5 Things Every Graduating Ag Senior Must Do Before Graduation

It’s that time of the year again where graduating seniors are counting down the days until graduation. For some, June 14th can’t come soon enough, where others burst into tears just thinking of the weekend. But no matter what your feelings are toward graduating, there is one thing everyone can agree with. These last ten weeks as Cal Poly students have to be EPIC! 

So, here are five things every agriculture student must do before graduating:

1. Go to the Arboretum 

The arboretum is definitely one of those forgotten gems on campus. With all of the sunny days coming our way this quarter, make sure you move your studying from the dreary library to the green grass of the arboretum. All you have on your schedule this quarter is bowling and tractor driving? No problem, head out to the arboretum with the friends you’ll miss the most after graduation.  

2. Eat a Pint of Cal Poly Ice Cream Every Week

While you’re at it, try every flavor available. Enough said. 

3. Tractor Pull

Next weekend is the infamous Cal Poly Open House. Amongst other great activities, is the Cal Poly Tractor Pull. Without trying to get too mushy, this is the last Tractor Pull you will ever see as a Cal Poly student! Sure, you’ll come back as an alumni…but unfortunately, it’ll never be the same! 

4. Take a selfie with a Cal Poly Calf

I think they call this a “felfie” aka #farmselfie. Try it, give it a filter and make your non Cal Poly friends jealous.

5. And finally, the holy grail of all selfies, you just have to take a selfie with President Armstrong

Check out Agricultural Communications sophomore, Katie Roberti’s #winning selfie with President Armstrong himself. It is possible folks. You will be the envy of all your friends, believe me. Image

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Cal Poly Hosts 26 Hours

Written By: Angelica Aldana

26 Hours

Just last week, Cal Poly hosted 86 high school students from across California. Aside from the regular tour of campus, these students engaged in hands-on workshops, listened to motivational words from faculty members and discovered the vast array of opportunities that lie within the agriculture industry and Cal Poly.

What is 26 Hours?

26 Hours, a program that originated from a senior project 26 years ago, has grown into a highly anticipated event for students who wish to attend a four year university, such as Cal Poly. A planning team comprised of Cal Poly students worked closely with Dr. Flores as they prepared for the arrival of students from the following high schools: Gonzales, King City, Soledad, Everett Alvarez, Santa Paula, Hanford, Sierra Pacific, Hanford West, Carpinteria and All Tribes.

Day One

On day one of the events, attendees dove right into a hands-on experience with Dr. Sabol as they learned how to graft apple trees. When asked what his favorite part of the day was, Hector Lopez, of Gonzales High School, explained that he was “excited to take home an [apple] tree” he helped graft. Following the fun of grafting, students participated in a series of Learn by Doing workshops that were facilitated by Cal Poly’s very own faculty members and students. These workshops included the “ABC’s of Fire Suppression” with Dr. Kellogg, “Don’t be Shy: Interviewing Skills” with Dr. Delay, and “Fruit and Fun in HCS” with a group of students from the Horticulture Department. After students had the opportunity to dip their feet into agriculture, they heard the impacting words of Ms. Maria Arvizu- Rodriguez, an academic counselor for EOP and Student Academic Services. Her words emphasized the fact that college is possible, no matter your race, background or challenges.

Day Two

Participants experienced downtown San Luis Obispo before returning the next morning where they had the opportunity to ask a panel of five undergraduate students about their experiences so far as a Mustang. With three more Learn by Doing workshops, students learned about the anatomy of an egg, secrets of soil science and horsepower with Dr. Spiller, Dr. Appel and a group of BRAE (Bio Resource Agricultural Engineering)  students. Over lunch, Dr. Appel spread an encouraging message to students about the value of a college education.

Why 26 Hours?

Many participants may or may not have had experience with agriculture. Regardless of their prior knowledge, each participant of the program learned something new about the industry and had the chance to tap into their potential as a future Mustang. Gonzales agriculture advisor, Eric Morasca, acknowledged the benefits of 26 Hours. “Students get the chance to really see what Cal Poly has to offer through a hand-on experience. They begin to think, ‘I can and should go to college,’” he said. Morasca highlighted that students who will become first-generation college students are exposed to the ample amounts of assistance and guidance provided by Cal Poly faculty. Dr. Kellogg, Department Head of Agricultural Education and Communication, enjoys the fact that 26 Hours is “an excellent opportunity for students to discover careers in agriculture since they have expanded their understanding of what agriculture is.” Kellogg also expressed the value of utilizing a college campus setting to host an event like this.

The participants of this year’s 26 Hours went back to their home towns more educated about agriculture, hopeful for bright futures, and excited for their future endeavors as a college student.

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Ag Circle Photo Contest

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Ag. Outreach Day

Written By: Giuliana Marchini

Where were you on March 3rd between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.? If you were on Cal Poly’s campus promoting the agriculture industry at Ag. Outreach Day, then we were in the same place! Students at Cal Poly get to experience agriculture in action on any given day, but they were all given a special opportunity to learn more about the industry last Monday on Dexter lawn.

With more than 25 booths set up for passerby’s to stop and learn at, the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) had a booth that was hard to pass up. Students were encouraged to stop and ask questions they had about agriculture, and the ACT members present answered them to the best of their abilities. They were also offered a sheet full of QR codes that would take them to websites focused on news in agriculture, as well as an issue of the latest AgAlert.

You can see some of the questions students asked at Ag. Outreach Day (and our answers to them!) below. Check them out so that, you too, can become more informed about the most important industry in the world.

Is the drought real?
As much as I wish it wasn’t, the answer to this question is yes. The drought in California is very real, and very serious. This marks the third consecutive dry-year for California, and the farmers are feeling it. Many almond farmers in the Central Valley are having to rip out their trees because there is not enough water to produce a crop, and the trees won’t survive the season with such little water. According to AgAlert, some almond farmers are having to use deficit irrigation. This means they give the trees just enough water to survive to pull through the season, but not enough to produce a crop. Many of these farmers have opted not to grow other crops in order to save their almonds. Cattle ranchers are also feeling the effects of the drought. Many of them have had to reduce their herds because there is no water for their pastures to grow and feeding hay can be costly. So, how is the drought affecting you? Well, besides the fact that you’ll be asked to reduce your water usage (take shorter showers and turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth), you should also expect a significant jolt in food prices. The fact is, we are all in this together, so make sure you’re doing your rain dance!

Does organic mean pesticide free?
Despite popular belief, organic does not necessarily mean pesticide free. As reported by the USDA, produce can be considered organic if it’s been grown on soil that has had no contact with synthetic fertilizers or prohibited pesticides (with a few exceptions) for at least 3 years prior to harvest. That’s not to say that organic farmers don’t use pesticides on their crops, it just means that if they choose to, the pesticides must also be considered organic. For more information on which types of pesticides are prohibited and which are safe to use to be considered certified organic, visit the USDA’s website.

What crops are grown in California?
The better question would be, which crops aren’t grown in California? With over 400 different commodities, California produces almost half of the United States grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. According to the CDFA, California’s top-ten valued commodities include: milk, grapes, almonds, nursery plants, cattle and calves, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay, and tomatoes. Accounting for 11.3 percent of the U.S. cash farm receipts in 2012, The Golden State is truly valuable in crop and food production.

Is raw milk healthier for you?
Drinking raw milk is a choice that more people are making these days. Some see it as a healthier option, and believe that doing so can prevent serious health problems. However, drinking raw milk can actually have the opposite effect on a person, and harbor serious consequences to your health. When milk is raw, it hasn’t been put through the pasteurization process that kills harmful bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli. This process is done by heating the milk up to certain temperature for a certain amount of time. The point is, drinking raw milk is a choice, and if you choose to do so, just be sure to educate yourself on it thoroughly.

Ag. Outreach Day was a huge success for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and for the rest of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Do any of these questions look familiar? Maybe you were one of the students who stopped by our booth and asked it! Questions are an important part of learning, and that’s what we’re all here for, right? If you have any other burning questions about the agriculture industry, don’t be afraid to check out websites like AgAlert, California Farm Bureau, Farm Time Network, or the Animal Agriculture Alliance to keep yourself updated on the latest in agriculture news.

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5 Things We Learned From Sara Quinn

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On February 24, 2014 the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication hosted Ms. Sara Quinn from the Poynter Institute to share her expertise on story telling through multiple platforms and tips for social media.

For those who didn’t get the opportunity to join us that evening, here are 5 lessons we learned from Sara Quinn:

1. Make Google Trends your new BFF

Google Trends is a great way to get free data on nearly any subject. By simply typing key words such as agriculture, drought, etc. you can see graphs of when these items were searched and how they are related. It is the perfect resource if you need data to make graphs or charts.

2. “One of the most creative tools you can have is a cocktail napkin and a pen.”

You absolutely never know when inspiration will hit, so you must always be ready for when that stroke of genius crosses your mind. You never know, the greatest idea might come from a quick doodle on a cocktail napkin.

3. Make your tweets blue.

A tweet amongst a million other tweets could practically go unnoticed. To make sure someone is paying attention to your tweets, Quinn recommends we add a little color to it! By using effective hashtags and mentions to individuals who are connected to the tweet, your 140 characters could be seen by many!

4. Use QR codes in unexpected ways

Those black squiggly squares have been popping up practically everywhere in marketing tools. Quinn recommends finding new ways to use them to promote yourself. Maybe adding a QR code to your resume to link recruiters to a page with even more info about your capabilities.

5. Always ask for the dog’s name

And finally, Quinn reminds us that as writers we need to paint an image of our story to our readers by giving as much detail as possible. The story may not necessarily involve a dog, but it’s this kind of detail that could elevate your story among the rest. So remember, always ask for the dog’s name.

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Saving the Cherished Blue & Gold

Written By: Kenna Lewis, Brock Center Associate Editor

As “National FFA Week” sweeps the nation, images and memories of the blue and gold have dominated social media.

But with the release of Governor Brown’s 2014-2015 budget proposal, and the noticeably missing Agriculture Education Incentive Grant (Ag Incentive Grant), many wonder what the future of FFA programs in California will hold.

Since the inception of the Ag Incentive Grant in 1983, it has provided roughly $4.13 million annually to high school agriculture programs across the state. The funding is made available through matching grants to schools that are going above basic course standards.

In order to receive the funding, chapters are regularly monitored from Local Ag Advisory Committees ensuring that the most innovative and hands on curriculum is being utilized. With such great incentive to constantly improve local programs, California’s FFA membership has grown to over 74,000 students.

For many schools, this is their primary source of funding for various FFA needs, from getting students to and from conferences and contests, to modernizing the chapter’s equipment and technology. This grant is crucial in providing chapters with the tools to educate students on the importance of agriculture, and provide them with out-of-the-classroom experiences to discover what their role in the industry could be.

As California is the leading agriculture producer in the nation, it is imperative the students across the state continue to receive the innovative and vibrant teachings of agriculture education. The negative effects of losing such a grant will not go unnoticed, and now more than ever agriculturists and supporters alike must band together to secure the future of agriculture education.

To learn more about the Agriculture Education Incentive Grant please visit www.calaged.org.

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Presidents in Agriculture

Agriculture is more than just a practice – it’s a tradition.

Agriculture is the engine that powered America’s past and will continue to propel us out of today’s troubles and into a prosperous tomorrow.

From the nation’s earliest days, farming has held a crucial place in the American economy and culture.  Farmers play an important role in any society, of course, but farming has been particularly valued in the United States.  Farmers were and still are seen as exemplifying economic virtues such as hard work, initiative and self-sufficiency.

These characteristics coincidentally also describe our country’s Founding Fathers.  Gardening or faming, was central to their lives, and they were truly the first environmentalists.  They believed independent small-scale farms were the “building blocks” of the nation.

George Washington was always an agricultural pioneer, constantly experimenting with new crops and sophisticated techniques while working to improve his farms.  His post-Revolutionary War rehabilitation of Mount Vernon progressed from simply improving the physicality’s of his plantation to actually reconsidering an entirely new mode of farming.  The estate totaled 8,000 acres and was divided into five farms, each an individual unit.  Small areas were generally cultivated, but were usually restricted to testing new crops and agricultural methods; otherwise most of the individual farms were the focus of intensive agricultural activity.  For a brief time Washington raised tobacco, but soon after, found out it was far too disadvantageous.  He then transitioned to growing wheat, producing grains and food crops.  This shift to farming allowed him to introduce more innovative practices such as crop rotation and intensive plowing.

Thomas Jefferson righteously represented the virtues of a true agrarian life.  As a talented landscape architect and avid gardener, he referred to himself as a farmer by profession, who all the while, searched for more progressive ways to work his plantations.  All “illustrious epicure,” Jefferson grew a vast diversity of gardens, all within his Monticello Garden.  Monticello served as a laboratory for rare plants and vegetables – and lead to new culinary traditions and organic farming methods, too.

Like most Americans of his time, John Adams began life with the heart of a farmer rather than a gardener, but in the course of traveling, he developed an appreciation of ornamental gardens that inspired efforts to imitate many of their features at his own home.  Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts is home to Peacefield – the 40-acre home and farm of president John Adams full of orchard and farmland.  As a farmer, Adams was naturally interested in increasing the fertility of his land via the use of compost.

Today, in light of increasing concern about the environment, a new look at the Founding Fathers can bring light to a future path.  The Founding Fathers’ vision of America, and of farming, was inseparable.  They loved farming and gardening, and planned for an America of farmers.

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