontier High, Ridgeview High, and West High Schools kicked off our 2018-19 Kern County FARMS Leadership year by coming together and learning about grapes along side of a few of Sun-World’s finest employees!

Students learned about the demands of the grape industry. They saw how consumerism has changed the way in which Sun World packs its grapes – bringing it indoors. One student commented, “they are so careful to be sure that the weight of each bag is just right that they even will take out one grape!” Students noted the care and time it takes to pack one bag of grapes. Students inquired about the career opportunities and the different levels of expertise at each packing station. Students then were driven to the fields where the contrast in outdoor packing was shown. Sun-World has customers that require different packing practices. Students experienced the change in work environment for the employee and the humidity from inside the rows. They strolled in awe and were able to taste from each side of the vine sharing what they tasted, smelled, and heard. David Fenn, Executive Vice President of Farming, shared the science behind reasons a grape may taste one way on one side of the vine from the other as students noticed that one batch was less sweet. It was time now for students to learn about the different varieties of grapes.

We then moved on to the Research and Development Lab. Students participated in an activity to get to know each other and separate into groups. These three groups were on a 20 minute rotation – Research & Development, Sales & Marketing, and Quality Control.

Research and Development described the step by step breeding process and allowed students to tour and see it in action. The lab with over a thousand test tubes of possible new flavors was overwhelming. Students identified the embryo in the berry prior to the breeding process. Time to rotate! Next Up, Sales and Marketing.

Students were able to network with Sales and Marketing professionals and learn about their favorite aspects of the job. Travel is a big plus for some! Students asked about career paths and opportunities. Oh, time to rotate on to Quality Control. Students taught how to read the import requirements from different companies and measure sugar levels based upon cold storage availability. Students worked as a team to gather data and report back to staff about their findings.

We wrapped up with an inspiring message given by Sun World’s CEO/President Merrill Dibble while eating lunch together with the Sun World staff before heading home. Students were able to take some grapes home to their families as well.

Kern County FARMS Leadership Class of 2018-19 Touring Sun World International
Kern County FARMS Leadership Class of 2018-19 Touring Sun World International

Kern FARMS Leadership Student learning to use a Refractometer
Kern FARMS Leadership Student learning to use a Refractometer