FARMS Leadership| Central Valley | January 22, 2019
El Diamante High School, Visalia CA
Mt. Whitney High School, Visalia CA
Location West Hills College Lemoore
Partners/Mentors Kris Costa, Dean of Career Technical Education Tina Simas, Secretary, Student Services
Summary of the Day We’ve been running the FARMS Leadership Program for 25 years, and yet every field day is something new. With almost 100 field days each year, that’s a lot of creativity on behalf of our partners and staff! Today’s field day at West Hills College Lemoore is an example of that. Students learned the history of the campus, the various and diverse services and programs they offer, were treated to an educational “etiquette” lunch, and then got to work in the automation lab!
“We were thrilled to have you here!” – Kris Costa, Dean of Career Technical Education
“It was comforting knowing students have so much support here and their agenda wasn’t just come to West Hills Lemoore, but they encouraged our students to go anywhere, but if it happened to be here that would be awesome!” -Katie Wortman, FARMS Leadership Program Coordinator
Participating Schools Red Bluff High School Mercy High School Orland High School Los Molinos High School
Field Day Host Beneficial Insectary, Inc.
Participating Partners Stephanie Drinkall
Theme Integrated Pest Management
Summary of the Day Tehama FARMS Advanced had the pleasure of visiting the Beneficial Insectary in Redding, CA who has been a leader in the production and application of beneficial organisms used in biological pest control and integrated pest management programs. Stephanie Drinkall, customer service representative, gave a fabulous presentation about all aspects of their business from the facilities, to the types of insects they raise, and what services they provide to customers.
It was fascinating to learn about how many different types of beneficial insects are raised and sold commercially to be used in IPM programs from small household sizes to major nursery settings. We were able to inspect fly predators and lacewings in both the adult form as well as larvae stage, as well as watch the lacewing larvae feed on aphids under a microscope. We also hear from one of their key outside salesman who goes out to customers farms and is able to not only identify current pest issues but also prescribe what types of beneficial insects should be used to help limit damage from the pests.
Bio security is taken very seriously and therefore we were not able to tour their farm or packing facility. However it was a great day with much knowledge gained why farmers are encouraged to implement IPM practices and how the Beneficial Insectary plays and important role in this.
FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | January 17, 2019
Location of Field Day Red Bluff, CA
Participating High Schools Red Bluff High School Los Molinos High School Corning High School Mercy High School
Field Day Host Kari Dodd, Tehama County Farm Bureau Manager
Theme CAP Planning
Summary of the Day: Students started the morning with a fun activity of building student bio books. It was a great way to start the year by digging into self awareness as well as setting some SMART goals. Throughout the activity all the students wrote and illustrated 3 topics: Where did I come from? Who am I today? Where am I going? Lastly we set a SMART goal for the year. To finish this activity off, we went around the room and practiced our public speaking by presenting our books to the group. Public speaking is such an important skill that can never be over practiced.
Kari Dodd, Farm Bureau Manager, then did a wonderful presentation about Farm Bureau. It was great to open the student’s eyes as to what an important role Farm Bureau plays for our local farmers, as well as consumers and have some discussion about what a “grassroots” business is. She then had the students do an activity thinking about their strengths, and weaknesses.
To wrap up the day, each school designed a dream board as to what they want their Community Action Project to be. It was a fun way to get a jump on an important aspect of our FARMS Leadership program and being sure that we are making an impact in our local communities.
On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, the Central Valley North FARMS Leadership group visited Food Commons Fresno. Students learned about the history of T&D Willey Farm and how Ooooby Fresno came to be. Students worked on the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) line and packed CSA Boxes that Ooooby distributes to over 700 local community customers. Students participated in making their own marketing and social media posts. The students worked outside of their comfort zone by producing their own videos displaying the many different products inside that weeks Ooooby box. “I was very surprised how quickly the students ran with this sort of task.” Eric DeJong, Students then enjoyed lunch and visited Road 20 Farm where the students walked a muddy block 1 of the farm where they saw the operation in action. Road 20 Farm organically grows 60+ varieties of crops at one time. It was an amazing day!
Florin High School at River Garden Farms SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 15, 2019
Participating School Florin High School
Partners/Landowners Audubon California River Garden Farms
Mentors Aaron Haiman, Environmental Scientist and Tribal Liaison, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy Esther Tracy, Environmental Scientist, Department of Water Resources Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS Xerónimo Castañeda, Conservation Project Associate, Audubon California
Summary of the Day Our second day at River Garden Farms wins the award for wettest Field Day of the season so far! As soon as students arrived we had them gear up in rain gear and mud boots before having breakfast under a canopy. We did an opening circle and played “Where the Wind Blows” to learn more about each other, before playing a round of “Steal the Native Plant” to learn more about some of the species we’d later be planting.
On our first Field Day we installed a drip irrigation system, but unfortunately this area was too muddy for us to access this time. Luckily, Dominic Bruno (Assistant General Manager of River Garden Farms) had another project up his sleeve – maintaining the native plant hedgerow that classes of SLEWS students help install in years past. He demonstrated the proper way to trim the deergrass bunches, plant milkweed seeds, and replant some of the plants that did not survive.
Two mentor groups set off, clippers in hand, to trim the deergrass. One group pretended they were working in a barbershop, giving “haircuts” to the bunches of deergrass on the levee. As one student put it, “we gave haircuts to 33 customers and not a single one left us a tip!”. Two other groups ventured in the opposite direction, replanting some of the plants from previous years that hadn’t survived. Finally, the fifth group worked on planting “companion” milkweed seeds next to established plants. These milkweed plants will be a crucial resource for migrating monarch butterflies. By the end of the day, Dominic estimated that students trimmed 45 deergrass, planted 100 milkweed plants as associates, and replanted 50 native trees and shrubs!
The rain continued to come down throughout the morning, so we decided to shelter for lunch. After taking off raingear, students loaded back up onto the bus to ride to the shop area for lunch. On the way, avid birder and mentor Aaron Haiman led the students in a birdwatching activity facing some flooded rice fields. Flooding the rice fields breaks down the rice stalks for the following growing season, but also creates artificial wetlands that provide habitat for migratory birds. River Garden Farms has added another level of restoration to this effort, growing “Fish Food” for young salmon in the Sacramento River. You can learn more about this awesome project by watching the short film “A New Way Forward” at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miIhs-mc_40.
Students enjoyed lunch in River Garden Farms’ shop area, eating at tables amongst rice harvesting machinery storage. Students especially enjoyed warming up by the heater after a chilly, wet day!
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.
The importance of caring for our waterways in ways that will encourage our salmon and steelhead to be able to make the journey to the ocean and then return back to their birthplace would have truly appreciated Tehama County’s FARMS Advanced trip to Coleman Fish Hatchery.
Coleman Fish Hatchery is located right on Battle Creek which feeds directly into the Sacramento River. We had the pleasure of taking part in one of the most important processes that takes place to continue the cycle of life for our local salmon and steel-head, spawning day. What does that mean? It is when the employees at Coleman Fish Hatchery “spawn” or collect the eggs out of the female fish, fertilize them with sperm from the male fish and then send these eggs to their incubation tanks so they can grow and develop into little fish in the safety of the hatchery.
Laura Mahoney greeted us and immediately put us to work. FARMS Advanced student, Mary-Pat from Mercy High School went to the incubation building where she helped a hatchery employee receive the eggs, transfer them into incubation trays, disinfect them of any pathogens that may have been in the water or carried by the fish by using and iodine bath, and then put them into the flow of water where they will continue to develop.
Students, Gabe Harris from Los Molinos High and Jack Lazzaretto from Orland High went to the spawning building where they met staff from Coleman Fish Hatchery as well as staff that was collecting scales and livers for research for both the Federal Government and California State. They learned how to sex the steelhead and know if they are truly ready for spawning. It quickly became apparent why waterproof shoes and a change of clothes was recommended! Gabe and Jack became part of the team and played important roles in this spawning process.
Once the spawning was finished, we followed the researchers into their certified lab where we watched them process the livers and ovarian fluid that was collected.
Lastly, we were treated to a tour of their ozone plant. What is an ozone plant? Water entering the hatchery comes from Battle Creek and contains bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be harmful to fish. Before the water is used for fish culture it is filtered and treated with ozone to kill all the disease organisms. All water used in the process of raising these fish is treated by this process.
Woodland High School at Pharm Schaer SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 10, 2019
Participating School Woodland High School
Partners/Landowners Yolo County Resource Conservation District Candice Schaer
Mentors Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS Gina Radieve, Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources Miles Daprato, Environmental Steward for UCD Campus Planning and Environmental Stewardship Department Susie Bresney, Staff Scientist, Stockholm Environment Institute
Summary of the Day After our first Field Day was postponed due to poor air quality from the Camp Fire, we were eager to get started on our project at Pharm Schaer, Candice Schaer’s property in Guinda.
Since it was our first Field Day with Woodland students, our opening circle served as an introduction to the restoration project as well as the partners, landowners, and mentors. Alex Tremblay of Yolo County Resource Conservation District explained the project planning process and project goals, including planting native trees and shrubs to increase species diversity, promote beneficial insects and provide nectar sources for insects and cover for wildlife. Students also met the film crew from local public television show “Rob on the Road” – they were filming this field day for an upcoming segment on SLEWS!
After opening circle, students met with their mentor groups and were presented with a bucket of various irrigation supplies and tools – tubing, emitters, pokers, cutters, and connectors. Students were given time to practice with these items in order to become familiar with the components of a drip irrigation system. Students were quickly able to figure out how drip irrigation works, and Brandon Baker of Yolo County Resource Conservation District followed up with an instructional demonstration.
The first task was to roll out the irrigation line which is a major group effort! Each student helped carry a section of the 1400 foot tube, even rounding a corner. Once the line was laid down, one mentor group measured and flagged the line every ten feet so the other two mentor groups could follow, poking holes and installing emitters. After the line was complete, we did a quality check, turning the water on so students could replace emitters that were improperly installed. Woodland students worked so hard and efficiently that there wasn’t much to fix – we were even able to measure and install emitters on an additional 200 foot section of irrigation, far exceeding the landowner and RCD’s expectations for the day.
After lunch, I was so impressed to see Woodland students picking up shovels and pushing wheelbarrows to gather mulch – landowner Candice Schaer had asked for help filling in a muddy patch and they responded with trademark enthusiasm. They made short work of that small project, and then mentor groups ventured out to identify some native plants on the property. They even recognized a few plants we had planted that day!
To conclude the day, students found an area to sit by themselves and reflect on their experience in their Field Journal. At our closing circle, many students remarked that this moment of quiet reflection was their favorite part of the whole day.
Grant Union High at Clark Ranch 2 SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 13, 2018 Participating School Grant Union High School Location Clark Ranch 2 in Davis, CA – the southern of two projects at this site Partners/Landowners Yolo County Resource Conservation District Rominger Brothers Farms Bruce Clark Mentors Amelia Munson, UC Davis graduate student Jen Metes, Research Associate, Consero Solutions Julea Shaw, UC Davis graduate student Mandi Finger, Associate Director, Genomic Variation Lab Sean McNamara, Farm Manager, Sierra Orchards Summary of the Day Students from Grant Union’s GEO Academy returned for their second Field Day at Clark Ranch to clear, calm skies – a welcome change after a VERY windy first Field Day! After breakfast and hot cocoa under the oak grove, we circled up to begin the day. We discussed the impact our project will have on the area, and the ways in which the plants will help improve the surrounding habitat. We also introduced new project mentors and partners before playing a game of group juggle to help us remember each other’s names.
Following opening circle we played “Steal the Native Plant” – a SLEWS planting day classic. Students learned the characteristics of manzanita, buckbrush, sage, elderberry, and coyote brush – five of the plants we’d be planting that day – before competing to be the first to identify species and earn points for their mentor groups.
Alex Tremblay of Yolo County Resource Conservation District let students in a planting demonstration to ensure our plants have the best possible chance of survival. One student was so inspired by this demonstration that he created an illustrated step-by-step guide during our end-of-day reflection (see below). Students jumped right into planting with enthusiasm and by lunchtime had planted 280 native trees and shrubs!
After lunch, students participated in a Nature Scavenger Hunt in their mentor groups, with most groups finding all 17 items in just 15 minutes! One group was excited to share that they found an owl pellet with bones inside, while another was thrilled to see a lizard as they explored the area. To finish the day, students reflected on their day by creating a “Postcard from the Field”, writing and drawing to sum up their experiences.
One exciting addition to this day was a film crew from local public television show “Rob on the Road” – they are doing a feature on the Center for Land-Based Learning and the SLEWS program, and were capturing footage of the group throughout the day. You may soon see Grant Union students on TV if you’re a fan of PBS!
It is always a pleasure to work with this fantastic group of students. I was once again impressed by their kindness to their peers and ceaseless positive attitudes. Can’t wait for Field Day #3!
Summary of the Day:
Our field day at Sunsweet began with an introduction by Jamie Dickerson. She talked about the background and history of Sunsweet. Sunsweet operates the largest dried fruit plant in the world. Jamie also discussed with the students the different types of jobs and careers Sunsweet has to offer. Next Jamie introduced Tracy Atondo to the students. Tracy continued Jamie’s presentation and discussed Sunsweet in more depth and talked about how Sunsweet has become the success it is today and how they work with the farmers who grow the products they sell. After their presentation; Jamie, Tracy, and Amber passed out some Sunsweet merchandise to all the students. We then headed over to the Sunsweet Dryer in Marysville where we me Nathan Martson. He chatted with the students about the dryer side of the Sunsweet operation. Nathan then gave us a tour of the facility which he manages.