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agcircle |

cal poly, san luis obispo spring 2012

a student publication

inside *

The Water War California’s consistent struggle to meet the needs of water users

Forests in Decay The need for proactive forest management

co n t e n t s

On Campus

05 CAL POLY ENTERPRISE PROJECTS A different kind of learning 06



AG OLYMPICS A new tradition

09 DISNEY NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT A fairy tale experience


10 POLY ROYAL RODEO A piece of Poly Culture

12 THE ROSE FLOAT TRADITION An exercise in collaboration

22 CALIFORNIA FOREST CONSERVATION & MANAGEMENT A call to action for a dire situation


24 HUMANE WATCH Agriculture’s threat


DELLAVALLE LABORATORY, INC. An alumni success story

25 THE WATER WAR The struggle to meet the needs of water users

16 A CAL POLY LOVE STORY Mike and Wendy Hall 18

RODEO COUTURE The Quincy Collection


POTS WITH PIZZAZZ A Dan Lassanske Creation


WAIT, I CAN’T EAT WHAT? The chronicles of two carnivores on a vegan adventure

agcircle Volume 30, Issue 2, Spring 2012 Published three times a year by the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. California Polytechnic State University Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 805.756.6138 Building 10, Room 234 Editor-In-Chief David Jones Faculty Advisor Megan Silcott Associate Editors Leslie Friend Carrie Isaacson Jennifer Ray Lead Graphic Artist David Jones Graphics Team Morgan Dewer Leslie Friend Writers Lori Brown, Peter Delle, Leslie Friend, Morgan Dewer, Joshua Fridlund, Carrie Isaacson, David Jones, Pam Learn, Carolyn Madson, Taylor Pires, Jennifer Ray, Aimee Shaner, Christine Woodman. Submissions to agcircle are welcomed. Permission to Reproduce: All material in this issue may be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. The contents of agcircle are generated by students, and do not reflect the opinions of California Polytechnic State University, its administration or faculty.

N o t e s



pring is in the air. Granted, we live in San Luis Obispo where even winter has a somewhat cozy feel, but the season has arrived nonetheless. Cal Poly students and residents of San Luis Obispo never really get to take part in the stereotypical winter adventures locally, but I’m sure most folks with the 805 area code will agree we’d much rather wear flip flops in December than go ice fishing. The lack of extreme winter is one of the contributing factors to a vast array of agriculture production in this state. From flowers to avocados and citrus fruit to artichokes, there are some pretty awesome things happening in agriculture all around us, and we’re proud to have some phenomenal writers capturing these ideas, moments, innovations and struggles on paper. Speaking of phenomenal... Our beautiful cover shot, taken by Valerie Grant captures a forest stream after a spring storm. In this issue, you’ll find an article about California’s water war and another article about forest conservation and the need for proactive forest management. With the advent of spring (or our slightly warmer version of winter), we announce a significant change at agcircle. David will regrettably be stepping down as Editor-in-Chief to spend time at his new job and we will appoint Carrie Isaacson the big kahuna for the Summer/Fall issue. David will be on hand as our lead graphic artist until his graduation in June.

Don’t forget to submit your photos for our annual photo contest! The photo selected as the winner will grace the cover of the agcircle Summer/Fall issue. Thanks for picking up another issue of our humble magazine. We certainly hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together.

David 4 | Spring 2012





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Cal Poly Enterprise Projects A different kind of learning Story by Aimee Shaner


elevision, trucks and enterprise projects. What do these three things have in common? In 1929, the first picture was successfully transmitted on a television, a factory produced the first Ford truck and Cal Poly began its enterprise program. Cal Poly Enterprises were designed to help students Learn by Doing and have remained an important part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). Even though these projects were introduced more than 75 years ago, enterprises remain vital to the education of many students. These enterprises were originally designed as classes enabling students to spend the morning in class and the afternoon working on projects. Today, activities range from producing and selling chocolates to studying reptiles. “I’d have to say that the Cal Poly enterprises are truly the best at Learn by Doing,” said third year student, Juliana Gomes. During her three years at Cal Poly, Gomes has participated in the foaling, equine nutrition and Thoroughbred enterprises. She believes her time spent in enterprises has strengthened her love for the equine industry and has opened

her eyes to new opportunities. “I’d thoroughly encourage any Cal Poly student to get involved in an enterprise,” Gomes said. Any student, any year, from any major can participate in an enterprise project. More than 40 different enterprises are offered each year and class credit can be earned for participation. The Animal Science, Dairy Science, Food Science and Nutrition, Horticulture and Crop Science and Natural Resource Management and Environmental Sciences departments all offer enterprise projects. Most Cal Poly enterprises do not require any prior experience. Instead, the students learn while they gain experience. Each enterprise is unique, and each helps students develop useful skills applicable to many career interests. “I believe that enterprises provide real world experience in production agriculture without the risk that usually comes with such production,” said Dr. Jeff Wong, the managing professor for the sustainable vegetable and field crop enterprise. “It allows students to experience first-hand the decision-making process and forces them to be problem solvers.

It illustrates the value of strong marketing and gives [students] an opportunity to experience customer relations.” The Bull Test is one of the most popular enterprises on campus. Students conduct performance tests on consigned bulls and follow up by putting the top 60 to 75 percent of the bulls through a sale. Animal Science professor, Mike Hall, has been in charge of the Cal Poly Bull Test for 25 years now and has seen it change and evolve in many ways. Hall helped transform this enterprise from a small class into something larger, allowing more students to participate. He says the biggest difference between when he started this enterprise and today is more students are coming in without prior experience. “There is no other place in the country where students can get so much hands-on experience,” Hall said. Enterprises help students gain the necessary skills to land jobs in fields they desire. More information on enterprises can be found at

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Enterprise spotlight Tomato Mania Story by Pam Learn


omato Mania. This event may be a new term for some, but it’s an annual tradition for many. Cal Poly has held a Tomato Mania event for the past 12 years, offering it as an enterprise project to horticulture students and a weekend of garden delight to the public. Students in the enterprise are in charge of the project from seed to sale. Choosing varieties, growing the young vines and marketing the plants is all part of the course description. This small group of students spends the entire winter quarter planning, troubleshooting and organizing the Tomato Mania event, which takes place in the spring. The enterprise team propagates the plants and sells the garden-ready tomato plants to the public. The event began with the original Cal Poly tomato, the Murray Smith. Named after a popular Cal Poly speech teacher, the Murray

Colton Nauta

Kayla Welcher

Smith was developed at Cal Poly and has always been a popular sell. This is likely because of its vivid color, small seeds and adaptation to California’s central coast climate. Often mislabeled as a vegetable, tomatoes have been considered America’s favorite garden fruit for generations. Tomato Mania attracts many garden enthusiasts featuring plants that are anything but ordinary. While traditional heirloom tomatoes and other varieties can be found, many hybrid varieties ranging in color from purple to orange are available for purchase. These are not your normal grocery store varietals. Besides color, these varieties are known for their exquisite taste and texture. This year, students have chosen many new varieties and past customer favorites to sell. Early Girl, Red Zebra, Better Boy, Bloody Butcher, Black Krim and the Murray Smith are

Austin Brown-Silva

Sarah Stafford

Kris Rickard

just a snapshot of the 75 different varieties for sale at this year’s event. “The average person buys about four or five [plants] because we have so many unique varieties and they want to try as many as they can,” said Jeffrey Hillman, Environmental Horticulture Science major and Tomato Mania enterprise project member. Tomatoes are sold for six dollars a plant and enterprise students are known to profit even after their expenses are paid. The strong community support for Cal Poly and the Tomato Mania following make for a great turnout at the sale. Tomato season begins in spring and carries through the summer months. This year, customers can support this unique enterprise on April 21, at the Poly Plant Shop on campus.

Jack Baird

Issac Parrish

Fueling the Future of American Agriculture 6 | Spring 2012

75 Prado Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401



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Ag Olympics Story by Leslie Friend


n the spirit of the upcoming Summer Olympics, Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) held its own version of the 2012 Games. The first “Ag Olympics” took place January 21 in the campus Farm Shop. Although Michael Phelps didn’t appear, the shop was filled with Olympic athletes. Clubs from CAFES formed 11 teams of four members each, all trained and ready to engage in the fierce competition. The Young Cattleman’s Club proudly walked away with the championship title.

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Clockwise from top left: First, Second and Third Place teams on the Olympic podium; Dairy Club team members; RPTA Club team members; Ag Council members and Dean Wehner.

The Agriculture Council sponsored and facilitated the Ag Olympics in an effort to increase club involvement and provide a fun activity for members. After numerous planning meetings and hours of preparation, the council representatives and officer team hosted a successful day of games, barbeque and awards. The decorations committee transformed the Farm Shop into an Olympic arena. The scene was complete with an Olympic champion podium, comprised of varied levels of hay bales. Signs for each event hung from the ceiling and cookies wrapped in gold, silver and bronze foil hung from Olympic lanyards and were distributed to participants. As teams gathered in the building, the Ag Council officers gave a short welcome and sounded the horn, signaling the start of the games. Charged with developing the main events, the Ag Council came up with a hay bucking contest, fruit catapult, flip carton, farmer’s relay race and a quiz bowl. The competing teams were tested physically and mentally as they worked to win medals for each individual game, as well as the grand prize trophy: a golden shovel. “The council representatives worked tirelessly these past few weeks to ensure that the clubs truly had fun,” said Ag Council President, Kate

8 | Spring 2012

Tscharner. “There’s not much more you can ask than to have students who really enjoy being involved show up to compete.” Involvement did not stop with the council or the club members. The Dean of CAFES, Dr. David Wehner, played a vital role in the success of Ag Olympics. “Our team felt that this event, though a great idea, would need ample support to make it a reality,” Tscharner said. “Dean Wehner lent the encouragement we needed and even helped design our most popular event, the fruit catapult. We are fortunate to have a leader like Dean Wehner that actively participates in the events held by our college.” The Ag Olympics is designed to grow as the years progress. This first year proved to be a success and the Ag Council officers hope it becomes a new tradition for CAFES. In the years to come, the plan is to increase exposure to the college and encourage all students to compete, rather than just those belonging to clubs. “We are so excited people enjoyed themselves,” Tscharner said. “We look forward to seeing how the future Ag Council teams pursue this growth opportunity for club involvement.”


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Disney New Product Development A Fairytale Experience Story by Lori Brown


eah, I think we have a good shot this year,” said third year Food Science student Kathleen Phi. “[UC] Davis is usually pretty good, but I feel good about our product this year.” Phi is one of seven members of Cal Poly’s New Product Development team. This team of dedicated students will compete in the Disney-sponsored Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) Product Development competition. IFTSA is a professional organization of food science students from across the nation that provides competitions, awards, scholarships and networking opportunities for students. The goal of the Disney competition is to manufacture and pitch a market-relevant food or beverage, targeted at children ages 10 and younger. The product also has to incorporate a fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy product, or whole grain, and must include a Disney character. This year’s team developed Sweet Potangled Pretzels, inspired by Disney’s recent Rapunzel movie, Tangled. The product is made using sweet potatoes. The competition allows the team to be creative and provides valuable experience in the food technology field. “The contest involves all levels of the food industry,” Phi said. “Students come up with the idea, develop the marketing, do cost analysis, project processing and make the actual product. One of the most fun aspects of the competition is it’s Disney-themed.”

One of the areas of the contest includes a written proposal. This paper covers a wide variety of information including product description and formulation, nutritional value, product preparation directions, shelf life estimates, appeal and relevance to children, product novelty, marketing plans, a competitive framework and sensory tests. To add to the level of difficulty, all of this must be addressed in less than three pages. “Coming up with the product was the easy part; the proposal paper is really a pain,” said returning team member, Adam Yee. Food Science and Nutrition Department Head, Dr. Gour Choudhury, sees this competition as a great embodiment of the whole industry. “Food science is an applied science,” Choudhury said. “It combines food chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology and nutrition, and students must bring this all together in their field. This competition is very important. It teaches students real-life training, this is what they will be doing when they enter their jobs.’’ If the team is successful in the preliminary round, they will advance to the finals held at the International Food Technologists (IFT) annual meeting this June in Las Vegas. If they advance to the finals, each team member will earn bragging rights, $1,000 and a paid trip to Las Vegas for the annual meeting. This year’s team includes students with a variety of experience levels. There are several

returning students from last year’s team as well as some new faces. Although this year’s team consists only of food science students, Phi hopes to see some change in the future. “This is such a great opportunity to gain real-world experience,” she said. “I am hoping to expand the team to include students from Agribusiness or Agricultural Communications to become more involved in the marketing aspect.” Phi first became involved in this team as a freshman. “I was curious about product development,” she said. “It’s such a huge part of food science and I was really looking to experience more in this area. And it’s fun!” In addition to the knowledge gained, being involved in this team provides other great experiences. “It’s a great way to network,” Phi said. “I get the opportunity to attend conferences and expositions and meet people from the industry, and I get to know my peers better.” Dr. Choudhury also recognizes the value in students working together. “This competition requires teamwork,” Choudhury said. “It builds team players. That’s what you do in the real world, you work in teams. Sometimes teams work well together and sometimes they don’t. Our students on this team will learn the importance of teamwork.” agcircle | 9


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Tayl o 267 r McDo Just in -1 nald rid ing 978

10 | Spring 2012

Larry Ferguson calf roping - 1971

Poly Royal Rodeo A PIEce of poly culture Story by Jennifer Ray and Morgan Dewar


al Poly is home to many one-of-a-kind events and activities. One of the most notable, with regard to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, is Open House. Known by many as Poly Royal, this annual event celebrates Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing mentality and the bond between university and community. The roots of Poly Royal date back to the birth of Cal Poly and began as an event called the Farmers’ Institute and Basket Picnic. In 1904, Cal Poly welcomed 200 visitors for its first campus showcase picnic, forging a new tradition. This annual event quickly gained popularity among students and community members alike. A 1908 Biennial Report noted the Farmers’ Institute was “an opportunity for ‘extension work’ in agricultural education among the residents of a large community.” By 1913 the event had grown to accommodate more than 3,000 people. The ritual faded away in the 1920s only to return in the 1930s with a new name. The first annual Poly Royal was March 31, 1933. The event was referred to as the “Poly Royal Agriculture Show.” Highlights of the royal included a stock parade,

horticulture judging, shop tours, a baseball game, barbeque lunch and a dance. Following the success of the first event, the second annual Poly Royal became a two-day celebration. The attractions and events expanded to include new activities like cow-milking contests, nail-driving competitions, milk can rolls and the ever-popular tractor pull. Today, one of the most popular and treasured Open House attractions is the student rodeo. The Poly Royal Rodeo began in 1940, before the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) had even formed, making it the longest-running collegiate rodeo in the United States. The Poly Royal Rodeo currently hosts nine events: saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping. There are about 140 contestants, 35 on the Cal Poly team. This year the rodeo takes place on Friday, April 13 at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 at 5:00 p.m. History recorded by the University Archives. Photos provided by Cal Poly University Archives.

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The Rose Float Tradition An exercise in collaboration Story by Carrie Isaacson


anuary 1: A day full of resolutions and fresh starts. Traditionally, this day has also included some much needed couch time and college football. While this may be the status quo for most of us, the students responsible for the design, construction and decoration of the Cal Poly Rose Float had an entirely different New Year’s experience. Since 1949, students from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly, Pomona have worked year-round to produce award-winning floats for the traditional Rose Parade. Students spend 15 months working on a concept, designing, building and decorating the float. The San Luis Obispo design team meets with the Pomona team four times during the early spring to finalize design and divide up responsibilities. After the design is finalized in March, the team gets to work building the pieces and obtaining the flowers that will decorate the float. Students are also responsible for securing all the flowers, seeds and rice they will need for decorating the float. This year’s float, titled “To The Rescue,” used only California flowers, and was one of only two floats in the parade to do so. The students worked closely with the California Cut Flower Commission to ensure all flowers on the float were California

12 | Spring 2012

grown. Both Pomona and San Luis Obispo teams have their own flower fields, which provide some of the flowers, but certainly not enough to decorate the entire float. “At one time we were able to grow all the flowers we would need,” said Kathryn Bohn, the student program coordinator for the Rose Float. “The scope of the float evolved and became much larger, so it was no longer an option to grow our own flowers.” Cal Poly doesn’t just participate in the Rose Parade—they win at the Rose Parade. For the past four years, the Cal Poly float has won the Viewer’s Choice award, something no other float has accomplished. “The joke is that if we win it a fifth year, we’ll get kicked out of the category and they’ll rename the award after us,” said Jessica Brough, design team member. Winning the Viewer’s Choice award has helped to ensure a Cal Poly float is in the parade each year. The Rose Parade Committee must invite each float each year and there are no real guarantees. Invitations are given sometime in January, toward the end of the month, which has caused Cal Poly to sweat a few times.

“There have been years when we weren’t sure we would be invited,” Bohn said. Even with all the worry, Cal Poly has been in the Rose Parade for the past 63 years. The students at both campuses work on the float year-round, but everything kicks into high gear during December. After the San Luis Obispo portion is transported to Pomona at the end of October, construction begins. Around mid-December, the design crew begins to wrap up all the details before the flowers are added. Starting December 26, the decoration process becomes a 24-hour-a-day operation, based at the Pomona campus. Flower decoration takes place from seven in the morning until midnight, only stopping so the construction team can come in from midnight to seven in the morning to finish up the structure. This grueling schedule continues until noon on December 31, when judging takes place. The float must also be taken from the Pomona campus to Pasadena. The usual 30-minute drive takes upwards of six hours, since driving at normal freeway speeds would cause the float to fall apart. Even with all the work and stress, the students love every moment. “It’s chaotic, we’re panicking, but it always ends well,” Bohn said. Program Coordinator, Nicolas Hellewell, finds it most satisfying when he sees the float drive past the TV cameras before millions of people. “When you see that float and you realize that it was built by a group of volunteer college students, and they are successfully competing against professional float builders and earning awards, that is something special,” Hellewell said. The Rose Float team is always looking for volunteers and new ideas. If you want to be a part of this tradition, stop by the Rose Float Office, located on the first floor of the University Union.

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Here is the story:

Agriculture 2.2 97% FARMER


{ } Of those,

are family owned.

million agribusinesses.



feeds 157 people As productivity increases, SO DO TECHNIQUES FOR SUSTAINING RESOURCES




Help tell the story of agriculture and write for


ALL > TO FEED the growing <

In the past 20 years, soil erosion has been reduced by 43%

And many crops have increased water conservation up to 80%



Sources: USDA, U.S. Census Bureau, United States Department of Agriculture Research Center, American Farm Bureau Federation, Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, CropLife America, Corn and Soybean Digest 14 | Spring 2012

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Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc An alumni success story Story by Joshua Fridlund


rom the outside, it may not appear to be anything important—just a simple, plain metal building. However, this building, located in Kingsburg, Calif., is home to one of the leading agricultural consulting companies in the state. Cal Poly alumnus, Nat Dellavalle, helped found Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. in 1978 to assist growers with fertilizer applications, soil management and other agricultural management decisions. Nat Dellavalle joined forces with fellow owners Phillip Dodd, Hugh Rathbun, Keith Backman and Katheryn Graham and launched Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. with just 13 employees in total. Nat is the primary owner of the laboratory. After graduating from Cal Poly in 1961 with a degree in soil science, Dellavalle began his career as an agronomist for a ranch in the Mendota area. “I learned my craft there and recognized its value for farmers,” Dellavalle said. Four years later, he began pursuing the

idea of his own company. After ten years in the works, Dellavalle and several colleagues purchased a laboratory and the rest is history. From the start, this laboratory has specialized in the analysis of soil, water and plant tissue samples with emphasis on providing help to agriculturalists. The company employs highly trained field samplers, lab technicians and quality control specialists to ensure the accuracy of their tests. The lab also utilizes a variety of soil management and plant nutrition consultants to interpret and explain the results to customers. While the laboratory primarily serves California customers, they also do business with companies around the world. They are committed to quality and earn national certifications annually to maintain the integrity of their tests. Dellavalle attributes his success in founding and running the company to his Cal Poly education. Classes in agronomy, soil science and

chemistry provided the background necessary to thrive in the agricultural consulting business, while farm management and economic classes supplied his sound business sense. He considers the creation of his laboratory to be his greatest accomplishment. Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. is one of the largest environmental consulting agencies of its kind in California. Dellavalle says the most satisfying part is providing farmers with the information they need to be more profitable and introducing young people to the field. Dellavalle enjoys providing skills and training for those who are just getting started, and offers this advice: “First, work in a discipline you enjoy. Second, understand the fundamentals. That is different than knowing the fundamentals. Then, do a good job for your client, customer or employer. Don’t worry about your compensation; if you do a good job compensation will follow.”

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a Cal Poly

Love Story Mike & Wendy Hall Story by Carolyn Madson

16 | Spring 2012


love of Cal Poly is one that we all come by in our own unique way. Maybe your family has a history of attendance, perhaps you have found community here within our student body or maybe it’s your affinity for the gorgeous San Luis Obispo area that has you hooked. However you have come by your love for this wonderful place, there is no denying that Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences has a long-standing history of attracting strings of siblings, family legacies and creating the relationships that allow for such possibilities. This year marks the retirement of Mike and Wendy Hall—a couple that embodies the idea of the Cal Poly family. The Halls have been a part of Cal Poly agriculture since their time here as students in the 1970s. Whether it was with the Livestock Judging Team of ’72 or this year’s 28th Annual Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show, the couple’s involvement at Cal Poly has led to the growth of students, the betterment of programs and a marriage that has flourished here in the San Luis Obispo area. Wendy Gauld was raised in Santa Ynez on a family farming and stocker cattle operation, while Mike grew up in Turlock on his family’s Shorthorn and Jersey ranch. Their backgrounds in agriculture and love for the industry led them to pursue educations in agriculture education and animal science at Cal Poly, where they first met. “She was a freshman and I was senior,” Mike said. “She was on the Feedlot Enterprise, where I was the supervisor.” Following graduation, Mike and Wendy went their separate ways, but the foundation for a 20-year friendship had been formed. Wendy taught high school agriculture in Redding, Calif., while Mike finished up his master’s in animal genetics and breeding at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. The two

reconnected when Wendy returned to Cal Poly for her master’s degree and Mike took a position with the Animal Science Department. “I started just after the ‘old’ Mike Hall left the University,” Mike says with a smile. “He was no relation to me, but the story was that Cal Poly was too cheap to buy a new name tag for the door, so they hired me.” After a 20-year long friendship, Mike and Wendy married in May of 1992. Since then, the duo has developed quite the record at Cal Poly. Wendy has lectured since 1993 focusing on the livestock fitting classes and Cal Poly’s Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show, a program that she took over in 1997 to allow Mike to focus on other school projects. “I have been with Bonanza ever since. I was the first photographer in 1985 and still am 27 years later,” Wendy laughed. Bonanza has grown from its initial status as a student’s senior project in 1985 to a five-ring show that is the largest of its kind in the Western United States. Last year, the show boasted more than 450 exhibitors, a roster of nearly 2,000 animal entries and a total exhibitor payout of $45,000. Three-year veteran of Western Bonanza and Sponsorship Committee Chair, Lauren Reeves, attributes much of the show’s growth to Wendy’s style of leadership. “Wendy truly cares about the people in this program,” Reeves said. “She has a special knack for knowing when to quit going ‘by the book’ and let students’ creativity take off.” As a professor and senior beef specialist in the Animal Science Department, Mike has overseen numerous enterprise projects and units including Cal Poly’s Bull Test and Sale, the artificial insemination enterprise, and the heifer calving enterprise. The Bull Test program is in its 56th year and features one of the most successful sales in the Western United States.

The project allows owners to receive detailed, cutting-edge technology about the performance of the bulls while giving students valuable, real-world experience. In 2011, more than 60 students participated in the six-month process of caring for, testing and eventually selling 127 bulls. “I love seeing students who want to learn and become involved outside of the classroom,” Mike said. “If we can show them the ropes and give them the tools to be successful, production agriculture will continue to succeed.” The work Mike and Wendy have put into Cal Poly has helped the College to evolve, just as their time here has shaped their relationship together. Two decades of commitment to the university gave them a solid foundation upon which to base their life with each other. “Being best friends first makes for a longlasting marriage,” Wendy said. After this school year, Mike looks forward to being the president of the American Limousine Association. Wendy plans to continue with her livestock photography business, Cowfoto, and may take on some event planning. “Getting used to not going to school every day will be a big adjustment for both of us,” Wendy said. As their careers at Cal Poly come to a close, there is no doubt the Halls’ presence will always echo in the halls of the agriculture building on campus. The rippling effects of their hard work will be forever felt in the programs they have built, the student lives they have influenced, and the industry that they represent. Cal Poly has grown with the love these two people have for one another and the place that has housed it for so long. “They have dedicated their entire lives to the University and the education of students,” said Aaron Lazanoff, Cal Poly’s beef operations manager and a Hall family friend. “Their shoes sure are going to be hard to fill.”

Mike and Wendy pictured with former Bonanza committee chairs and managers.

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couture The Quincy Collection

Story by David Jones Photos by Elly Jo Photography

18 | Spring 2012


eet Quincy. She’s an agriculture science major, captain of the Cal Poly Woman’s Rodeo Team and an independent contract designer for Ariat International, one of the leading producers of English and Western footwear and apparel in the world. Oh, and not to mention she’s a full-time student. Not only is Quincy a designer with a unique western flair, but the ranching and rodeo life is in her blood. She was born into a family with a rich farming and ranching history. Her mother is a descendant of one of the original ranching families in Nevada and her father stems from a long line of rodeo cowboys and is currently a cattle rancher and online cattle trading innovator. For Quincy, rodeo isn’t just tradition but “a way of life.” “While I had been around rodeo my entire life, I never competed until high school,” Quincy says. “I had the chance to compete in the California High School Rodeo Association, that’s where I fell in love with competing, and the rest is history.” As your typical cowgirl, Quincy has had more cowboy boots in her life than she can count. “I noticed at rodeos that the fashion style was traditional and nothing stood out in the crowd,” she says. “I wanted to challenge that

traditional look with a combination of tradition and mainstream fashion.” So Quincy began to combine her love of rodeo with her flair for art and fashion, and started painting her leather belts and horse tack with unique designs inspired by her Spanish heritage, tattoo art, and daily western life. “My family is a huge inspiration,” Quincy says. “My mother is very artistic and my Nana (who I named one of my boots after, Rodeo Rosita) had just finished art school when she fell in love with my Papa—a Nevada cowboy. I guess you could say I get my artistic eye from her and my love of rodeo from him.” During the summer of her senior year in high school, Quincy competed at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington, New Mexico. This event brings together the top four competitors in each rodeo event from every state to compete for the national titles. This is where Ariat first noticed Quincy. “I was lucky enough to be noticed [by Ariat] for my unique style,” she recalls. “A few short months later I was given an opportunity of a lifetime to design my very own line of boots, belts and clothing dubbed the Quincy Collection. I began working on the first collection my freshman year at Cal Poly, and after the lengthy 18-month process, it launched to consumers in Fall 2011.

“When I was given the opportunity to design my very own line, I wanted boots that were fun, youthful and different, but something you could also ride and be comfortable in.” Quincy has a new line of Ariat boots ready to launch this fall and is currently working on her line for Fall 2013. “I would love to continue working in the western fashion industry after graduation,” Quincy says. “This experience with Ariat has opened my eyes to a fascinating, fun and creative industry that is constantly trying to provide the best western wear to an American tradition close to my heart—ranching, cowboys and rodeo!” Quincy is humbled by the opportunity to work with Ariat, but recognizes the importance of obtaining her degree. “It’s the rodeo lifestyle and my passion for art and fashion that got me noticed and has given me a start, but it’s my Cal Poly degree that’s going to get me to the finish line,” Quincy says. Coupled with a strong educational foundation, Quincy believes no dream is out of reach. “Find what it is you are passionate about and pursue that as a career,” she says excitedly. “Don’t be afraid to stand up or stand out in the crowd. It worked for me!”

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Pots with pizzazz A Dan Lassanske Creation Story by Jennifer Ray Photos by Christine Woodman

20 | Spring 2012


an Lassanske is a horticulture encyclopedia. Name a common plant and he will rattle off a tremendous amount of information. He will demonstrate how to plant, prune and propagate the plant and will probably spell out the scientific name. He might even share a recipe or two. However, he doesn’t let his knowledge of plants overshadow his friendly personality. Before his retirement, Professor Dan Lassanske would ask students to call him by his first name, becoming “Dan the Man” to many. In the past four years, Dan has made hundreds of succulent pots for friends, fundraisers and teaching tools. He calls these creations “pots with pizzazz.” These handmade novelties are just one way Dan shares his passion for horticulture with others. Dan retired in the spring of 2011, but he remains a leader in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal Poly and then taught agriculture for three years at Poway High School. Dan returned to Cal Poly as a full-time professor where he served the university for 36 years. During those years, Dan provided guidance to countless agriculture teachers who now share his knowledge with their own students. At Dan’s retirement celebration, 27 pots with pizzazz were sold to raise money for the Lassanske Family Endowment, a fund for

student scholarships. Dan makes his pots with a recipe he invented. He places one smaller plastic pot inside a larger one to create a mold. He fills the mold with a mix of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, dye, water and mortar. The mix is left to harden for two to three days. Then, Dan pops the pots out of the plastic mold. Sometimes he even embellishes them with painted designs. Once the pots are complete, Dan fills them with an assortment of succulents. The word ‘succulent’ comes from the Latin word for juice because they store water in their stems, roots and leaves. They are native to South America and South Africa but flourish in many environments. Dan says there are endless varieties of succulents. Aloe is a common type of succulent that has about 500 different species. Sempervivums is another type, with about 40 species. Its name means “house leaks” because they were once used to patch English rooftops. Each variety has its own story. The wide range of colors, textures and shapes makes them intriguing, but what really makes succulents great is they are easy to grow. Succulents are forgiving plants that are easy to propagate. “I tell the high school teachers they can leave the succulents in the greenhouse over Christmas break and the plants would be just fine,” Dan says.

Succulents do not require much water and are dormant in the winter months. There are several ways to propagate succulents (cuttings, stems and leaves) perfect for demonstrating different techniques to students. The propagation results are quick and the profits are high. This makes succulents great projects for students in the National FFA program. Dan is currently advising a senior project to perform an educational display at the California Agricultural Teachers Association conference this summer. The goal is to teach high school agriculture teachers how to lead students in succulent projects. Dan is still working with students and succulents. He began volunteering at Shandon High School immediately after he retired from Cal Poly. Dan has transformed the school’s empty greenhouse into an oasis bursting with succulents. Dan started with large, overgrown plants and taught the students how to make cuttings. The Shandon High School students have seen Dan’s pots with pizzazz and are inspired to make their own. Pots with pizzazz are a special gift. “When you make something, there is something of yourself in it and that’s a real gift,” Dan says. There is no doubt Dan Lassanske has given something of himself to his students. Although he may be retired, Dan’s teachings will continue through the agriculture instructors who once graced his classroom.

Plant your own succulent pot with 5 tips from Dan 1. Use larger, taller succulents in the middle. 2. Consider how many sides it will be viewed from while arranging. 3. Mix up the colors and varieties. 4. Use odd numbers. 5. It only takes a few minutes. Have fun with it!

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Iss u e s

California forest conservation and Management A call to action for a dire situation Story by Peter Delle Photos byValerie Grant

orests in California and North America are in dire condition. California has one of the most diverse varieties of forest ecosystems from giant sequoias to redwoods to bristlecone pines. However, a lack of management has left a great amount of California forests in flames or, even worse, decay. In the midst of this ecological crisis, forestry experts, the general public and the media agree our forests must be protected.


22 | Spring 2012

One might think the apparent consensus on the need for the conservation and management is a step in the right direction. However, conditions have not improved—in fact, they have worsened. According to the California Forestry Association, wild fires in this state have increased more than 300 percent in the last ten years. Today, ten million acres and three million homes in California are at a high risk for severe wildfire. According to the California State Fire Marshall, Kate Dargan, we have not seen improvement because of a fundamental communication gap between the experts of the forestry industry and the general public. In a video produced by a non-profit industry coalition, Forests For the Next Century, Dargan observed the public generally believes the best way to protect our forests is by doing nothing. Forestry experts, however, believe the best way to protect forests is through management. As a result of more than one hundred years of fire suppression and strict California forestry legislation, such as the Forest Practices Act, California’s forests are extremely dense and over-crowded. Now, thousands of trees can be found on a single acre, which only held 50 to 75 trees in the past. According to Cal Poly’s Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences (NRES) Department Head, Doug Piirto, “Too many trees per acre is not healthy.” Research conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has further stated forest thinning can reduce wildfire severity up to 60 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent. According to Forests For The Next Century,

74 percent of the 191 million acres of national forest land is in a serious fire condition. Besides wildfire concerns, overcrowded forests can lead to unhealthy trees. When more trees are growing in an area than the soil can support, they become increasingly stressed. Stressed trees are far more susceptible to insect infestation and disease. These disease and insect infected trees may also pose a threat to climate change. Only 25 percent of the total carbon dioxide released by forests comes from forest fires; the remaining 75 percent is from tree decay. California forests are in a crisis that affects every person, but the solution is clear. Although forestry experts are trained to manage forests and to meet society’s objectives, they face many challenges. There is strong negative opinion towards many logging practices caused by a fundamental communication barrier. California also faces strict regulations, another huge obstacle for forestry experts to overcome. Still, Piirto is an optimist. He puts a considerable amount of faith in the general public of this state. “The California public recognizes the need for working forests to meet the demands of a growing population,” Piirto said. The past ten years have been California’s worst fire years, yet there has been no change in the communications gap between forestry experts and the public. Piirto looks to growing concerns over climate change as a possible push towards this behavior, but forestry experts believe they have a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. The management of our forests is a great resource. Practices such as cogeneration, in which waste from conventional logging methods is converted into bioenergy, have

already shown the possibilities forestry conservation through management can offer. This bioenergy, generated from a renewable resource, can work together with other forms of renewable energy to lessen the effects of harsh forms of nonrenewable energy, such as coal mining. Cal Poly is proactive in creating positive change for California’s forests. The Society of American Foresters accredits the Forestry and Natural Resources major, where graduates can qualify to become a Registered Professional Forester (RPF). In this way, Cal Poly prepares students for a successful career in forestry management. Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch is another opportunity for students to prepare for their careers in forestry. Students learn about forestry conservation through frequent field trips to the 2,100-acre forest. Students can also apply management skills they are learning in the classroom and see for themselves how certain methods work. California forests hold growth potential in both stability and sustainability. It is time for experts and the voting public to reach a consensus about forest management. A lack of effective communication on the side of forestry professionals and a public relatively uneducated in forestry issues has taken a huge toll on our forests. Lives have been lost, homes and forests have been destroyed and carbon emissions have gone unchecked. The forests of California need to be actively managed through more efficient methods in order to prevent the next devastating forest fire. agcircle | 23

Iss u e s

Humane Watch Keeping an eye on one of agriculture’s biggest threats Editorial by Taylor Pires


griculture has been the foundation of our society since the beginning of time. Pastoral societies were comprised of nomads whose sole purpose was tending to their herd of animals. Early horticultural societies tended to crops with simple tools. Over time, agrarian societies evolved, making use of the plow, which allowed them to feed more people than ever before. Today we live in an industrial society that makes use of technology including irrigation to water acres of cropland and artificial insemination to efficiently produce more livestock. This is all to feed the ever-growing population, which is predicted to reach 9.3 billion people by 2050. Society has progressed significantly, but two values have remained the same among agriculturalists: providing for others and caring for animals. One would think with all farmers do for the world today, and how they have shaped our past, there would never be a doubt about their intentions. The reality is, however, the intentions of farmers and ranchers are in constant question. Enter in groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). We have all seen the HSUS commercials: animals shaking in their cages, cows being pushed with forklifts. These images are followed by questions appearing on the screen: “Will they ever stop beating me?” or “Will I ever be loved again?” What isn’t being said in these commercials is what the funds actually go toward. In that thirty-second spot, emotions are being toyed with, though no facts are ever given. Fortunately for agriculturalists, there is a group monitoring the HSUS and opens consumers’ eyes to reality: Humane Watch. Humane Watch carefully analyzes the actions of the HSUS and serves as their watchdog 24 | Spring 2012

organization. The website,, states the HSUS budget “has become too big and too unaccountable and needs to be regulated.” Humane Watch has found HSUS gives “less than one percent of its annual budget to local shelters, totaling $527,000 over the last three years, despite raising more than $120 million annually.” So if the donations made by unassuming pet lovers aren’t going to care for animals, where is it going? More importantly, how does this affect agriculture? The reality is most of the funds consumers think are dedicated to running pet shelters and providing Fluffy and Fido with care, are actually being used to back animal rights bills and lobby against agriculturalists. Humane Watch compares the actions of HSUS to those of the extremist group PETA in stating that, “A large chunk of the $19-per-month pledge pays for lobbyists instead of pet shelters.” HSUS, according to its own tax returns, spent $17.3 million lobbying governments between 2005 and 2009. In addition to its direct lobbying expenditures, HSUS spent $6 million between 2005 and 2009 on political front groups designed to attack livestock farmers at the ballot box. They’ve also stuffed $14 million into pension plans since 2004. HSUS’s ultimate goal for animal agriculture, in one former VP’s words, is to “get rid of the industry.” With a budget this large coming directly from the pocketbooks of unsuspecting consumers, it is no wonder policies like California’s Proposition 2 successfully made it through the legal system. Proposition 2 was on the 2008 California voting ballot. The formal title of this ballot item was Standards for Confining Farm Animals. This initiative had the highest voter turnout in California’s history (79%) and passed with 63% in favor and 36% against. Unbeknown to voters, this legislation

would tremendously increase operating costs for farmers and ranchers. Less expensive food from outside of California began flooding the market and driving out California farmers. Not only did this hurt California business, but left consumers purchasing products not held to the same standards. Groups like HSUS and PETA try everything within their power to end an industry that has kept our society clothed and fed for thousands of years. It may be hard for those with backgrounds in agriculture to understand what motivates animal rights groups to fight for an end to animal agriculture. These groups are just as passionate about putting an end to animal agriculture as agriculturalists are about making it thrive. They don’t understand farmers care for their livestock just as much as they care for their children. Unfortunately, these groups don’t realize agriculture isn’t just a business to us. It’s a lifestyle. Farms are not faceless corporations. Citing the dairy industry as an example, most people don’t realize 99% of California dairies are family-owned and operated. As agriculturalists, we must work not only on being proactive in sharing our story with consumers and confronting tough issues, but we must also engage consumers in conversation. Our motivation as farmers stems from the desire to continue the customs the agriculture society started long ago, while always looking for ways to increase sustainability and efficiency. Certainly there are bad apples in the bunch, but agriculture is an industry built upon the values of honesty, ethics, family tradition and humane treatment for all animals. As the food-consuming public moves further and further away from the agriculture industry, our most important challenge becomes connecting our message to consumers.

The Water War

Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Consistent Struggle to Meet the Needs of Water Users Story and Photos by Christine Woodman


alifornia is in a state of war. Not the kind of war fought with guns and tanks, though it does involve trenches. Not the kind of cold war fought with spies and espionage, though secrets and influence are a major aspect. This war has been going on for well over one hundred years and has shaped California in a more profound way than any other force in history, all without the knowledge or notice of most Californians. This is the water war.

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In The Beginning To fully understand the current water issues facing California, it is important to first know the story of how things came to their present condition. The story of California’s water begins with climate. In 1946, Carey McWilliams, a well-known Southern California historian and activist for social justice wrote, “God never intended Southern California to be anything but desert… man has made it what it is.” When the Spanish missionaries were dotting the coast with missions and pueblos during the 1700’s, one of the main criteria for a location was that it had to have a good source of water. As early as the 1850’s, Californian’s began to heavily “develop” their water supplies. In northern California, this development was primarily for use in the mining and logging industries. As the population grew, agricultural and urban uses of water also increased. The advantage Northern California had was its natural and reliable water sources. Southern California, on the other hand, quickly 26 | Spring 2012

God never intended Southern California to be anything but desert... man has made it what it is. -Carey McWilliams

outgrew its natural water sources. Eventually, water was diverted from rivers to irrigate croplands, wells were drilled and pumped dry, and the people of southern California began to grow concerned about where their water would come from. So began the great history of the water bond. A group of wealthy developers conceived a plan to build a 238-mile-long aqueduct from the Owens River to the San Fernando Valley, which at the time was not even part of Los Angeles. In order to accomplish this, they put

a $25 million bond measure on the ballot. This bond, which passed because of a series of somewhat questionable practices, spurred the development of the San Fernando Valley and set the precedent for the development of much of southern California. Today… Fast forward to present day. Southern California relies on the Colorado River and the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta for nearly all of its water. Crisscrossing the state is an intricate series of aqueducts, dams, reservoirs, irrigation canals, trenches and pumping stations that spread the water resources from their natural sources to urban and agriculture users all over the state. Some of these projects have been funded by the state, while the federal government has picked up the tab for others. The important fact is this system takes water from places where it naturally exists to places without adequate natural water sources. Most of the major rivers in California have been developed in one way or another. Most

common is the construction of dams and reservoirs to store water and generate hydroelectric power. The largest river in California, the Sacramento River, is dammed at almost all of its major tributaries. The trouble is California frequently finds its water resources are inadequate to meet the needs of its increasing demand. California’s water supplies urban users, industry and agriculture, and is increasingly being mandated for environmental uses. Water is, after all, essential to the spawning of fish and provides habitat for many other creatures. The competing needs of environmental, urban and agricultural users have in recent years created tension across the state. In many drought years, urban and environmental users are more likely to receive their water deliveries, but agriculture loses. Farmers don’t always receive their water deliveries, which can result in crop loss or farmers being forced to fallow some of the most productive land in the world. This is particularly devastating for farmers of multi-year crops such as almonds, pecans and grapevines, which require a hefty initial investment and must grow for several years before becoming productive. In many cases, these farmers may lose their entire livelihood because the water necessary to keep their crops alive is unavailable. The Solution? So what can be done? When agriculture is forced to compete for water resources, it has consistently lost again and again. Unfortunately, most of the resources available have already been developed, and many of these resources are being diverted to other uses. The urban population is also constantly on the rise, especially in the drought-prone southern portion of the state. The amount of water available to Californians is finite, and it must be shared between all of its users in a way that provides the maximum benefit to its citizens. The challenge for the agriculture industry is, and will continue to be, showing the state’s leadership and urban population agriculture really is a beneficial use of the state’s water. The agriculture industry is becoming increasingly efficient at reducing the amount of water it takes for crops to grow, but it’s not enough. If the industry can’t step up to the challenge, agriculture in California will literally dry up.

Drip irrigation helps farmers reduce water usage and increase efficiency. agcircle | 27

Iss u e s

Wait, I can’t eat

What ?

The chronicles of two carnivores on a vegan adventure Story by Carrie Isaacson and David Jones


oing vegan isn’t something that’s exactly new. However, folks are changing the way they think about vegans in general. It’s not as taboo of a subject as it used to be, even if we all might secretly cringe at the idea of accommodating a vegan at our dinner party. Agriculturalists, in general, tend to hold a negative opinion about this portion of the population, as many vegans tend to have a poor opinion of agriculturalists. We decided that we should seek to understand, rather than condemn, which led us to go vegan for a week and blog about it. We considered this a case study in veganism, and an attempt at understanding a portion of individuals whom we tend to disagree with nutritionally.

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Carrie’s Story.

As an agricultural communicator, I’m always asking the consumer to put themselves in the position of the farmer and rancher and walk a mile in their shoes. This tactic works and I use it often, but have I ever used this tactic on myself? Have I ever tried to understand someone on the opposite end of the spectrum? Until recently, that answer was no. Never before had I gone out of my comfort zone to experience another lifestyle. When David mentioned how he thought it might be an interesting experience to take the vegan lifestyle for a test drive, I realized I had an opportunity to use my own tactic. After talking David into his idea, we made a pact to go vegan for an entire week (despite his incessant complaining). The week had its ups and downs, but overall it was a positive experience. Not only do I feel like I began to understand another lifestyle, I was reminded of some very important things. One, people are great. Both meat eaters and vegans alike provided constant encouragement for David and I throughout the week, something I don’t think either of us expected. Two, everyone within the agriculture industry needs an advocacy voice. As an industry, we are always there for the ranchers, dairymen and egg producers, as they are the groups that tend to catch the most flack. While we are standing up for their right to farm, we need to think about the specialty crop producers as well. Although they are not always in the spotlight, specialty crops face regulations and a lack of public understanding too. Everyone within the agriculture industry deserves attention. Going vegan for a week hasn’t changed

my opinion on my diet, but it has made me more mindful of my choices and the choices of others. Just because I prefer to eat meat and cheese doesn’t mean I can’t respect those who choose to abstain from such products. I can also make more of an effort to include products from all corners of the agriculture industry in my diet. While the challenge was full of some serious revelations, it was also full of some comedic moments. From watching David push a cart through the natural food store, to my vegan culinary disasters, there was plenty of laughter to distract us from our dietary restrictions. The week was by no means easy, but doing it with a friend made it a lot easier than I thought possible.

David’s Story.

When one decides to go vegan, it is a difficult (and emotionally challenging) time. This period is full of research, substitutions and the horrible realization that the few items you thought might fit this lifestyle and make your life worth living are probably not vegan. Let’s perform an exercise, shall we? Pull out a pen and piece of paper. Now make a list of all the tasty things in your life you assume to be vegan. Now throw it away. Because you’re probably wrong. As far as the “vegan lifestyle” is concerned, it’s pretty much impossible to pull off. Did you brush your teeth this morning? Do you wash your clothes? Do you enjoy those scented candles? Does your house contain sheet rock? If the answer was yes to any of these questions, you should thank Bessie the cow for her contributions to society, as parts of her not only feed you, but provide you with shelter and hygiene products.

I’m not saying veganism is bad; certainly there are herbivores out there supporting production agriculture practices and merely choose this diet as an attempt at a healthier lifestyle. It seems, however, a lot of vegans hold an inborn hatred for the production animal industry and use their diet as a way to make a statement. As a dairyman myself, I can tell you that I care more about those girls on the dairy (and their comfort and health) than I do just about anything else. I just happen to also care that their meat and milk are exceptionally tasty and full of nutrition. I grew up in a household with fresh, great tasting meat, milk and eggs and I saw firsthand how these products were brought to the table. It never occurred to me someone could hate me because I’m a farmer, or because of my nutritional choices. I don’t think I even knew vegetarians or vegans existed until I was a teenager. I am so happy we live in a country where we are free to speak our minds and have the kind of diet we most desire. I do my best to be respectful of everyone’s choices and lifestyles, and all I ask in return is the same. The great thing about this adventure is I realized the voice barking the loudest is not necessarily the voice of the group. It’s refreshing to realize not everyone who doesn’t understand you is out to get you. We had a number of vegans following along with our stories, and their support was helpful and surprising. I’m not naïve. I realize there will always be folks that disagree with my love of dairy products and meat, there’s not much I can do to change that. What I can do, is continue to share my story and, at the very least, respect the opinions I cannot change. agcircle | 29

agcircle announcing the

2012 photo contest

Enter your best ag photos in the 2012 photo contest! Top photos will be featured in the Summer/Fall 2012 issue and compete to be featured as the cover shot! Please send your submissions to by April 10, 2012. Photos must be 300 dpi resolution at 8.5 x 11â&#x20AC;? and taken by a current Cal Poly student. Please include name, major and a brief description of the photo with submission. Entries are limited to one per person. Portrait orientation of photo appreciated. Good luck!

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agcircle magazine

Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Ag Circle Spring 2012 Issue  

The staff at Ag Circle are proud to present the spring issue. Hope you enjoy reading our humble magazine as much as we've enjoyed bringing i...