Organic Since ’88

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | Thursday, April 29, 2021

Location(s) of Field Day:
Durst Organic Growers — Hungry Hollow, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentor(s):
Jim Durst — CEO, Farm Director

Summary of the Day:
This Sacramento Valley FARMS Field Day and Leadership Lesson features a presentation from fourth-generation Yolo County farmer Jim Durst. Though the Durst family’s legacy is the production of large-scale commodity crops, since 1988, Jim is the first in his family to focus the farm on cultivating organic produce. Operating out of Hungry Hollow, just north of California’s Capital, Durst Organic Growers champions the importance of sustainability and eco-conscious practices in every aspect of their operations. The Leadership Lesson included FARMS students’ presentations regarding their 16personalities and CareerOneStop survey’s results. The Hands-On Learning Kit for this Field Day included Durst Organic Growers’ asparagus and a few additional supplies for a home-cooking and picture contest.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus and Fettuccine Alfredo by Deveion Hopkins
Cheesy Bacon Asparagus and sides by DeAngelo Green

Bayer: Local Careers, Global Opportunities

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley x San Joaquin | Friday, April 23, 2021

Location(s) of Field Day:
Bayer Woodland — Woodland, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentor(s):
Lisa McDaniel — Head of Global Outreach & Engagement, Vegetables R&D
Dr. Chow-Ming Lee — Consumer Sensory Lead Scientist
Kyla Johnson — Green House Manager, Specialty Crops
Paola Pomeroy — Production Research Associate
Pam Dickerson — Outreach Coordinator
Ruby Asoro — Video Editor

Summary of the Day:
The Sacramento Valley x San Joaquin Field Day and Leadership Lesson with Bayer Woodland began with introductions and a brief summary of the e-tinerary with the Head of Global Outreach & Engagement, Lisa McDaniel. Following the virtual tour of bringing new seed varieties to market and Tomato-traits Bingo with Dr. Yummy, the Career Panel Q&A features a variety of the contributing ‘research to market’ Bayer professionals. Though no longer directly in the ‘research to market’ process, our primary host, Lisa gives our FARMS students a bit about her background and personal journey. As Lisa is now well-established in her career, as a high school student and Cal Berkeley graduate, Lisa’s path was not always so clear. In fact, her extensive history with Bayer didn’t actually begin within Bayer at all; starting with a small Woodland-based seed company, Lisa worked her way up from Administrative Assistant to a position in Communications. And after multiple mergers, Lisa found more opportunities to learn and advance her career through Finance, Operations and Site Management, and ultimately, found her greatest calling in Outreach and Engagement. This well-rounded diversity of professional experience highlights the importance of how expansive immersion leads to unforeseen opportunities and even roles in leadership. This is true for the sum of the Bayer Career Panel professionals and proves that all experience is good experience. Hand-On Learning Kits for the Bayer Field Day include a tomato flavor and texture wheel, first-aid kit, cold-reactive Bayer cups, Bayer mints, and Bayer tomato starts (perfect for harvesting before a July 4th BBQ)!

A hybrid SLEWS Field Day

Woodland High School at the Maples
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | April 22, 2021

Summary of the Day
For weeks now, I have been working with Woodland High School teacher Jerry Delsol to plan a virtual SLEWS field day of sorts for his students. We previously coordinated for him to attend one of our volunteer habitat restoration SLEWS Field Days in December (read more here), which he broadcast live to his students back in the classroom. Students were able to interact with our adult volunteers, see the site, and even ask questions of their own! 

We planned to do something similar at our headquarters at the Maples in Woodland, focusing more on the restoration and wildlife monitoring plans being implemented onsite. Some of his students were even part of the class that participated in our first year of SLEWS at the Maples (blog posts here and here!), so they’d be able to see how much the native habitat they planted has grown! When I met with Mr. Delsol the week prior to the field trip, I was thrilled to hear that he’d be able to bring a small group of students to the field day to participate in-person, while still broadcasting live to students attending school from home.

Students arrived bright and early on Thursday morning, meeting us at the “bioswale” their class created last SLEWS season. This SLEWS project included transforming a stormwater retention basin into viable habitat. I introduced the project to the class, and showed the next phase of the project (an adjacent hedgerow), which volunteers planted this past winter. Then we moved to the side of the bioswale to a wildlife monitoring camera set up by Center for Land-Based Learning’s Ecologist Jeanne Wirka. Jeanne introduced herself and her work at the Maples, where she is currently gathering baseline data on the wildlife and pollinators present. She’s already begun getting snapshots of wildlife from the motion-activated camera facing the hedgerow – including a coyote whose scat one student spotted! 

After meeting Jeanne, students split into three groups to rotate between different activities.

I led students in a native plant identification workshop and shared about how scientists press plants to create herbariums, preserved collections of plants in an area. Students then collected clippings of plants in the hedgerow to create plant pressings of their very own. Some of the species identified included California poppies, lupines, common fiddleneck, and yarrow.

Jeanne taught students about cavity nesting birds (and why it is difficult for them to find nesting habitat) before showing each group how to install a bluebird nest box on the Maples campus. They looked at nest boxes installed a few weeks ago by Yolo County Audubon, and even found an egg in one of them!

Mr. Delsol led a soil sampling activity in the nearby ag fields, looking at soil types and sampling the compost as well.

Meanwhile, Mr. Delsol’s student teacher engaged with students attending the livestream by asking them questions and leading them through the activities so they were active participants. Though this was a very quick field day (we only had 1 hour!) it was amazing to finally engage with students in-person.