FARMS Advanced visits Chico State

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | March 5, 2019

Location of Field Day
Chico, CA

Field Day Host
Sarah DeForest, College of Agriculture Director of External Relations

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

Theme
College Exploration, Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:

The morning began with meeting Sarah DeForest, the director of external relations, at the Chico State Farm. There we began our networking and practiced our professional introductions. Sarah invited us on a tour where we visited each of their 4 animal units; dairy, beef, swine, sheep as well as saw how diverse they are with having 800 acres of orchards, row crops and garden plots with green houses.

At the dairy unit, we learned about there operation and how and why they transitioned from a conventional herd to the current organic herd they have which allows them to market “organic milk”. With the current milk market, and the college operating a small herd of 80 cows they are able to sell their milk for a higher price as organic as well as give their students a leg up in the industry by learning the practices that come with organic farming. We toured the milking parlor which can hold 6 cows at a time and is equipped with automatic grain feeders as well as RFID readers that record the data from each cow as they enter and are milked. Then we went out and saw all the calves that are bottle raised and will be used as replacement cows as they get older and are ready to join the milk string. Of course everyone loved them! We went on to see the swine unit which houses 30 sows with their largest market for the babies being project hogs for local 4-H and FFA kids. Next we saw the sheep unit where they raise Southdowns, Suffolk, and Hampshires all again which are bred and raised for market or breeding animal youth projects. Lastly we explored the beef unit where we learned about their past partnership with Sierra Nevada Brewery which demonstrated the importance of networking as well as saw their current production feed experiment and the technology associated with it.

After our fun with the livestock units, we joined a Plant Science 101 lab and were able to see hands on how a college laboratory goes. The students jumped right in and joined the lab groups which were testing the nitrogen levels in soil between two different test groups, one with an additive and one that was a control.

Lastly, we headed over to the main campus for a quick lunch in the dining hall, followed by a brief tour of campus. I can not thank Chico State enough for this opportunity to showcase the school to our FARMS Advanced students!

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!