AgVocacy at Cosumnes River College

FARMS Leadership Program | Sac Valley and San Joaquin | December 11, 2018

Field Day Host(s)
Cosumnes River College
Bayer Crop Sciences
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)

Mentors
Kelly O’Halloran – Bayer Crop Sciences
Jacqueline Airoso – Collections Manager & Environmental Scientist – CDFA
Traci Scott – Outreach Specialist – Cosumnes River College
David Andrews – Professor of Horticulture – Cosumnes River College

Theme
College and Career Opportunities

Summary of the Day
The Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Programs joined together for a field day at Cosumnes River College (CRC). The field day began with a group activity called Human Knot. This activity was designed for students to meet one another and then work together to problem solve and untangle them selves to form a circle.

After the group activity, our first presenter for the day was introduced. Kelly O’Halloran presented to the group. She gave an overview of Bayer Crop Sciences and also discussed the many different jobs that are associated with in their company. She also had a presentation on AgVocacy, which enables those who are passionate about modern agriculture to discuss the importance of agriculture, food production and the innovation needed to nourish our growing world.

Our second guest speaker for the day was Jacqueline Airoso from the CDFA. She gave a presentation on who the CDFA is and what they do. She also discussed plant pest’s and diagnostics.

Following our presentations Traci Scott gave us a tour of the Cosumnes River College Campus. We ended the tour at the Horticulture Department where David Andrews showed the students around and discussed the different courses offered at CRC. The students enjoyed walking around the garden and harvesting some late fall crops to sample and bring home.

 

 

Planting and salmon spotting along Putah Creek

Winters High School at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park Extension
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 11, 2018

Participating School
Winters High School

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

Mentors
Corey Shake, Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science, NRCS
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
Two weeks after installing a complete irrigation system, Winters High students returned for a day of planting trees and shrubs. After a rainy first Field Day, we were rewarded with picture perfect weather for Field Day #2!

It was chilly in the morning, so students warmed up with hot cocoa before we gathered for our opening circle. A game of “Where the Wind Blows” allowed us to identify commonalities within the group and learn new things about the members of our SLEWS team. Mentor groups learned to identify redbud, toyon, coffeeberry, valley oak, interior live oak, and bay – 6 of the native plants we’d be planting to create native habitat. Then it was time for “Steal the Native Plant”, a lively planting day tradition in which students race to be the first to correctly identify a native plant and earn points for their mentor groups.

Alex Tremblay and Tanya Meyer of Yolo County Resource Conservation District led a planting demonstration where students learned how to properly dig a hole, pack down the soil, and install a plastic tube that will protect the young plants from wind, critters, and weed control. Students set off in mentor groups to begin planting, and found that digging was quite time consuming – luckily, Brandon Baker of Yolo RCD was busy using an auger (a piece of heavy machinery that resembles a giant drill) to dig holes for the larger shrubs and trees. Students followed with native plants and before long students had planted an impressive 177 plants – 135 trees and 42 shrubs! Since these students are Winters locals, they will be able to watch these trees and shrubs grow for years to come.

After lunch, Amy Williams of Putah Creek Council led students on a tour of a nearby mitigation area that is protected due to the presence of elderberry trees. The trees themselves are not protected, but the endangered and endemic Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle depends on the tree for every phase of its life cycle. Students also recognized mature forms of some of the plants they had just planted. They noticed redbud trees with seed pods, the familiar lobed leaves of Valley Oaks, flowering coyote brush, and a dazzling toyon displaying thousands of bright red berries! Though they had just planted these plants, it can be hard to imagine what the space will look like when the plants are tiny and hidden by tree tubes. Seeing the plants fully grown allowed students to realize the impact their work will have on the area in coming years.

We hiked down to the creek where students spread out to reflect on the day by writing and drawing a “Postcard from the Field”. When it was time to head back, several students wanted to keep writing! As we headed back to the bus, mentor Corey Shake pointed out something very exciting – a spawning salmon. We missed them on our first Field Day, but on this day everyone got to see the adult fish that has come to Putah Creek to breed – a thrilling end to a great second Field Day!

 

Ag Mechanics at Los Molinos High School

FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | December 7, 2018

Location of Field Day:
Los Molinos, CA

Participating High Schools: 
Los Molinos High, Mercy High, Red Bluff High, Corning High

Field Day Host:
Los Molinos High School

Participating Partners:
Shasta Junior College Welding Department
Principal Miguel Barriga, Los Molinos High School
Becky Roe, Sierra Pacific Industries, A&R Custom Butchering

Theme:
Ag. Mechanics, Interview Preparation

Summary of the Day:
Calling all mechanics, welders, fabricators, and computer geeks!! This day was one for the books. While holding field days at our high schools is not the norm, we were excited for Tehama County’s FARMS Leadership students to get the true hands-on experience with local industry in the various ag mechanics fields that we highlighted: welding, heavy equipment operating, computer programming, laser engraving, and job interview preparedness.

Shasta College sent two of their top students to teach our FARMS Leadership group the art and skills required to become a welder.
Many of our students had never had this opportunity before, so using Los Molinos’ individual welding bays was a safe and fun way to experience this! Safety was key to this day, and as a group, we received a detailed safety presentation from Michael Kling, the Los Molinos Ag Instructor before any activities started.

“I learned that lifting the arc makes the puddle wider and also makes it hotter.” – Forrest Powell, Los Molinos High School

For those students whose interest is peaked by heavy equipment operation, they were able to get hands-on by driving a front end loader through a course of barrels and even test their backing skills. Gabe Harris, a FARMS Advanced student, gave each student a lesson in the safe, proper operation of the equipment. It was such fun to see the expressions from those who had never driven a tractor before. Memories were surely made!

“I had a lot of fun driving the tractor!” – Hannah Endres, Corning High School

Those students who are interested in computer programming and art or design loved the rotation where they were introduced to a laser engraver and how it can be used in conjunction with computer design to create some awesome pieces. Each school was able to create a design on the computer, their school name with the FARMS Leadership logo that was then engraved on a wooden sign. It was amazing how precise the engraver was. Every detail was transferred from the computer design to the finished product.

“I learned how to use a laser table and found out it produces very intricate and detailed art work. They can be used on glass, wood, metal and leather!”

Itzel Favela, Red Bluff High School

While it is always fun exploring careers in agriculture, the next step to explore and learn the necessary skills for is… How do I get a job? What does an interview look like? Mrs. Becky Roe from Sierra Pacific Industries joined us to help teach these skills. She led an open discussion with the students encouraging questions about how to fill out an application, the important part of your resume and cover letter, and they participated in a role-play activity showing students how to act and the importance of your first impression when you are called in for an interview. Each student gained the knowledge of how to properly dress, shake hands, speak, and that it is ok to ask questions.

“I learned that your social media can effect your job.” – Kylee McCormick, Corning High School

Special Thank You to A&R Custom Butchering for donating all the tri-tip for our lunch!

Agriculture Research

FARMS Leadership Program

Central Valley Central

Thursday, December 6, 2018

USDA Research Center, Parlier CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Dr. James Throne; Dr. Craig Ledbetter

On Tuesday, December 6, 2018, the Central Valley Central FARMS Leadership Program that consists of Patino High School and Sunnyside High School visited the USDA Ag Research Center. In the morning, students brushed up on their Leadership and Introduction skills. We were then joined by Dr. James Throne for Center overview. He shared with the group what this USDA location does day in and day out and how they are funded. The students were then split into two groups and rotated through these two topic areas: Insect acoustics and Almond Breeding. Students enjoyed a Baked Potato Bar lunch and then finished out the day at the Second Rotation as Outlined Above. Students were able to ask questions that may not have been answered by Dr. James Throne & Staff

Inland Empire Students Head to the Mountains for a SLEWS Meadow Restoration Project

SLEWS | San Bernardino County | Oct. 26, 2018

Location of Field Day:
Sky Park Santa’s Village, Skyforest, CA

Participating School:
Citrus Valley High School

Mentors:
Natural Resources Conservation Service
– Tomas Aguilar-Campos
American Bird Conservancy – Rachel Smith
Santa Ana Watershed Association – Mari Archer
Orange County Water District – Cameron Macbeth
IERCD Staff – Susie Kirchner, Brian Robey, Alma Eichman, Shari Tindall

Field Day Overview:
30 students from Citrus Valley High School visited Sky Park Santa’s Village to support their efforts in improving the properties’ meadow habitat, which had in the previous decade served as a dumping ground for bark beetle infested trees. We started the day with our favorite warm up game – a rock, paper, scissors tournament. In this game, students compete against their classmates, teachers, and mentors in the traditional game of rock, paper, scissors . However, when a person loses the game to another, they then become a cheerleader for the winner of that round and must chant their name. Eventually, there are only two remaining winners, each with a group of cheerleaders they have picked up along the way, and the final battle occurs.

After the quick warm up, we provided the students an overview and safety discussion and jumped right into the project work for the day. Students planted (and mulched) over 40 native plants, collected seed to distribute in other parts of the site, and removed invasive weeds. We were lucky to be accompanied by a former U.S Forest Service Botanist, Gina Richmond, who guided the students and provided information on each of the plants.

After lunch, we transitioned into learning about forestry and forest health. Especially after this year’s severe fires, it felt like a relevant topic to be sharing with students on how to assess a forest and make recommendations on how to improve its resiliency. Led by our NRCS District Conservationist, Tomas Aguilar-Campos, we showed students how to perform a fixed-radius plot survey to determine the stocking level of a forest and the health of individual trees. We also asked the students how Sky Park could improve their fire resiliency, some of the answers included, “trimming tree limbs”, and “removing trees, especially smaller trees”.

To wrap up the day, we couldn’t leave Sky Park Santa’s Village without having a little fun in the park! Students were able to try out the archery course before heading down the hill back to school. We are looking forward to welcoming these students back for another SLEWS trip in the Spring.

 

A little mud never hurt anyone…

Sacramento Charter High School at Clark Ranch 1
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 5, 2018

Participating School
Sacramento Charter High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Rominger Brothers Farms
Bruce Clark

Mentors
Bob Ream, retired
Dana Stokes
Jess Rudnick, UC Davis graduate student
Lea Pollack, UC Davis graduate student
Sarah Gaffney, UC Davis graduate student

Summary of the Day
We prepared for a bit of mud on our field day at Clark Ranch but we didn’t anticipate just how much mud Tuesday night’s rain would create! It was a muddy, sticky, day – but a ton of fun.

After putting on the now-ubiquitous yellow raingear and mudboots, we crossed a metal footbridge to our location for the day – Clark Ranch. The Rominger Brothers Farms team farms the land owned by Bruce Clark, and our project site was alongside a young almond orchard. After some breakfast and hot chocolate, we opened the day by learning a little more about each other and playing “Group Juggle”, a name game. We also got a introduction to our restoration project – planting native plants on the edges of Clark Ranch to increase biodiversity.

Students learned the name of 5 of the plants we’d be planting – buckwheat, sage, fuschia, wild rose, and manzanita – before competing to see who could be the first to identify the species. Sacramento High students were awesome at this – we didn’t have one misidentification through the whole game!

Alex Tremblay of Yolo RCD gave a planting demonstration before mentor groups set off in opposite directions, spreading out along the previously installed irrigation line. To say conditions were muddy would be an understatement – shovels, trowels, and gloves were quickly covered in sticky goo which made planting quite a challenge, especially as some of the plants were quite large. The farm manager intended to have a crew come in to finish the work that students were not able to complete. Much to everyone’s surprise, Sac High students finished the entire project – 230 plants!

After all that hard work, students enjoyed a lunch of burritos before reflecting on the experiences of the day as a group. Before long, it was time to shed the raingear and head back to school.

I can’t wait to see how much our plants have grown when we return at the end of January!

Agriculture and Research

Program: FARMS Leadership

Region: Central Valley North & South

Field Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Location of Field Day: Kearney Research

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Theme: Research in Agriculture

On, Tuesday, December 4, 2018, the Central Valley North and South FARMS Leadership Groups consisting of Madera High School, Madera Liberty High School, Kerman High School, Clovis East High School, Lindsey High School, Hanford High School, El Diamante High School and Mt. Whitney High School participated in a joint field day at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier CA.  At the beginning of the day the leadership team prepared introductions for the days hosts. Following introductions, students were split into three groups and rotated through three topic areas. They studieds Soils such as soil quality, healthy soils for healthy crops. The second area they studied Post Harvest Quality by answering the question of How suppliers know whether or not the fruits and vegetables that I buy will be ripe and flavorful?  And finally, the importance of grains, such as types of grains, whole grain nutrition and how they grow. At lunch time the hosts sat with the students and presented about their job and students asked all kinds of questions related to their work and how they got there. These questions lead to a great roundtable discussion. The hosts were very gracious with their time and answering all of the students questions. We had a great visit as always and are excited to return!

A productive day at River Garden Farms

Florin High School at River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 4, 2018

Participating School
Florin High School

Partners/Landowners
Audubon CA
River Garden Farms

Mentors
Aaron Haiman, Environmental Scientist and Tribal Liaison, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy
Esther Tracy, Environmental Scientist, Department of Water Resource
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS
Jacob Byers, Partners Biologist, Sacramento NWRC

Summary of the Day
We had an ambitious project in line (no pun intended) for our first SLEWS day this year at River Garden Farms – installing a complete drip irrigation system! This includes rolling out irrigation tubing, “stapling” it into place, measuring the line to place a flag every 10 feet (marking the areas where plants will go), cutting 12 inch sections of spaghetti tubing and connecting emitters, and finally poking holes in the drip line to attach the spaghetti tubing and emitters which will provide water to each plant. As one student said, it “looks like a long sprinkler”! River Garden Farms had prepared 4 1000 foot sections – nearly a mile –  of line, but anticipated that SLEWS students would install just 2 of these sections.

Upon their arrival, students changed into rubber boots before walking past two former SLEWS sites on the way to their project site. After our opening circle, mentor groups divided up to tackle various tasks – two groups rolled out drip irrigation tubing, which was a knotty challenge, while two other groups followed them, measuring, flagging, and stapling the line into place. A fifth group assembled spaghetti tubing and emitters in the meantime, and other groups joined as they returned. This task was especially challenging – the cold weather meant the plastic spaghetti tubing was quite stiff. The completed emitters were then installed along the dripline. We still had plenty of time after completing 2000 feet of an irrigation system, so why not continue?

By the end of the morning, students had fully installed an impressive 3000 feet of a drip irrigation system, with another 500 feet of dripline rolled out – 1500 feet more than we thought possible! After lunch, mentor Jacob Byers introduced the group to the site of the two former SLEWS projects at River Garden Farms, and discussed project planning, and impact on the area – he was part of the team that planned these restoration efforts. Students wanted to know if the project will be continued by even more students next year! To finish the day, the group spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the day in their field journals – it was difficult to get them to stop!

Thanks for a great day, Florin High, mentors,  and River Garden Farms and Audubon CA staff!

An impressive day of planting at Sequoia Farms

Davis High School at Sequoia Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | November 30, 2018

Participating School
Davis High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District
National Center for Appropriate Technology
Sequoia Farms

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

Summary of the Day
After a very rainy Thursday, I was concerned about the weather for Davis High’s first Field Day at Sequoia Farms, an organic walnut orchard located in Dixon. Luckily we were treated to a gorgeous day, with a bit of mud for good measure!

Since the orchard perimeter was too muddy to access by vehicle, students donned yellow rain bibs and mud boots for the walk to our field site. On the way, students got an up close view of the orchard, and asked great questions about walnut grafting (“Why does the bottom of the trunk look different than the top?” – we prefer to eat English Walnuts, but native Black Walnuts are more resistant to regional diseases and pests; fusing them together gives farmers the best of both worlds) and walnut growth (“Where are all the walnuts?!” – they had recently been harvested).

At our opening circle, mentors and restoration partners introduced themselves and their education and career paths, and we played a game of “Group Juggle” to learn everyone’s names. Rex Dufour of NCAT gave a great presentation on some of the beneficial insects that our plants will help attract. Then we split into mentor groups to learn the names and characteristics of 6 of the native plants we’d be planting including toyon, coffeeberry, deergrass, rabbitbrush, lilac and coyote brush. We played a game called “steal the native plant” where mentor groups competed to be the first to identify the native plant.

Next it was time to learn how to plant! Rex Dufour gave an informative demonstration on the best way to plant these natives to give them the best chance at survival and groups of students spread out with their mentors to get started. Davis students completed way more of the work than we thought possible and by the end of the morning they’d planted 600 plants!

After lunch, each student chose a walnut tree to lean against as they reflected in their Field Journals, writing a postcard to themselves about the day. After the walk back to change out of raingear, we had a brief closing circle to end the day. Students remarked that they would remember the hard work they did, and that they felt helpful and productive restoring the ecosystem.

NRCS Plant Material Center

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: November 29th, 2018

Location: Lockeford, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Margaret Smither-Kopperl
Matthew Bronson, PMC Farm Manager

Theme: Ecology and Habitat Conservation

 Summary of the Day:

The San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Students had no intentions of letting a little rain stop them from learning about Ecology and Habitat Conservation at the Plant Material Center (PMC) in Lockeford, Ca. Although our plans did change due to the rain and heavy winds that rolled in, we had a fun filled day learning a lot about what happens in the daily operations at the Natural Resource Center. The day started out with a tour of the facilities led by Matthew Bronson the Farm Manager at the PMC. The students were able to see and learn about the different equipment used, tractors, and even were able to walk through the seed library where numerous amounts of native California plant seeds are stored.

 

After Matthew’s tour the students gathered in the PMC’s office meeting room where they were broken up into groups to team project. The Project they all worked on was to draft a landscape at the PMC using a variety of different native plants. The students were given a list of native plants as well as books and information on each plant so that they could design the landscape of an actual area of land that the PMC has that needs to be re-planted. Once the groups finished their designs we took a lunch break.

 

Following our lunch break Margaret Smither-Kopperl took over to discuss the different plants the students chose. She then gave us a tour of the property where the students were able to see examples of the plants they chose and take cuttings from each plant along the way. Once each group had a handful of cuttings from the plants the chose they were able to work with Matthew and Margaret to prep the cuttings and plant them into the green house so that the PMC could utilize them in the landscape that the students designed.