Feeding Animals in Agriculture

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley South

Field Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Location of Field Day: Western Milling Goshen CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Mark Krebsbach  | Chad Pinter | Eric Brandenburg | Buster Freeman  |

Theme: Grains and Milling

On Tuesday, February 19th the Central Valley South FARMS Leadership Program consisting of El Diamante High School, Lindsay High School and Mt. Whitney High School met at Western Milling in Goshen CA.  Students were treated to breakfast burritos upon our arrival. The leadership team was determined and they were in charge of introducing our hosts for the day. We were welcomed by Mr. Chad Pinter, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Western Milling along with his welcome Mr. Pinter presented the company overview.  Next, the students were split into two groups and rotated through a Mill Tour with Buster Freeman and a Retail Tour with Todd Willeke. After our Mill and Retail Tours, we met back in the conference room with Mark Krebsbach, Ag Leadership Foundation Class 48. During lunch, the students sat with individuals from different departments at Western Milling.  We were joined by Reina Carbajal, Human Resources; Rene Urquia, Environmental Health and Safety Director; Rebecca Norred, Office Manager; Stan Dillon, Maintenance; Joel Karlin, Economist. They talked about and asked questions of how they got into agriculture, their college choices and what they did during their workday at Western Milling. Then a student from each group introduced their guest to the whole group and they told the entire group what they did at Western Milling and how it’s different from where they thought they would be.  Finally, Mark Krebsbach led a “Who am I” workshop asking the students to tell the group about who they are. Students did share what they wanted about themselves with the group. It was a great time for the students to be vulnerable. They really opened up to the group about themselves and did a great job. We appreciate what Mark and his colleagues at Western Milling do for our group. As always it is a great day we spend at Western Milling.

Access to the Best Walnuts in the World!

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: February 14th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Linden, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Jennifer Williams – Marketing Director for California Walnuts
  • Joseph Stacher – Production Manager for Prima Frutta
  • Katie Arce – Walnut Quality Control for Prima Noce

Theme: Walnuts and Ag Technology

Summary of the Day:

For our fifth field day of the 2018-2019 year we headed to Prima Noce in Linden California to learn about Walnut production and processing and the technology used in this booming industry. With the anticipation of upcoming rain showers we began our field day inside the break room of the apple processing building at Prima Frutta (the fruit processing division of the Prima company).  Once we finished our ice breakers and the students all finished their breakfast Jennifer Williams, the Marketing Director for California Walnuts introduced her self and joined us for the day at Prima Noce. Since there was a break in the rain in the morning we then headed outside for a tour of the orchards and processing facilities lead by Joseph Stacher the Production Manager for Prima Frutta.

While out in the orchards the students were able to see different varieties of walnut trees. We were also able to learn about the different stages of production between the various orchards and also the different styles of growing walnut trees including the grafting process. Joseph gave us a great over view of how things are managed at Prima Noce and the history of the company and then Jennifer gave her insight on how they compared to the walnut industry as a whole.

After leaving the orchard we toured the walnut processing facilities. The students put on hair nets and washed up at the high tech washing stations and then we were able to see all stages of Prima Noce’s production line. We saw everything from in shell walnuts, chopped walnuts, sliced walnuts to the packaging of walnuts. After finishing the tour of the walnut processing facilities we then tour the cherry processing facility which is gearing up to begin again in April and the apple processing facilities which is just wrapping up their season. We finished our tours just as the rain began to pick up and we headed back into the break room where we began our day.

The students took a break for lunch and then Joseph introduced Katie Arce, the woman in charge of Walnut Quality Control for Prima Noce. They taught the students how quality control works in the walnut industry and then the students were split into groups and able to work on sorting 100 walnuts in trays based on quality.

IPM, Citrus and Professional Development

Program: FARMS Advanced Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley

Field Date:  Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Location of Field Day: Bee Sweet Citrus

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Monique Bienvenue

Theme: IPM, Citrus and Employment

Students from the FARMS Advanced Leadership Program spent the day at Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler CA with Monique Bienvenue.  Upon arrival we were whisked away to the field for a field presentation with one of their Pest Control Advisors. He talked with the students about IPM and Citrus.  Following the field presentation we drove back to the packing facility and walked through the facility. After a short lunch, Monique shared with the students tips about Resumes, Interviews and Social Media.  The students took a lot away from their day with Monique. It’s good for students to learn about these things from the industry professionals.

Bee Sweet Citrus

Sierra Cascade Logging Expo

FARMS Advanced | Tehama County | February 7, 2019

Location of Field Day
Anderson, CA

Participating High Schools
Red Bluff High School
Los Molinos High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School

Field Day Host
Sierra Cascade Logging Conference, Sierra Pacific Industries

Summary of the Day:

Tehama County FARMS Advanced was invited by Sierra Pacific Industries to visit the Sierra Cascade Logging Expo in Anderson, Ca and learn all about the diversity in the logging industry. Living in Tehama County, we daily see logging trucks traveling down the road and these FARMS Advanced students also visited Sierra Pacific Industries during their year in FARMS Leadership which is one of the largest logging companies in Northern California. However, students don’t always think of logging as part of agriculture, so this opportunity was very fitting and gave the students an up close look at the equipment, and companies that are involved in the daily operations of this very demanding and regulated industry.

Walking into the largest forest products and construction equipment exposition in the west was very impressive and the students were greeted by Tommy 2×4 the mascot as well as some HUGE equipment. Throughout the day we explored all the different types of equipment that are used in the logging industry such as skidders, log loaders, and feller bunchers and were able to network with different operators as well as reps for the companies that manufacture the equipment.

“I was impressed at how expensive the equipment is and the amount of advanced technology they use for every job.” -Mary Pat Peterson, Mercy High School

Of course, at expo’s it’s not all business…the students also went through stations that included other aspects of the industry including a wildlife presentation, learning about sustainability of forests, how Cal Fire is involved and wildfire prevention, college students who were competing in different ax throwing contests, as well as watching a wood carver.

“It was very interesting being able to look inside the cockpit of the CalFire helicopter as well as being able to climb in where the firefighters would sit!” -Stephanie Mills, Red Bluff High School

Strawberries, Drones, Fumigation & the Ag Commissioner

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | February 7, 2019

Participating Schools:

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

Location:

Ag Commissioner’s Office, 1428 Abbott St. Salinas, ca

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Barbara LaVake – TiCal Field Day planner and support.
  • Dennis Lane – TriCal
  • Abbie Asche – TriCal
  • Carolyn O’Donnell –  California Strawberry Commission
  • Henry Gonzales – Monterey County Ag Commissioner
  • Kevin Hill – ParaBug
  • Chandler Bennett – ParaBug

Summary of the Day:

Pests and disease are agricultures biggest adversary. Producers of all kind are always battling or protecting crops from bugs and killer diseases. FARMS Leadership Students met with Carolyn O’Donnell to learn how the Strawberry commission plays a key role in promoting strawberry consumption and sharing the amazing benefits of eating strawberries as a part of a healthy diet.

“Today I learned that 88% of straberries are grown in California.” – Annabel Uribe

First up, TriCal Inc. a family owned business that provides soil fumigation services to sterilize the soil before strawberry plants are placed in their beds. Students learned about TriCal and their commitment to their employee’s safety and well being by paying applicators a living wage with benefits and full-time year-round work. Students spoke with employees and learned about the different jobs TriCal offers. We were able to see the applicator machines and personal safety gear. Abbie Asche talked about her job as a Pest Control Advisor (PCA) with TriCal. Abbie explained the leading diseases that need soil fumigation, like nematodes, bacteria, fungi, and insects. TriCal’s motto is Healthy Fields, Healthy Yields. TriCal is a leader in regulatory requirements that help ensure the health of the consumers and growers.

“Today I learned about TriCal and what it takes to be a PCA or a CAA.” – Brenda Vasquez

Who regulates and permits TriCal to do what they do? The Ag Commissioner. Henry Gonzales is the Ag Commissioner for Monterey County and presented to students about what he does and the career pathway that brought him to the position of Ag Commissioner. Students were extremely engaged and interested in hearing about how Henry Gonzales grew up in Salinas at a local high school.

Continue reading Strawberries, Drones, Fumigation & the Ag Commissioner

Grass and forb planting at Petersen Ranch

Rio Vista High School at Petersen Ranch
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 6, 2019

Participating School
Rio Vista High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District

Mentors
Carolyn Kolstad, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Emily Snider, UCD graduate student
Karleen Vollherbst, Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Matthew Young, Fish Biologist, California Water Science Center, USGS
Luke Petersen, Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science, NRCS

Summary of the Day
The morning of this Field Day was the coldest so far – it was 28 degrees when I arrived to load up the truck with gear in the morning! After finding another water source (the faucets were frozen shut!) we loaded up the truck with hot water for cocoa and were on our way, passing frost-covered cows on the drive.

The restoration site was at the end of a dirt road that had become quite muddy in recent rains – just getting there was a 4wd adventure! Rio Vista High soon arrived with a small but mighty crew of students. After changing into rain boots, we were at our field site in no time.

We started our first Field Day with opening circle, where Chris Carlson of Solano RCD introduced the multi-year project at Petersen Ranch. Just last year, students from Rio Vista High installed irrigation, planted grasses, trees, and shrubs and installed bird boxes. This year’s students will help put the finishing touches on this restoration project. After a game of “Where the Wind Blows” where we learned Rio Vista students enjoy fishing, welding, and spending time outdoors we divided into mentor groups and gathered supplies for the day.

Chris led an informative and entertaining demonstration of our activity for the day – planting “plugs” of native grasses, forbs, and sedges. Mentor groups tackled different areas near the irrigation ditch, planting plugs of mugwort, purple aster, western goldentop, creeping wildrye, and saltgrass. Groups working further from the water source also installed drip emitters on the irrigation line and placed a protective covering around the plug. Rio Vista students worked incredibly fast – 800 plugs were in the ground in under an hour! Luckily Chris had some acorns ready for planting, and explained how oaks planted from acorns tend to live longer than those planted from saplings, as the tap root is undamaged. Students made short work of these acorns as well, planting 15 acorns in the riparian area. It’s amazing to imagine how different the area will be when those trees start to mature!

We still had some time before lunch, so mentor groups grabbed binoculars and bird ID cards and ventured up onto the levee. Some of the bird species we spotted included white-tailed kite, marsh wren, turkey vulture, red tailed hawk, white crowned sparrow, caspian tern, and lots of raptors. After lunch, we returned onto the levee to spend some time reflecting on the day in field journals. Students were great about spreading out to experience the site solo – some students were perched on the levee, while others found quiet spaces near the water.

At closing circle, many students remarked that they most enjoyed learning how to plant and spending time outdoors. Mentors and partners enjoyed this as well, but the adults in our group were most pleasantly surprised by this awesome group of respectful, hardworking, and fun-to-be-around students. Can’t wait for our next day in the field!

Full Belly Farm, Certified Organic since 1985!

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: February 5th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Guinda, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Haley Friel – Director of Outreach and Education at Full Belly Farm

Theme: Sustainability and Organic Farming Practices

Summary of the Day:

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to be spent at Fully Belly Farm’s in Guinda, CA. The North State FARMS Leadership Program was welcomed by Haley Friel, the director of Outreach and Education at Fully Belly Farm. We then took a tour of the 400-acre farm and learned about the different crops grown and the practices in which they use to keep the farm organic and sustainable. Full Belly Farm is planting, growing and harvesting over 80 crops year around keeping them very busy. The students were able to see the pigs raised at at Full Belly Farm and see where the produce is washed and prepped for sale. They even were able to sample so freshly picked produce including oranges, carrots and several other crops some of which we brought back to add to our salads at lunch.

After lunch we went over to the barn where the sheep are currently being housed during lambing season. The North State FARMS students were excited to see lambs that were a few days old as well as some that were just hours old. One ewe even started to go into labor while we were there visiting. Once we left the sheep barn we gathered some baskets and headed over to the mobile chicken coops. We concluded our day collecting baskets full of organic chicken eggs which are currently being sold for $9.00 a dozen.

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.

College Bound?

FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | February 5, 2019

Location of Field Day
Chico, CA

Field Day Host
Ashley Person, College of Agriculture
Patrick Doyle, Professor and Program Coordinator

Participating Schools
Red Bluff High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School
Los Molinos High School
Corning High School

Theme
College Exploration

Summary of the Day:
Having the opportunity to take students to explore a 4-year university makes for a wonderful day. While maybe not all FARMS Leadership students think that college is the right fit for them, taking the time to walk around a university and hear the reality of college life from current students can really make an impact, and possibly set some on a new path they never thought possible.

Our morning began with getting a first hand experience of what the parking situation is at 8:30 AM on a college campus! Wow! What a mess! Needless to say, everyone managed to park and meet up in time to catch our college ambassador who was taking us on a walking tour of campus. On our campus tour we learned about the different resources available to students, and that there are special resources for first year students and those who are first generation college bound. We learned where the library, dining halls, dorms, various classrooms, as well as the favorite places to catch some sun and relax during a busy day on campus are. After we walked enough to work up an appetite, the students got to eat lunch in one of the dining halls that they would be eating at if they lived in the dorms on campus. That was a fun treat and they all enjoyed the “all you can eat” option which included dessert!

The afternoon was spent out at the Chico State Farm. We enjoyed a tour of each “living laboratory” including the organic dairy, swine unit, sheep unit, organic vegetable project, orchards and finished at the beef unit where Dr. Doyle met us to give the students a chance to see what a college lab would entail. He gave a short lecture on the anatomy of a cows stomach while explaining to them how much research is done on their farm by their students while they partner with industry. One of the resources they have to use are cannulated cows which is a cow that has been surgically fitted with a cannula. A cannula acts as a porthole-like device that allows access to the rumen of a cow, to perform research and analysis of the digestive system. Each student got to reach their hand inside the rumen via the cannula and feel the rumen wall as well as retrieve rumen matter out and collect samples to be looked at later. Once everyone had their turn, we took some of the liquid that was taken out of the rumen into a laboratory to test pH as well as see what type of organisms were living in the rumen of this cow.

These hands on activities are truly amazing and make HUGE impacts on students. I can not thank Chico State and their staff enough for this wonderful day!

A wintry finish in Winters

Winters High School at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park Extension
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 5, 2019

Participating School
Winters High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Putah Creek Council
City of Winters

Mentors
Alex Tremblay, Project Manager, Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Karin Young, Education Program Manager, Putah Creek Council
Marisa Alcorta, Apprenticeship Program Manager, Center for Land-Based Learning
Nick Gallagher, Rangeland Management Specialist, USDA

Summary of the Day
Our last Field Day at the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park Extension brought us many more students – some who were participating in a Field Day for the first time! We were introduced to these students in our opening circle, the start of a very cold morning on a very cold day. We attempted to warm up with a game of PVC golf, a game in which each student is given a half piece of PVC pipe. A golf ball must pass through each student’s piece – without letting the ball drop or stop – before making it into the goal at the other side. This is trickier than it sounds – many groups found themselves just one step away from the goal when the ball repeatedly dropped, sending them back to the starting line!

After our morning icebreaker, Tanya Meyer of Yolo County Resource Conservation District instructed us on our tasks for the day – plug planting, straw mulching, and building and installing bluebird boxes.

Plug planting came first, which proved to be much more difficult than usual! Sticky, muddy conditions made the dibbles (the tools which pokes holes for the tiny plants) difficult to remove from the earth but students persevered and planted 1500 grass plugs by the end of the morning. Our next task was straw mulching, which will help prevent moisture loss and discourage weed growth around plants we planted on our second Field Day. At least 1 flake of straw hay needed to go around each of the 200 plants, yet it felt like this task was accomplished in just a few minutes! Winters students were great at working hard, and working together.

Guest speaker Hanika of the UCD Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology joined us to speak about cavity nesting birds. Naturally occuring tree cavities can be difficult to come by for native bird species, especially with competition from invasive cavity nesters. Installing bird boxes tailored to specific bird species is one way to increase nesting opportunities for native species. To put the finishing touch on our restoration project, each mentor group would be installing a bluebird box on the south side of the site, near Putah Creek. Installation was a bit tricky, but mentor groups worked together to put up 4 bluebird boxes. Come spring, we’ll be able to see if any birds have taken up residence.

After lunch, students were given the opportunity to interview mentors about their education and career paths. Small groups of students rotated between each mentor, asking great questions about the steps they had taken to get to where they are in their careers. SLEWS is a great way for students to gain hands-on restoration experience, but it also provides exposure to professionals in the fields of agriculture, restoration, and environmental science.

To wrap up our SLEWS project at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park Extension, students wrote a Thank You card to someone who made their SLEWS experience possible – perhaps a mentor, funder, restoration partner, or their teacher, Ms. Roberts. At closing circle, we reflected on our favorite moments of our three days together – for many of us, it was exploring Putah Creek and seeing the spawning salmon!

I am thrilled to have completed three field days with the stellar, hardworking students of Winters High and our project partners, Yolo County Resource Conservation District and Putah Creek Council. Because these students are Winters locals, they will be able to return to this site many times in years to come – one student remarked that “it’ll be so cool to see how this place changes once the trees grow!” and I must say, I completely agree!