The final SLEWS day of the (school) year

Sacramento Charter High School at Clark Ranch 1
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | April 17, 2019

Participating School
Sacramento Charter High School

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

Mentors
Bob Ream, retired
Corey Shake, Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science, NRCS
Dana Stokes
Jess Rudnick, UC Davis graduate student

Summary of the Day
For the final Field Day with Sacramento Charter High School (and final Field Day of the 2018 – 2019 SLEWS season!) we were back at our original site, Clark Ranch. Our first Field Day was here back in December, but for our second day we installed irrigation at a site in Woodland. It had been over 4 months since our day at this site and it was remarkable how much had changed. In December the site was so muddy we couldn’t bring vehicles in, and it rained intermittently throughout the day. This time, it was plenty dry to drive on and at eighty degrees was the hottest SLEWS day of the season!

Students were excited during breakfast to find a native butterfly we identified as a Painted Lady. We played PVC golf to connect with our mentor groups before heading out to see the plants we had planted back in December. As this site had experienced a lot of wind and some flooding with the stormy winter we had, our task was to replace bamboo poles, adjust tubes and emitters, and weed around the plants to increase their chance at survival. One student found caterpillars while working along the hedgerow and wondered if they might be Painted Ladies – the same species we saw earlier in the adult (butterfly) form.

After completing our restoration work, mentor Jessica Rudnick, a UC Davis Graduate Student, led the students in a fun educational activity. She explained that they would be investigative journalists, and their assignment was to figure out how the farm was addressing environmental issues. Students rotated between stations learning about pollination (and native habitat benefits!), weeds and cover crops, irrigation, and predators on the farm. Students got to try immature almonds and were surprised to find they tasted like cucumbers! And appropriately, as mentor Corey Shake was discussing predators on the farm, a Swainson’s Hawk flew overhead.

Once students had had a chance to learn about all aspects of the farm, they compiled their reports. Some students elected to share their findings – one memorable and report was a student who chose to be a critical reporter and delivered a hilariously negative story about the almond orchard.

After lunch, we celebrated student Jordan’s birthday before ending the day with a closing circle. Many students remarked that they really enjoyed seeing how much their plants had grown in the past four months!

Bulldogs and Agriculture

FARMS Program |
Kern and Central Valley Regions |January 25, 2019

Participating Schools
Kern County:
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

Central Valley:
Hanford High School
Kerman High School

Summary of the Day
Do you think Bulldogs know about Agriculture? The Fresno State Bulldogs are pros! Our Central Valley and Kern County FARMS Advanced students learned a lot about their character and about Integrated Pest Management as we toured the Fresno State Ag Department.

We started the day gathering in the Ag One Meeting Room. Introductions were made between students through an Ice Breaker activity. This helped the two regions come together, however many of the students knew each other already due to the connectivity through social media and the FFA world.

A Leadership Team was established in the group and they were given the task to interview and then introduce our hosts, Michelle Perez, and Rick Chacon. Fresno State offers a class in True Colors, a personality development tool aiding in team development. Students were amazed at the outcome and how it validated how they think and act. They also were led through an exercise in understanding the other personality traits and how to work with those traits. Students discussed how they might use this tool in the workplace or even in their social circles and families.

We broke for lunch and then made our way out to the farm to study the pistachio and almond trees. We talked about identifying the Naval Orange Worm and the devastating effects it can have on the industry. We talked about the practices used to protect against it as well.

Dr. Jacob Wenger taught about the Naval Orange Worm

We also discussed the shaking process in almonds and were able to witness the equipment used to shake the trees. Ranch Manager Rob gave us a tour of the campus’s working orchard where we discussed the importance of the care and maintenance in order to keep harvesting on track.

From the field, we went to the Jordan Lab. This state of the art lab has been a great addition to the campus and we were fortunate to get a behind the scenes tour. The lab allows for in-depth ag research. The professional nature of the lab is something the students noticed right away. One lab was dedicated to the study of the Naval Orange Worm. Dr. Wenger shared his knowledge and how they are considering working on a way to make the worm glow for earlier detection. They use the smallest of needles to inject the worms to change their DNA then breed this new gene We were able to study the different life cycles of the worms.

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!