A Berry Good Day

FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | May 16, 2019

Location of Field Day
Red Bluff, CA

Field Day Host
Melissa Macfarlane
Shannon Lambert
Chris Hunter

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

Theme
Technology

Summary of the Day:
To wrap up the Tehama County FARMS Leadership year, we were treated to a “berry good day” at Driscoll’s. Students arrived eager to pick and eat strawberries straight from the field. Little did they know that at the Red Bluff Driscoll’s nursery location, it is just that….a nursery. Their focus is growing the plants that will then get shipped to growers all over the world, who then plant them in fields to grow berries for our eating. However, in true Driscoll’s fashion, breakfast consisted of platters of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries with yogurt and granola to enjoy the best parfait’s they ever have had.

Melissa Macfarlane welcomed us with a great presentation about Driscoll’s as a company and explained just what they did at their nursery and why it is so important. Students learned the difference between a “sibling” and a “clone” as well as why it was necessary for the farmers to be planting clones and not siblings. She then turned it over to Chris, who gave a presentation on “mapping” and the technology that is associated with it. He went over: What is a map? The difference between a geographical map and position map and then introduced the students to what our hands on tasks would be for the day once we broke up into 3 groups.

Each group explored a different job that takes place at the nursery. One group went out into the field and learned what goes into planning how many plants a farmer is going to need and just how to go about planting and multiplying those plants on the nursery level. Another group spent their time in “the office” learning all that goes into mapping from the computer level and the importance of data collection in the field being entered into their system correctly. They also had the opportunity to identify a problem, and learn the procedure for correcting the problem and communicating with other staff the changes that were made and corrections that needed to take place out in the nursery. The last group went out to one of the screen-houses and did a map check validation. They were shown how the plants are planted into bins and then maintained to allow for optimal growth of daughter plants. Then they were given a map which they needed to review and check that the information printed was actually what was physically in the screen-house. They did such an excellent job and found 4 corrections that needed to be made.

Once we all gathered again, the groups took time to prepare a power point presentation to share with their fellow FARMS members what they learned and why it was important. This entire field day was fabulous at showing the importance of technology and how high tech farming is. Each student was encouraged to continue to expand their computer skills and knowledge throughout their education because agriculture as an industry is very progressive and continues to grow with our times.

Integrated Pest Management at Cassin Ranch

FARMS Advanced | Monterey and Santa Cruz | October 28, 2019

School(s) Participating: Soledad High School

Location(s) of Field Day:

Cassin Ranch, 151 Silliman Rd. Watsonville, Ca. 95076

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Driscoll’s

  • Cristal Verduzco – Sr. Forecasting Manager Berries & FARMS Alumni
  • John Siletto – Main Speaker
  • Diego Nieto – Staff Scientist in Entomology
  • Micheal Moore – Director of Quality Operations
  • Fred Cook – Plant Pathology Research and Development
  • Gavin Sills – Breeding
  • Jenny Broome – Sr. Research Manager Global Plant Health
  • Ahna Miller – GIS Planning Analyst
  • Miranda Ganci – Plant Pathology Research Associate
  • Kelly Ivors – Plant Pathology
  • Kyle Rak – Plant Breeding

ParaBug

  • Chandler Bennett – Owner and Founder
  • Kevin Hill – ParaBug Pilot

Summary of the Day

The day begins with a waffle breakfast with lots of beautiful Driscoll’s berries at Cassin Ranch. Students participate in a quick icebreaker and I introduce our host and FARMS Alumni Cristal Verduzco who is the Senior Raspberry Forecaster for Driscoll’s. We do an activity with students to gauge what their understanding of Integrated Pest Management is. Student’s ideas were surprisingly really close.

“I believe that Integrated Pest Management is when you create an artificial ecosystem to eliminate any unwanted item in the plant without the use of pesticides.” – Aaron Arriago

Dr. Kelly Ivors who is very knowledgeable in IPM helped us learn more. Aaron was surprised to discover that integrated pest management still uses pesticides but does so as a last resort. Dr. Ivors also introduced the term P.C.A. or pest control advisor which plays a huge role in pest management because they offer growers advice on the pests they find and recommend the best ways to eliminate the pests. The discussion led to a talk about student’s plans after high school. Both Cristal and Dr. Ivors share their stories and offered some sound advice to students. It was a very casual and informative discussion.

John Silleto came by and talked to students about Driscoll’s as a company and touch on the values and the history of Driscoll’s. John was very open about some of the challenges they face as an international organization and encouraged students to go to college so they can help with some of those challenges. FARMS Advanced students asked questions and were very professional during the presentation.

From there we went into the labs with Diego Nieto to see pests and dissect bugs to see if they had parasites in them. It was very shocking to see a bug ripped apart on a magnified screen. It was a first for all of us.  After mutilating bugs we stepped outside with Kyle Rak to learn about his work in the raspberry test fields. In the background, Kevin Hill and Chandler Bennet prepped their ParaBug Drone for a demonstration.

In integrated pest management, one step to fighting pests is biological control and Chandler created a business that focusses on biological control by spreading predatory insects to fight crop-damaging pests. Students helped load the chamber with bugs and Kevin marked out a flight path and sent the drone to work. Meanwhile, students learned about how ParaBug started and asked many questions about what he does as a business owner and operator. It is hard to believe but we still had time to squeeze in one more activity before lunch.

We headed back to the lab, this time the plant pathology lab with Dr. Ivors and Miranda Ganci. Students put on their lab coats and helped investigate and diagnose a sick raspberry plant. The smashed pieces of the plant to a pulp so they could test for a specific phytophthora enzyme. The hands-on experience and support from professionals in the lab made students consider plant pathology as a potential career path.

Back at the conference room, Cristal Verduzco had lunch and a panel of Driscoll’s employees waiting to share their career pathways and open up about life challenges and successes. Students shared their plans for the future and panelist were very impressed by their public speaking skills, confidence, and professionalism to slow things down we took a trip to the lawn to take some group photos with employees and students. Then it was back inside for a discussion on GIS or geographic information systems with Ahna Miller. Ahna’s career pathway was interesting to hear and her sense of humor and fun energy captured students attention.

“ My favorite activity was the labs. I am really interested in Dr. Ivor’s career. I [also] learned more about how drones are used in Ag.” – Diana Mendoza