We are Back In-Person with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County

FARMS Advanced |Central Coast Region | Sept 23, 2021

Location(s) of Field Day:
Farm Bureau of Monterey County and ALBA

Participating Schools from Monterey & Santa Cruz Region:
Alisal High School (virtual)
Gonzalez High School (in-person)

Field Day Hosts and Mentors:
Jacob Dixon – FARMS Alumni and Senior at Cal Poly
Juan Perez – FARMS Alumni and Senior at Cal Poly
Laura Murphy – Soil Scientist with the RCD of Monterey County
Paul Robins – Executive Director of the RCD of Monterey County
Megan Barker – RCD of Monterey County
Mary Kimball – CEO of the Center for Land-Based Learning
Andrea Tinajero – ALBA
Norm Groot – Monterey County Farm Bureau


Theme: What can Resource Conservation Districts do to create a more inclusive dialogue about conservation work?

Summary of the Day:  It feels so good to be back in-person with students. The Advanced Cohort had the pleasure of kicking off the year! Since the Advanced students are our second year students their field days are a bit more involved and require professionalizm, critical thinking and a willingness to step out of their comfort zones just a bit.

Advanced begins early in the morning as I pick up students. This is the first time we are meeting face to face. Their leadership year was entirly online. After pick up we head to the Monterey County Farm Bureau and we have some brealfast. We are luck to have Mary Kimball joining us from Woodland. We begin with an icebreaker and students stand and introduce themselves with confidence and assertiveness. We invite Norm Groot to join us for our morning icebreaker, Two Truths and a Lie. We all learn so much about each other from this excersice it is a lot of fun! Norm Groot took the floor and shared his career pathway, the history of Farm Bureaus’ and what they do to support farmers and the Ag industry.

From there Megan signed us on to zoom and we met with Alisal HS students and FARMS Alumni, Juan Perez and Jacob Dixon. Both Jacob and Juan participate in the RCD Speak-off Contest when they were in the FARMS program. They shared their experience with students and gave them pointers on public speaking and speech writing. Jacob encouraged students that the speak-off judges only want to help and be supportive and students should not be nervous or afraid of them. Juan let students know that when it comes to writing a speech the key is starting early so you can have time to revise, practice and then revise & practice again. Next we discussed the speak-off contest and the speech prompt for this year.

Speak -Off Topic

“What can Resource Conservation Districts do to help create a more inclusive dialogue about conservation work?”

the Californina Association of RCD’s

The topic is not an easy one by any means and it required quite a bit of dicussion. I took notes as we broke down the topic and defined key words like “enclusive dialogue” .

It was time to head out to ALBA to meet some farmers and eat some lunch. After lunch we gave students the opportunity to discover how the RCD of Monterey County engages farmers in dialogue. Students where tasked with asking Farmers questions themselves. Some students took it apon themselves to ask their questions in Spanish which was a great way of demonstrating inclusive dialogue. Andrea Tinajero organized an amazing line-up of farmers to meet with students and share honestly and candidly thier experiences as Farmers and business owners.

Here are some of the questions students asked:

  1. What led you to farming?
  2. What resource conservation concerns do you have?
  3. How can you best be reached to have discussions about resource conservation (for example, email, cell phone, in-person visits, etc.)?
  4. Where do you want to have those discussions (for example, over the phone, online, in public meetings, in groups, during 1-on-1 personal visits to your farm, etc.)?

The day ended with a hands on soil sampling and test activity that students did with Farmers in their fields. It was a beautiful day to be in the fields and a perfect day for our first FARMS Advanced Field Day.

Mushrooms in Monterey

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | January 31, 2020

Location(s) of Field Day:
Monterey Mushroom, 77 Maher Rd, Watsonville Ca, 95076

Participating Schools:
Soquel High School
Gonzalez High School

Field Day Hosts and Mentors:
Maritza Acevedo – Quality Assurance Supervisor
Matt Fuller – Quality Assurance Manager

Summary of the Day: 

Monterey Mushroom is a nationally recognized brand for fresh delicious mushrooms. We were so excited to see mushroom production packing and distribution on this scale. The field day began with a mushroom 101 lesson given by Matt Fuller the Quality Assurance Manager. The main event was the tour of the Monterey Mushroom Facility. The facility itself operates like a little city with some staff living on site. Despite the large size of the facility and the huge numbers of employees, Monterey Mushroom has a fantastic company culture where employees are well appreciated and love what they do. They even told us themselves. We met staff members in the mechanical department that have been working there for decades fixing the machines and vehicles that support the large operation. After students were able to see the mushroom operation from the substrate to harvest, students were able to harvest mushrooms for themselves. 

The afternoon finished with a talk with staff in different departments about their jobs. It was especially interesting to learn about how the different departments support each other and work together. We spoke with folks in the sales department and they talked about their role in selling the product and keeping customers informed on their orders. We talked to folks in customer service who shared how they use their listening skills to support the customer’s needs and challenges with their product. We talked to employees that were hired right out of high school and those who help 4-year degrees. It was an informative visit to Monterey Mushroom and both students and teachers enjoyed their visit.

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