Flowers, Shrubs & Veggies, Oh My!

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Central Valley North

Tuesday, February 27, 2019

Belmont Nursery, Fresno CA

Jon Reelhorn & Danielle Handler

The students started the day in the retail location with Leadership introduction activities.  Following the Leadership activities, we toured the propagation sight where we took a small tour, learn about heating beds and the way they manipulate the plants to grow.  Students tried their hand at running the planting machine by planting and labeling some said: “it’s not as easy as it looks”. Next, at the Henderson location students were able to work at a different planting machine and learned to graft on a piece of scion wood.  After lunch at the first retail location, students walked around to see what was available for retail purchase. Students asked a lot of great questions. Then the students worked on inventorying the retail location. Students had to count and recount all of the plants that they had for sale.  Danielle explained that staff members keep count every week on what has been sold and what needs to be reordered. Students said it was a tedious job but appreciated so many different types of plants.

What’s the Buzz About?

FARMS Advanced | Kern County | February 27, 2019

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

We had been waiting all year for this! It was Apiology day! The almond trees were in bloom and it was time to hear and experience the honeybee industry. Jimmy Gardner of United Honeybees allowed us to come and experience the world of bees with him.

We started with conversations about the lifecycle of the bee and the honey bee business. Bees have a community and they are like any other animal. They need to be fed, watered and cared for. We studied the facts of the honeybee.

Here are some facts that shocked students:

  • Bees are the only insect in the world that makes food that humans eat.
  • Honeybees pollinate $15 billion of crops every year
  • Honey has natural preservatives so bacteria can’t grow in it
  • 85% of plants exist because of bees
  • 1/3 of all the food we eat depends on pollinators
  • More than 100 types of crops are pollinated by bees in the US – including clover and alfalfa that feed our cows
  • Beekeeping has a migration route throughout the US. Their timing is critical and weather dependent.

After we discussed the facts of bees and the benefits of honey, we went out to experience them first hand!

We walked and did exactly what Jimmy Gardner does on the daily. The feeling of the wind produced from the bees wings as they land on your hood is a feeling that you can’t explain. Your first reaction is to swat them, but then you remember that you are safe in the suit. You see and hear them working hard to care for their queen. We were able to label the drone bees versus the worker bees. Then we found her! We found the Queen!

It was a great day! Thank you for hosting us, Redhouse Beef. Thank you for teaching us, United Honeybees!

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.

Hartnell College – Alisal Campus

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | January 24, 2019

Participating Schools:

  • Gonzales High School
  • North Salinas High School
  • Soledad High School
  • Watsonville High School

Location:

Hartnell College Alisal Campus

1752 E. Alisal Street, Salinas, CA 93905

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Anely Meneses – Field Day Planning Support
  • Melissa Casillas, Director of Career Training
  • Belen Gonzales – Coordinator of job and internship placement
  • Dr. Emily Rustad – Plant Science Instructor
  • Michael Davis – Welding Instructor
  • Fabiola & Sam – MakerSpace

Summary of the Day:

We arrived at the beautiful Alisal Campus promptly at 9 am. Students began the day by talking about their plans after high school and where they see themselves in 1 year and in 5 years.

“[I would like to] go to a 2-year college then transfer. [I want to] play basketball and  have a good job. Or I will go straight into a 4-year college”- Janet Arias, WHS

“ In one year I hope to be redeeming a scholarship to a four year college.” – Randy Huynh, NSH

“ I will attend Hartnelll College. I see myself with my degree and working my career.” – Vicky Aceves, GHS

Continue reading Hartnell College – Alisal Campus

A change of scenery for Davis High

Davis High School at Dry Arroyo Creek
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 11, 2019

Participating School
Davis High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District

Mentors
Amanda Lindell, UC Davis graduate student
Arthur Barros, UC Davis graduate student
Bob Ream, retired
Claire Kouba, UC Davis graduate student
Elaine Swiedler, California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning

Summary of the Day
Our second Field Day with Davis High School brought us to a new location – Dry Arroyo Creek between Dixon and Winters. There have been several SLEWS projects in this area over the years, and Solano Resource Conservation District invited Davis High students to put some of the final touches on a restoration project many years in the making.

After breakfast, we learned more about one another through a game called “Wind in the Willows”. This game allows us to identify commonalities within the group, and strengthen our bond as a SLEWS team. Then, Solano Resource Conservation District staff led us in a demonstration of our restoration task for the day – plug planting native grasses! Students learned to use a “dibble” to poke holes in the ground, insert a grass “plug” (a small clump of native grasses) and pinch the soil over the top to prevent moisture loss. The hope is that these native grasses will outcompete invasive grass species, to improve soil stability and water retention and increase biodiversity.

Once students got a hang of the process, mentor groups spread out along the bank of dry arroyo creek and began planting grass plugs every 2 feet in a grid-like pattern. These grasses will eventually grow to fill in the entire area. I had one student ask me to further explain the impact these grasses will have in the area, and I appreciated her wanting to put the project into context! There were some very impressive feats of teamwork with some students measuring, some students “dibbling”, and students following to plant the grass plugs. By lunchtime, students had planted around 2000 native grass plugs!

Students had been eager to explore Dry Arroyo Creek all morning. Lucky for them, after lunch, Sarah McKibbin of Solano Resource Conservation District led the students across the creek on a native plant walk to see some of the plants that have become established through the restoration effort. Then students were given time to explore the creek and adjacent areas in mentor groups, identifying native plants and birds. One group even found a frog in the creek! As groups were exploring, Davis High teacher Sherri Sandberg rotated mentor groups through a water monitoring activity to assess the water quality of Dry Arroyo Creek.

UC Davis, Tulare

Program: FARMS Leadership

Region: Central Valley South

Field Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Location of Field Day:  UC Davis Veterinary Medicine California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System Center, Tulare CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Dr. John Adaska, Dr. Terry Lehenbauer, Kathy Glenn, Karen Tonook, and Ms. Gregory

Theme:  Vet Science

Summary of the Day:

On November 6, 2018, the South Valley FARMS Leadership Students of Hanford High School, Lindsay High School, El Diamante High School, and Mt. Whitney High School visited UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Tulare Campus. Upon arrival, students enjoyed a breakfast snack and were assigned to introduce our speakers for the day.  Students participated in a teamwork activity cup stacking game. Following our teamwork activity, we started our day. Our hosts were very impressed with how the students were very professional in introducing and thanking all of the days speakers. In the first session students were exposed to a Necropsy Video. Dr. John Adaska introduced the video and explained frame by frame the reasons and needs to do a necropsy on an animal.  In our second session, Dr. Terry Lehenbauer introduced the college to the students. He went over college requirements and the admission process. He also explained Academic Preparation & Pre-Veterinary Required Courses for being accepted into Vet School. In session 3, students were split into two groups and rotated through the topics of Milk Quality Testing and a PCR Testing. CAHFS operates as the State of California’s central reference laboratory for measuring dairy products for their wholesomeness and nutrient makeup. This quality assurance program ensures dairy products are compliant with regulations, protecting both the consumer and the producer. Real-time PCR is a second generation PCR platform with significantly improved testing characteristics. Introduced in 1996, it has revolutionized and replaced conventional PCR approaches to quantify DNA and RNA. Today, RT-PCR is the gold standard for quantitative PCR and is rapidly becoming accepted as the method of choice for PCR diagnostics.  After enjoying lunch, Ms. Gregory from Lindsay High School presented to the students about injections. Students were able to practice subcutaneous and intramuscular injections in a piece of citrus with a different gauge needles and water with food coloring. The students really enjoys this hands on activity as they could really use this in real life situations.  FARMS is so excited to have UC Davis Veterinary Medicine California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System Center in Tulare as a partner educating students about Veterinary Medicine.

Davis Senior High School at Gilmer Farm

Participating School
Davis Senior High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District

Mentors
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.

Accomplishments
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.”