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cal poly, san luis obispo winter 2013


Tackling Sweet Issues Strawberry Sustainability Research and Education Center at Cal Poly

Beyond the Basics Connecting animal agriculture and human health

A Giant Connection Cal Poly RPTA students work as ambassadors for the San Francisco Giants

Letter from the Staff ENJOY THE WINTER ISSUE!


e come to Cal Poly with our eyes set on the future. We contemplate where these four years will take us in our careers, in our personal lives and in agriculture. The Winter 2013 issue of agcircle highlights the promise of this future through the idea of being sustainable. Sustainability exists in many aspects of our lives. Each day is an opportunity to maintain the progress we have already made, while simultaneously looking towards the future and the promise of tomorrow. The agcircle staff finds sustainability weaving its way through many of this issue’s stories. Our writers share how the Cal Poly community is ensuring a sweet supply of California strawberries, bringing joy and opportunities to underprivileged youth, and helping the next generation of winemakers thrive. We are telling stories about the importance of a future for agricultural education, a communitydriven veteran, and a socially-aware beekeeper. We thrive on what the future holds. We are also incredibly thankful for the actions of our predecessors, who have allowed us the opportunities we have today. Now it is our turn, to create a bright future for the ones to follow us. The agcircle staff can not wait to see what this year and the future of agriculture will hold. Many thanks, Kenna, Taylor, Jordan and Amanda


Highlighting Past & Present Agriculturists Left: We appreciate the hard work, dedication and vision of Mr. Jim Brock. Brock saw a need for a center to develop agriculture communicators. Without his passion, drive and generosity, Cal Poly students wouldn’t be learning and growing at the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication each day. Right: The photo of Cal Poly alum and farmer, Eric Boyd, in his hydroponic greenhouse, shows how our industry is moving forward. With his focus on being economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, he is working to ensure a positive future for his operation. 2 | Winter 2013

C o n T E n T S CAmPUS BUZZ 04



Volume 32, Issue 1, Winter 2013 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 Taylor Pires

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Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology


Wine and Viticulture Expands From a major to a Department


Cal Poly’s Role in the Strawberry Sustainablility Research and Education Center


Leading the Way


The Cal Poly Vet Clinic


Three Retired Faculty Share Their Cal Poly Experiences

Faculty Advisor megan Silcott Associate Editors Amanda meneses Jordan Dunn Kenna Lewis Writers Rachel Dewar, maddie Dunlap, Jordan Dunn, maddison Easley, Sonja Eschenburg, mcKenna Kane, Kenna Lewis, Corinne madison, Amanda meneses, Taylor Pires, harrison Reilly, Katie Roberti, Sarah Tormey, haley Warner Photographers ASI, American olive oil Producers Association, mandy Brazil, Robert Cristie Photography, Kaitlyn Defanti, Brady Dubois, Jordan Dunn, Addie Dyer, The Giants Community Fund, Carrie Isaacson, Kenna Lewis, Amanda meneses, Parrish Bees, Taylor Pires, Katie Roberti, Rachel White, Ben Shahbazi, megan Silcott, Dr. Scott Vernon, haley Warner Graphic Designers Jordan Dunn and Amanda meneses Submissions to agcircle are welcome. 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. This issue of agcircle was printed by PRP Companies.

TREnDInG noW 14








California’s olive oil Commission

Connecting Animal Agriculture and human health

one man’s Efforts to Ensure his Business and Community Thrive

California Agriculture License Plates


INTERNS GO BEYOND COFFEE AND COPIES Two Cal Poly Students Share Their Successful Intership Experiences



Cal Poly RPTA Students Work as Ambassadors for the San Francisco Giants


FINDING PASSION IN PRODUCE opportunities for Students are Bountiful in the Produce Industry


A SPARK OF PASSION Igniting opportunities for CAFES Students



What’s All The Buzz About

Answering Tomorrow’s Questions

Story by Maddie Dunlap Photos by Robert Cristie Photography

Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy


fter serving for eight years in the state legislature, Sam Blakeslee found the state’s major problems were not being solved. As a scientist always looking for a solution, Dr. Blakeslee founded Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy. The Institute, which is in its first official year on campus, looks to bring together students across all disciplines to find science-based resolutions for California’s issues. “Public policy is very important in the lives of Californians,” Blakeslee explained. “We can put the best and the brightest minds of Cal Poly together to search for better ideas and potentially have a very large impact on the well-being of California.” This year the Institute is targeting three major projects: Digital Democracy, Connect Academy and CalWave. The Digital Democracy project is already underway and will work to make civic engagement easier for Californians. The electronic tool will set up live streaming coverage of committee hearings from Sacramento. Another major project, Connect Academy, is designed to bridge the gap from parent to student to teacher, particularly in Spanish speaking students from kindergarten to sixth grade. This improvement in communication will be accomplished with the use of tablet technology. The third project, CalWave, looks to reduce carbon usage by exploring alternative 4 | Winter 2013

energy sources. As these projects get underway, the Institute will eventually be offering fellowships to students across several majors. The fellowships will offer a financial stipend to students who work on projects for the Institute. “In terms of where we hope to be in a year from now, we hope to have all three of our projects considerably advanced with student teams working on all of them,” Blakeslee said. “Our goal is to have a really significant number of students involved in all of these projects.” The fellowships will look to involve students from nearly every discipline, including Agricultural Communication. As these projects take off, the Institute has a need to publicize their successes. “We want to be very involved [in] using social media tools so that we can highlight and demonstrate these successful projects,” Blakeslee explained. “[Then] students and people who may not necessarily be interested in politics or policy can see what is happening and get excited.” In fact, Kaitlin Harr, a recent Agricultural Science graduate, uses her background in agricultural communication as a project coordinator

at the Institute. In her first few months on the job, Kaitlin has been able to use her education from the Agricultural Education and Communication Department in several ways. “The communication skills, interview skills, public speaking, just the people skills we learn, allow us to be a good spokesperson for our different passions,” Harr explains. Harr first learned about the Institute when she was serving on the Academic Senate through Associated Students, Inc. (ASI). She sat in on Blakeslee and Associate Director Christine Robertson’s initial presentation to the Academic Senate. The Institute was able to bring several of Kaitlin’s interests and expertise together. “With my specific interest in the agriculture industry and also policy and politics, I was very curious about this new program,” Harr said. “I was interested in the real-world process of getting agriculture students, liberal arts students, graphic communication students and engineering students all in the [same] room.” Blakeslee sees agriculture majors of all kinds playing an important role in the mission of the Institute. From alternative energy sources to water and air quality and even education, the issues and projects the Institute looks to address need the skills agriculture students can offer. “We have a significant crossover benefit to agriculture,” Blakeslee said. “I am a big believer that when you regulate

“We’re not just creating a term paper or a proposal; we are looking for a solution that works.”


agriculture, it is important to include their best ideas. I think that continues to motivate our efforts here at the Institute.” Cal Poly’s high caliber of students

across diverse majors and the Learn by Doing motto also helps elevate student involvement with the Institute’s inaugural projects. Cal Poly students will have the

opportunity to put their unique skill set to practice at the Institute. “I think it really takes Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing [philosophy] that we love so much to the next step,” Harr said. “We’re not just creating a term paper or a proposal; we are looking for a solution that works.” Blakeslee, and his staff of five, hope to see these solutions well under way in the next year. Looking even further into the future, Blakeslee hopes that projects will expand and the Institute will become a model for other universities. “We really want this Institute to be a showcase that will demonstrate to other CSU campuses what can be done if you really believe in your faculty and students, and give them the opportunity to work on these types of teams,” Blakeslee said. “Cal Poly is such a phenomenally strong campus others will want to emulate the creativity that President Armstrong has demonstrated by putting together this program.”



The next Generation of

Wine & Viticulture

Story and Photos by Haley Warner


he Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program has no boundaries when it comes to growing and expanding. Only a few weeks before the start of the 2013 Fall Quarter, the program was declared an official department within the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences (CAFES). The program’s development to include not only a major, but to form its own department, comes with much excitement and enthusiasm from Cal Poly students, faculty and the San Luis Obispo community. The process of transferring from solely a major to an entire department required an incredible amount of hard work, effort and time. This would not have been possible without many people, both on and off of campus. The process of establishing a department was initiated and driven by “the success of [the] major and the interest of our students,” said Dr. James Cooper, head of the new Wine and Viticulture Department. This isn’t the first time student interest has brought about positive change for the program. Cal Poly made Wine and Viticulture a major in 2004, after recognizing the growing popularity and enthusiasm for the original Wine and Viticulture minor in 1999. The idea of a new department was proposed because of continual achievements and the apparent significance of the program. With immense student interest and success, the thought of bringing a new department into CAFES still needed approval. In order to become the 10th department within CAFES (11th when including Military Science), the idea needed support from former CAFES Dean David Wehner, as well as authorization from the Academic Senate, President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and many others. After approval from all necessary parties, Cal Poly and the surrounding community were able to welcome the new department with open arms. “These are exciting times,” Dr. Cooper shared, when eagerly talking about 6 | Winter 2013

the future of the Wine and Viticulture program. The future of the new department is bright, as Cooper has intentions of constructing the Wine and Viticulture Innovations Center, which

“ It just makes sense

for us to support Cal Poly because that’s the next generation of wine-makers...

will allow Cal Poly wine to be made on campus. He also hopes to work with other departments such as Biology and Chemistry, offering related courses to supplement student learning. Students and other community members are also ready to see what the Wine and Viticulture Department will bring to the table. Freshman Wine and Viticulture student, Braden Bautista, did not realize that his major had become its own department before arriving to Cal Poly, but is “excited about what the department has in store.” The community has also had a positive reaction to the department change. “They are glad to see it happen,” Dr. Cooper said. San Luis Obispo’s wine industry is significantly booming, as shown by there being three times as many internship opportunities than there are students to fill them. Not surprisingly, the community and local industry leaders are eager and

excited about the students that will come from the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program. Doug Minnick, co-founder of The Garagiste Festival, shared why he is donating the proceeds from the festival to the Wine and Viticulture program. “Garagiste is all about supporting small production and up-and-coming winemakers. It just makes sense for us to support Cal Poly because that’s the next generation of winemakers along the Central Coast.” Community members like Doug are ensuring the success of the program with their belief in Cal Poly and its students. With passionate students, dedicated faculty and staff, and a welcoming community, there is no doubt the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program will continue to grow and thrive.





Story by Sarah

Tormey, Photos by Amanda Meneses


he California Strawberry Commission recently proposed the creation of the Strawberry Sustainability Research and Education Center, a one-of-a-kind, dynamic collaboration with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The main goal of the partnership is to establish a center dedicated to improving the sustainability and viability of mass strawberry production in California, which produces 85 percent of the nation’s strawberries. The sweet red fruit, Fragaria x ananassa, commonly known as garden strawberry, is a hot commodity facing pressing sustainability issues- and it is time for California to get serious. With a call for food reform, along with chemical bans creeping up on strawberry farmers, it will take a team of leaders and a fresh new approach to research and education in order to tackle today’s strawberry demands. To collaborate and brainstorm on how they should begin these endeavors, Cal Poly invited the Strawberry Commission to an all day meeting in the Advanced Tech Lab early this fall. Top growers and leadership teams from the industry got together with Cal Poly staff to check out the potential strawberry field on campus, which would be used for planting and research.They also discussed what facilities would be necessary. Ideas include a state of the art hydroponic greenhouse or two, facilities to support breeding agcircle


programs, and a research lab dedicated to strawberry plant pathology, entomology and physiology. “The Research and Education Center will help both Cal Poly and the strawberry industry thrive,” said the California Strawberry Commission (CSC) President Mark Murai, in a CSC press release. “We need to step up and look at how we can bring the industry and the university together to keep them thriving, relevant and at the cutting edge of what they do.” He approached Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong in the summer of 2012 to propose this partnership that will give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to work with experts in the strawberry industry on real-world problems. “This is an important step forward to strengthen ties with key California industries,” President Armstrong said at a signing event in Sacramento last February. Faculty and undergraduate students from all parts of campus will have an opportunity to collaborate, “including hydrologists, entomologists, plant scientists, engineers, packaging scientists and marketers, to name a few.” Much of the research will focus on growing strawberries without the use of the ozone depleting soil fumigation techniques currently used in conventional production. The primary chemical used for the fumigation of strawberry fields is called Methyl Bromide, which is petroleum derived and lab produced. In the process of being phased out after a 1990 bill was passed in Montreal, declaring it unsafe, its use will be completely illegal in California in 2015. This ban will force conventional strawberry farmers to drastically change how they manage their crops. The strawberry industry is now aiming to find an alternative to soil fumigation as pest control, while developing new harvesting

8 | Winter 2013

technologies and plant breeds. There are also needs for developing training and education programs to help teach strawberry producers more advanced technical skills in the areas of transplanting, pest control, irrigation and harvesting. Developing a way to mechanize strawberry harvesting is also a priority, as the industry has been experiencing a lack of labor during harvest season. Additionally, the CSC is interested in establishing a new flow of talented young people coming into the industry. “We have a lot of respect for your graduates you’ve produced and many of them are out in the industry doing very well,” Mark Murai said of Cal Poly grads. “We want to develop talent to bring back to this industry.” It is his hope that working alongside the strawberry growers and researchers will encourage Cal Poly students to join the strawberry industry. Cal Poly is excited for this opportunity to help strawberry production become both environmentally sustainable and economically feasible for farmers. The California Strawberry Commission has already promised Cal Poly $1 million to get the ball rolling. One of the main brains developing the project, the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Science’s Associate Dean Dr. Mark Shelton, is currently hiring a plant pathologist, research technician and center director to run and represent the center. “The California Strawberry Commission is willing to break open this whole strawberry production process,” Shelton said. He says the building and research will be under way early next year. This symbiotic relationship is expected to evolve into a dynamic and long-term partnership of Cal Poly doers and the agricultural innovators of California, carrying us into the future of food.


Agriculture & ASI: Leading the Way

Story by Brock Center Staff Photos provided by ASI

Jason Colombini

Major: Agricultural Business Hometown: Linden, Calif.

Tatiana Prestininzi

Major: Agricultural Science Hometown: Fallbrook, Calif.

Why did you choose Cal Poly? Jason: I have always wanted to come here. I’m the sixth person in my family to do so. My dad came here in the early ‘80s along with a couple of his brothers, and my grandfather came here in the ‘40s, so it’s always been a part of our family -- pride in Cal Poly, Cal Poly gear, everything about it. Even something as simple as Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy was not reserved for my time at college; I grew up with it. It’s part of the family. You learn, you go out, you do, you make mistakes and you learn from them. There are no negatives to Cal Poly in my eyes. Tatiana: The biggest reason why I chose Cal Poly is that I knew that I would be a name and not a number. I visited a lot of different universities: Santa Barbara, Chico and others. But there was a professor here, I met with him, his phone rang, and he didn’t answer it. He was completely focused on me, and really took the time to invest in who I was. After that two-hour conversation, I noticed that every student who came in, every student he saw, he knew their name. He was never trying to figure out “what class do I know them from?” or “where have I seen them?” The Cal Poly community is much more than a university; it is a family, and that is something I value. Could you describe the purpose of your role in Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), and how it has changed over the years? Jason: In my role as ASI president, I am the one person who is elected by all of the students; everyone else is either elected by college or appointed in the different branches. My role is to be that funnel, in a sense, for the opinions of the students through

to administration or whatever different departments, and a general advocate for student issues in the community here. I chair committees like the Student Community Liaison Committee, the Student Success Fee Allocation Advisory Committee, and the Campus Fee Advisory Committee. I appoint all the students onto all the university wide committees. Every day is a little different, and usually it’s just a lot more of an external role, whether it’s at office hours, talking with administration, going to meetings, or meeting with students. The position has not changed too much. There has always been an ASI president. The only direct thing I know that has changed with the president, is that the president in the ‘80s actually had veto power over the board, like the oldfashioned legislative branch and executive branch. They got rid of that when they transitioned from student senate into the board of directors. Everything’s always changing, always for the better. But you know nothing is ever quite the best, that is why it is always changing. Tatiana: In ASI, I currently serve as the chair for the board of directors. I have a dual-role. I serve as a corporate officer for the ASI Corporation and also serve as the chairman of the board, in which I am the facilitator for the board of directors. The board of directors is the “official voice of the Cal Poly students,” and my job is to help them represent their constituents, whether that be through education on bills and resolutions, or how to make a motion through parliamentary procedure in our meetings. I am really just the facilitator, and I support the directors in everything and anything. agcircle


When asked about your choice of major, how do you explain the importance of agriculture? Jason: When I was speaking to all of the freshman in CAFES, I was asking things like, “who here has an ag background?” I wanted everyone to see that not everyone is an “aggie,” but also for those who are “aggies,” some people don’t know about agriculture. Much fewer people than I thought actually come from an agriculture background. That is one thing I realize now, in Future Farmers of America (FFA) we really promote getting rid of ag illiteracy. Well if these people aren’t coming from an agriculture background, into a major to learn about agriculture, that is combating it pretty well. I guess that is what I’ll say to people. A reason to be an agriculture major is you can do anything. With an Agricultural Business degree, you can do anything from run a farm, to be the CEO of Apple. Tatiana: For me, agriculture is our bread and butter; it is our food, fiber and natural resources. I want to be an advocate for the industry. Going back to the farm and producing or teaching in the classroom are wonderful professions. However, I really enjoy being the voice and serving in a role speaking for others. I think that is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly and I am humbled by it because you are a representative of “x” amount of people. The reason I chose my major and why agriculture is so important, is because it is essential to life and is an amazing industry with amazing people; I think that their story should be shared. Can you describe a major goal you have this year in student government? Jason: It is all going to come out of that survey I got sent out. That was the biggest thing, I talked about it a lot. It is all in this idea, just like how FFA promotes servant leadership and serving

10 | Winter 2013

others. What is it the students want? What issues they thought were on campus, what issues they thought were arising, so what is it that all the students want? And it’s the ones who actually let their voices be heard, that is why it is called the “Let Your Voice be Heard Survey.” If students support something on there, then we are going to advocate for it. So the goals for the year come from that survey. Getting that survey out has been the biggest goal so far, for my branch anyway. Tatiana: Absolutely! Previously, I served as a CAFES representative for two years, and during that time I really found my voice as a representative. My goal this year is to help the representatives, there are 24 of them, find their voices. A lot of them are new, 20 out of the 24 have never served on the board of directors. I am very excited to help the 24 students as a whole really find their voice and represent their constituents, whether that be through confidence in public speaking, or knowing how to make a proper motion. AgCircle compliments and appreciates the leadership Tatiana and Jason provide to our entire university. Their roles are evidence of leadership in action and we are proud to have them as agriculture majors.


Veterinary Skills 101: The Cal Poly Vet Clinic

Story by McKenna Kane, Photos by Megan Silcott


uilt over 50 years ago, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo is host to one of the only fully operational vet clinics on a university campus, with the exception being prominent veterinary schools. The Vet Clinic continues today through funding from the Cal Poly Corporation, small veterinary fees and a variety of donors. The goal of the Vet Clinic is to give students handson experience in their degree field and prepare them for a vet’s caseload. An interview with Dr. Kim Sprayberry D.V.M., a board-certified equine internal medicine specialist and Cal Poly lecturer, revealed the uniqueness of the Cal Poly Vet Clinic. The clinic shows students different aspects of the veterinary career. For example, the clinic offers lab activities to show students in-field procedures that can include visits to each of the livestock units. In unique Cal Poly-style, the Vet Clinic serves as the main veterinary support to the numerous livestock units on campus. “Working at the Vet Clinic has allowed me to gain valuable hands-on veterinary experiences with small animals and exotics. [I’ve worked with] dogs, cats,

snakes and turtles,” Emily Cehrs, Animal Science student and Vet Clinic student manager, shared. “Additionally, working at the Vet Clinic has given me insight into the management and day to day business of a veterinary clinic; whether that be running blood work, sterilizing equipment, scheduling appointments, filling out medical records, billing clients or completing end of the month finances.” There is also an enterprise opportunity that exposes students to the day-to-day tasks necessary to keep any clinic running. Some of these tasks include vaccinations, pharmacy work and proper paperwork. In addition to this practical experience, students are able to work with a wide variety of animals. “My favorite thing is also the most challenging. We have the opportunity to work with many kinds of animals,” Dr. Sprayberry said. “We can go from looking at a snake to a rabbit to a horse in one day.” It is this diverse experience that makes the Cal Poly Vet Clinic stand out. Dr. Sprayberry clarified that “the goal of the Vet Clinic is not to compete with other local practitioners,” but rather to learn from them. Local veterinarians occasionally assist or lead lab activities and students even have the ability to shadow local veterinarians in the field. She expressed the Vet Clinic would never want to infringe on businesses in the community. Dr. Sprayberry also

mentioned, “all animals we examine are owned by affiliates of the university.” In other words, the Vet Clinic’s patients are not directly open to the public, thereby encouraging community members to seek veterinary professionals in the area. In the near future, the existing Vet Clinic is set to be demolished and rebuilt with new, state-of-the-art facilities and technology to better serve students. “The new technology will better prepare students for veterinary school and future jobs,” Dr. Sprayberry shared. The plans for this project are still in the early stages, with the actual project only partly funded at this time. Cehrs also has her sights on the future. “I am preparing to go to vet school this coming year and am preparing to eventually own my own practice,” Cehrs described. “The leadership, communication, and management skills that I have learned while managing the Vet Clinic will assist me in the future with running my own clinic.” Dr. Sprayberry commented with advice for aspiring veterinarians. “Look at the entire scope of the veterinary medicine degree,” she said, cautioning that veterinary medicine is a changing profession. To decide whether to own a practice or pursue other veterinary related careers, she also advised, “take every opportunity and every internship.” A combination of these experiences, and the Cal Poly Vet Clinic as a perfect testing ground, will help students decide which facet of the veterinary medicine degree is the right fit.


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LongCAFES Live

Story by Sonja Eschenburg Photos by Addie Dyer


al Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences (CAFES) is proud to be the home of departments led by some of the nation’s most renowned faculty members. These are people, just like you and I, who take both pride and joy in their professions. They go above and beyond to transform students into qualified professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world. By combining theoretical and practical knowledge — not only in the classroom, but the lab and field — these individuals are confidently leading their students through the polytechnic process of Learn by Doing, one step at a time. Over the years, CAFES has been privileged enough to employ and work with some incredible faculty members – some whose time here has, unfortunately, come to an end. I was lucky enough to meet with some of these individuals to briefly relive their time spent here. Although that of course, does not do justice to their years of continued service and dedication to our community. 12 | Winter 2013

CAMPUS BUZZ How long have you been here with us at Cal Poly and what department and positions did you work in? Stan Henderson: I have worked here for the past 23 years as one of Cal Poly’s Dairy Science professors and was also previously manager and supervisor of the student-run university dairy farm. Tell me about your time here. SH: I have been a dedicated teacher and believe in Learn by Doing. This has followed through with supervision of the university dairy and many activities I have been involved with. Teaching a wide variety of classes has helped in my breadth and understanding of the dairy industry. I’ve been able to travel extensively and do consulting around the world. What were some of your most memorable highlights during your teaching career? SH: Coaching the dairy judging team, which has included winning every national level contest competed in during the past 15 years, has been a highlight. In addition, I’ve enjoyed coaching the dairy challenge team and teaching the dairy consultation class, which visits more than 10 large commercial dairy farms each winter quarter, for the past five years. Tell me about your decision to retire. What are your plans now? SH: My decision to retire has a lot of contributing factors, however, I do plan to continue teaching part-time as well as consulting on a part-time basis, too.

What departments and positions did you work in? Robert Rutherford: I worked in the Animal Husbandry Department, which later became the Animal Science Department. I worked my way up from Junior Vocational Instructor, up to becoming a full-time professor and eventually the Senior Sheep Specialist. That included managing all sheep operations on campus.

What advice would you give to future teachers in this department position? RR: Be sure to understand the vital and critical need for young people that understand agriculture. By definition, that means production of food and fiber. I would urge new faculty to push back to an emphasis on animal husbandry of agriculture animals (those produced for food and fiber). Over the years you were at Cal Poly, what changes did you observe in the students? RR: The gender ratio in the Animal Science Department went from about 40-to-60 to over 80-to-20 female to male. The background of incoming students was traditionally from agriculture backgrounds. Today, however, there are practically no incoming students with that background or even interest in agriculture. Though the students had increasingly high grades and test scores, and were highly motivated to do well at Cal Poly, typical students in the Animal Science Department looked at Cal Poly as somewhere to go through in order to get somewhere else – largely veterinary school. What are your plans now? RR: I have established a business consulting with some large-scale land management entities. They are bringing me on board as a project manager, as well as into a partnership that grazes sheep at the Dairy Creek Golf Course.

When did you serve at Cal Poly? Lynn Moody: I started part-time in September 1995, as a lecturer, and retired in June 2012. What departments and positions did you work in? LM: In the Earth & Soil Sciences Department I started as a part-time lecturer, successfully competed for the position of assistant professor in 1999, then eventually achieved full professor and department chair (later, department

head). When the Earth and Soil Sciences and Natural Resource Management Departments came together to form the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department, I went back to full professor for a year. What advice would you give to future teachers in this department position? LM: Be prepared to work hard and have a great career. Keep up with your research and incorporate students in that research. How about CAFES, did it change much? LM: Well, yes, as state funding declined the college administration has put more and more emphasis on industry partnerships and research funding. This has resulted, I think, in new faculty with more ambition and “savvy” in their areas of expertise. What do you think about Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy? LM: It is absolutely essential - practicing and supporting Learn by Doing establishes Cal Poly as different and unique, both for students and for future employers of these students. What advice would you give to current agriculture students at Cal Poly today? LM: Study and work hard! Get as much practical experience as possible, through research (such as senior project), projects and internships. Be accepting, tolerant and welcoming of all sorts of people – expand your horizons. Understand some fantastic job opportunities lie outside of California, so being mobile is a must. What are your plans now? LM: I still teach at Cal Poly part-time, winter quarter only. My husband and I also own an olive and sheep ranch where I am a spinner of wool and other fibers, too. Right now I am working on teaching myself to weave on the side.

As you can see, all three of these now past faculty members have truly enjoyed their time spent working here, and continue to do so. Their work, efforts and dedication are appreciated. Ernie Harwell once said, “It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad. I’d much rather say hello, hello to a new adventure.” And so, I would like to take this time now to thank each and every one of these faculty members for all they have done for us, and wish all of them good luck in their endeavors to come. agcircle

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Olive Us Together

Story by Amanda Meneses Photos provided by American Olive Oil Producers Association

14 | Winter 2013



hen considering the word, “trending,” most people would think of fashion, the latest news in pop culture or the latest exercise craze. In previous generations, the idea of food being trendy was rare, until now. Suddenly kale is hip, pomegranates are a must-have in every kitchen and olive oil makes any dish healthy and delicious. As farmers are overjoyed about the increased consumption of their products, policy-makers are ensuring that farmers will continue to be protected. Senator Lois Wolk of Davis, Calif., introduced Senate Bill (SB) 250 to initiate the creation of a state commission that would help California olive growers and manufacturers be more competitive in the olive oil market. “California’s olive oil industry has been growing exponentially over the past five years,” Wolk shared. “The industry believes it is time to support a coordinated effort to provide for olive oil research and standards to promote the sustainability and success of this important agricultural product.” The question arises, however, if there is such a great demand for olive oil, why is it that growers need a commission to help them compete in the world market? Senator Wolk has been involved with the UC Davis Olive Center since its creation in 2008. The center has conducted extensive research on the quality and authenticity of extra virgin olive oil. According to their studies, 69 percent of imported extra virgin olive oil purchased in California supermarkets failed to meet international standards. This means many of them were falsely labeled as extra virgin grade. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil category. It must be produced by simply pressing the juice from olives without any use of solvents or additives of any kind. Reasons the imported olive oils were not in compliance with international standards include oxidation from exposure to increased temperature or light, adulteration with cheaper refined olive oil or low quality oil made from overripe olives. As Chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Olive Oil Production, Senator Wolk held a hearing in 2012 on the challenges facing California’s olive oil industry. “We heard about the rampant

fraud, mislabeling and adulteration by olive oil importers that make it difficult for our growing local farmers and producers to compete,” Wolk explained. Wolk described how the members of the subcommittee ended that hearing with a question for the industry: What do you want the legislature to do to help promote the sustainability and success of this important agricultural product? After numerous industry discussions, and meetings with growers and processors, the request was to create an olive oil commission. Senator Wolk said she then introduced SB 250 and spent the next seven months crafting the law to create the Olive Oil Commission of California. “All segments of the industry have been actively engaged in this process and unified in support of efforts that will give [the] entire industry, regardless of size, an opportunity to thrive,” Wolk added. Unfortunately the process is not quite complete. It is now up to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to hold a referendum of the qualifying olive oil producers to determine if the industry is willing to be assessed for the costs of the commission, Wolk stated. If the referendum vote is positive, the board of directors, advisory committee and other structures of the commission will be established. Once accepted, the commission will further its research and provide standards necessary for California growers to be competitive.

Art Kishiyama, president of the Central Coast Olive Growers (CCOG) and grower/producer of Olio Nuevo, says CCOG supports the commission and the service it will provide. Kishiyama says the commission’s “aim is to level the playing field.” As the commission continues to develop throughout the future, his hope is that the commission will not only aid the large California growers, but also the boutique-size growers that are so prominent on the Central Coast. According to the California Olive Oil Council, as of September 2012, there were over 30,000 acres planted in California for the production of extra virgin olive oil. Also, it is estimated that 3,500 new acres will be planted each year in California through 2020. With such a large amount of land and producers dedicated to their passion for olive oil, it is only fair to protect their hard work against the fraud of neglected standards.


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Beyond the Basics

Connecting Animal Agriculture and Human Health

16 | Winter 2013

Story by Katie Roberti Photos by Stock Images and Katie Roberti



hen thinking about how humans benefit from animals, it’s easy to name the obvious ways animals provide for us, like breakfast, lunch, dinner and ice cream for dessert. However, if we take a closer look, these four-legged farm animals are crucial for so much more than food. The average person doesn’t look at a pig or a cow and think beyond the self-evident. But when animal agriculture is combined with research, it becomes easy to see how animals make critical contributions to human health and physiology. Dr. Daniel Peterson is a professor of molecular physiology and a genomics specialist at Cal Poly. He leads the Animal Science Department in biotechnology and recognizes the benefits humans receive from agricultural animals and their use in research. “Much of what we know about normal and abnormal human physiology we learn from non-human animals,” Peterson said. We can only learn so much from different model organisms, such as mice, given their small size and other physiological differences from humans.

An immense amount can be learned from animals in agriculture though, because their anatomies are similar to humans’. There are countless ways that animals in agriculture and the research of these animals improve and advance life as we know it. Diabetics are a perfect example of a group of people who have benefited from animal agriculture research. People with diabetes are prescribed insulin, either because their bodies do not produce insulin or their bodies do not use insulin properly. Animal insulin was the first type of insulin produced for diabetics. In 1922, the first animal insulin was extracted from the pancreas of a dog according to the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology (FASEB). Not long after that discovery, insulin was taken from the pancreases of harvested pigs and cattle. Up until the 1980s, cattle and pigs saved millions of lives and improved diabetic health. Although animal insulin was the primary source of insulin for more than 50 years, today much has changed. Since animal insulin is made up of proteins

that differ from the human form, the current majority of insulin is instead genetically modified or engineered from human insulin.

“ Much of what we

know about normal and abnormal human physiology we learn from non-human animals.

“Cattle and pigs are full of all kinds of other proteins, which makes the insulin hard to purify. So it is more dangerous if it comes from [a] pig or cow pancreas than if we engineer it back to make human insulin. It also makes the insulin safer and


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more consistent because it is the actual human protein,” Peterson said. Human insulin was first genetically modified in the early 1990s, and its new form has become the main source of insulin for diabetics. Genetically engineered (or modified) organisms in agriculture have been an extremely controversial topic, especially in the past few years. While the downside of genetic engineering is commonly discussed, this type of insulin is just one positive example of how it has and will improve human health. “With any new technology, there are things to watch out for and unknown effects. But the positives that we already have from GMOs completely outweigh the drawbacks. And the potential positives are even greater than what we already have,” retired UC Davis professor Dr. John Mass, DVM shared. Insulin isn’t the only example of the medical benefits humans get from animals in agriculture. Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. Every year around the world, nearly a quarter-million people receive heart 18 | Winter 2013

valve replacements from pigs and cattle. The first pig valve was transplanted over 30 years ago. These valves work for this procedure because pig hearts are close in size and work similarly to human hearts. As published by the Texas Department of Agriculture, former First Lady Barbara Bush is one well-known person who has taken advantage of xenotransplatation. While full organ transplants from animals to humans have yet to be successful, it is believed that one day this will be a possible solution for millions of patients in need. Many livestock species are extremely important models for finding cures of human diseases and animal health, as made clear by the FASEB. Although not yet responsible for helping find a cure to breast cancer, livestock are highly valued in researching why humans get breast cancer and animals don’t. Scientists are using this idea and focusing on studying mammary glands of animals closely related to humans rather than studying mice, which are commonly used in biomedical research. “There’s only so much that we can learn from different model organisms because of just physiological similarities, so a lot

of what we understand about what affects fertility, what affects gestation and what affects lactation, we learn through studying non-human animals,” Peterson said. Many years of research in fertility and gestation of lactating animals is helping improve human lives. Diseases such as smallpox, babesiosis (related to malaria) and Lyme disease are other examples of diseases being cured due to livestock research. One the other hand, one major downside of using animals in agriculture is limited space and increased costs as compared to using rodents. The FASEB fully supports agriculture research to improve human health. They are currently working with Congress to increase and continue funding for this research. Without animals, agriculture and the research connected to these animals, countless lives would be very different. Next time you see a cow grazing or you eat your favorite animal product, just remember that animals are helping provide the answers to improved health across the world. Only time can tell what the next medical breakthrough will be, and agriculture is likely to be at the forefront.



One Man’s Efforts to Ensure His Business and Community Thrive Story and Photos by Taylor Pires


merican agriculture is diverse and bountiful. We are so fortunate to live in a land with a safe and abundant food supply, where choice is encouraged at the marketplace and beyond. Our freedom to choose what we eat is just one right guaranteed to us, due to the hard work of many. In this instance, thanks are not just owed to farmers. We enjoy this freedom, and many more, because of the sacrifices made by American servicemen and women. Among these brave men and women is Eric Boyd, a veteran, Cal Poly Soil Science graduate and farmer. Eric uses his knack for farming and knowledge of soils in his hydroponic greenhouse, while striving to be sustainable and give back to his community. Eric grew up on his family farm in Arroyo Grande, Calif., doing everything from tractor work, to harvesting, to interacting with customers at

farmers’ markets. His path changed when he was 17 and he joined the U.S. Army. After two tours in Iraq, he was wounded, and his path was once again redirected. This time he was led back to his roots. Eric decided to go back to school and pursue agriculture once more. “My uncle said we could use a soil scientist. It spoke to me,” he shared. “I decided to try and do something on my own and make the ag thing work.” Eric’s newest venture began with the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program, which teaches veterans how to grow hydroponic crops and encourages them to develop their own businesses. “It’s a very cool course. I used the business plan from there, took it to the Farm Service Agency to get a loan, and started the greenhouse,” Eric said. He continues to be part of the program and help


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others grow their skills by teaching at the VSAT program in Escondido, Calif. Eric uses his degree and hands-on experience to teach courses like soil erosion, soil chemistry and soil water relations. “I try to give a real basic overview of soils. If these guys are learning about sustainable agriculture, they should know soils,” he explained. Sustainability is a guiding principle in Eric’s operation as well. In being sustainable, he strives to have sound

20 | Winter 2013

environmental practices while being economically and socially responsible. Eric focuses on lowering his ecological footprint through practices like minimizing waste and reclaiming water. Economically, he is building his business weekly by selling produce to local restaurants like Novo and F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining House, in addition to local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Socially, Eric’s efforts are especially admirable. He donates to food banks in his community and gives back to fellow veterans. Recently, Eric reached out to a group of veterans through the San Luis Obispo Vet Center. After visiting the group’s garden plot, he realized he could help. “I have a lot of space and resources for these guys to use,” Eric said. He has offered his greenhouse for the veterans to use in the winter so they can continue to grow their crops. “It’s therapeutic and relaxing when harvesting and transplanting. It’s pretty easygoing work. I thought they would enjoy it,” Eric shared. In addition to sharing his land with the

veterans, Eric also wanted to share his knowledge. He has used his relationship with the Vet Center as a chance to reach out to the people there and teach them what he knows about farming, soils and being sustainable. The veterans have a lot to gain from farming. “It’s something outside of the normal institution setting. Just being together and getting in the dirt can be therapeutic. Some of the same skills learned in the military, like camaraderie and self sufficiency, apply to what we’re doing,” Mike Young, Vet Center counselor, shared. Veteran Evanz Cowan echoes Mike’s sentiments, as he also enjoys the camaraderie working in the garden provides. “I like growing stuff, I always have. It’s cool to be working with vets of different operations. The Vet Center is good for returning veterans, especially veterans of the Vietnam era,” he shared. Working in Eric’s greenhouse will allow the veterans to continue to improve their well-being, build their skills and strengthen their relationships with each other. Eric strives to leave this world better than he found it, not only in his farming practices, but also in giving back to his community. He exemplifies the true American spirit of hard work, dedication and following your dreams. The efforts he has made thus far have certainly positively impacted the future of agriculture, and the lives of his fellow veterans.


Agriculture Education Hits the Road

Story by Kenna Lewis Photos by Kenna Lewis and Dr. Scott Vernon


n April of 2010, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) unveiled its latest efforts to promote agricultural education across the state: the California Agriculture License Plate (Cal Ag Plate). Similar to many other commemorative plates found on highways around the nation, the goal of the Cal Ag Plate is to provide additional funding for local programs. Over the past couple of years, agricultural education has suffered across California due to a fluctuating economy and numerous state budget cuts. This program will help replenish these funds, ensuring that tomorrow’s youth understands the importance of agriculture. The design, which was unveiled by the CDFA, features the words “food, fiber, fuel, flora” inscribed atop a sunrise and green field on the left of the plate, with the word “agriculture” stretched along the bottom beneath the license number. This design was created during the earliest discussions of the Cal Ag Plate, long before the program actually kicked off. “The idea originally came up roughly ten years ago,” said Jim Aschwanden, the Executive Director of the California Agriculture Teachers Association (CATA). “But legislature at the time was

very down on license plates, making it impossible to get one.” Upon request of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), specialty license plate logos were required to be smaller than before, making them less desirable to many. Additionally, a minimum of 7,500 plates had to be pre-ordered before the program could be approved and launched by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Regardless of the challenge, the Cal Ag Plate succeeded, and has been embraced by students, teachers and agriculturists statewide. As of April 2012, after two years of plate sales and promotions, the 7,500 minimum was met. The California DMV officially recognized the program, allowing customers to purchase the plates directly from their website. By the beginning of 2013, the plates hit the road. “From this point on, it’s all positive,” Aschwanden said. “It all benefits agricultural education.” During the initial sales, a regular license plate cost $50, with a yearly renewal fee of $40, while a specialized plate cost $98 with a renewal fee of $70. Aside from a small fee deducted for DMV transaction purposes, the yearly renewal fees are to be split among agricultural education, career training and youth agcircle

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How much do the plates cost? The cost of a sequentially numbered plate (random six numbers selected by the DMV) is $50 at the time of purchase, with an annual renewal fee of $40. For a personalized plate (six characters maximum), the cost is $98 with a $78 yearly renewal fee. Are the fees tax deductible? A portion of the Cal Ag plate purchase price and renewal fee is considered a charitable contribution and is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. If I already have a personalized plate, can I keep my configuration? If your personalized plates have six characters or less, you can keep your configuration. Can I get a Cal Ag Plate if I currently have a disabled plate? DMV allows disabled persons and disabled veterans to display Special Interest License Plates only in lieu of DP or DV plates. In such cases, a parking placard must be displayed in the vehicle to receive the parking privileges. Why do I need to list my DMV office? You will need to turn in your current license plates in order to receive your Cal Ag License plate, so please list the DMV office location where you would like to pick up your new plates and turn in your old ones. You will be notified when your new plates is ready for pick up. 22 | Winter 2013

leadership groups. Karen Ross, Secretary of the CDFA, is in the process of setting up an advisory committee to determine exactly which specific organizations will receive this money. The committee will consist of representatives from various groups, including a Future Farmers of America representative and a California agricultural education representative. Once these groups have been solidified, they will receive payment on a proportional basis, benefiting the groups with the highest Cal Ag Plate sales. In addition to the financial benefits, the hope for many is that these plates will serve as a reminder of the importance of educating youth about where their food comes from. “Agricultural education breaks the bounds of the traditional education system. It teaches students in a way that emphasizes leadership while staying true to its agricultural roots,” said Kayla Nichol, an Agricultural Business freshman at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. “The Ag License Plate

program ensures that this form of education will continue to thrive and be present for future generations.” Although the program has already shown to be successful, goals for the future are even greater. “We really want to see the numbers grow,” Aschwanden stated. “We would love to see this number get to 20,000 or 30,000 plates, and we think that’s very doable given FFA alumni alone.” The importance of agriculture and leadership development must be understood and appreciated by youth. These license plates will bring today’s agriculturists one-step closer to meeting the endless demands of our growing population. “It should be a great source of pride for the people involved in the industry to have one of these on their vehicle, showing their support for agriculture,” Aschwanden shared. To purchase a license plate or find more information, please visit http:// or

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COFFEE AND COPIES Story by Rachel Dewar Photos by Carrie Isaacson and Taylor Pires


n true Learn by Doing fashion, Cal Poly thoroughly prepares students for hands-on experiences through internships. Internships serve as the perfect way for students to work within a career field they could possibly have an interest in and gain an understanding of what it takes to make it in the “real world.” Featured below are two students who had successful internships this past summer as they pursued their career interests.

Kyle McDonald graduated from Cal Poly in June, 2013 with a degree in Agricultural Science and a concentration in Agricultural Communication. Upon graduation, he went to Minneapolis, Minn. to work for broadhead, an agriculturefocused marketing and communications agency. Kyle’s skills as a communicator earned him a position there as a video production intern. Through his internship, he had the opportunity to fly to six different states and make videos to promote many aspects within the industry. This included working for the Mosaic Fertilizer Company, a log-rolling company and even United Way Airlines. He also had the opportunity to work with broadhead’s California clients, including the California Avocado Commission. “Being with industry professionals on a consistent basis really opened my eyes to how big the scope of agriculture is,” Kyle shared about his experiences. Kyle also explained that Cal Poly prepared him for this position with the fast-paced workflow, group projects and hands-on learning. “There were times when I had to make videos about agricultural products I had no prior knowledge of. My Cal Poly background gave me a fundamental knowledge base that is easy to build on, which in turn helps me educate myself far more quickly and effectively.” Hard work and know-how landed Kyle a full-time position at the end of his internship experience. “I love it here. It’s a great atmosphere, good hours and I work on fun projects,” Kyle said of his position as a Junior Video Director/Editor with broadhead. He attributes his successes to Cal Poly, for presenting him with the opportunity and preparing him for the experience. Nicole Billington is a third-year Agricultural Business Major. Her internship took place in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill, where she interned for Congressman Doug LaMalfa. Over the summer, she spent the majority of her time working on agriculture policy issues. “Policy plays a critical role in our industry, and working on agriculture policy issues allowed me to learn about agriculture from a distinctly different perspective than other internships. At the same time, I was able to capitalize on my existing industry knowledge,” Nicole explained. Nicole arrived at an exciting time because the Farm Bill had recently failed on the House Floor, so the atmosphere was lively to say the least. “Everyone you spoke with, regardless of political affiliation, was fired up about the Farm Bill. That opened up a lot of opportunity for dialogue in the form of briefings, legislative correspondence and media coverage. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to take part in that discussion,” Nicole said. Aside from being fortunate enough to work on Capitol Hill, Nicole was also able to soak up our nation’s history during her time in D.C. “Running every day office errands, I would find myself walking on the same staircase Presidents had, before giving their State of the Union Addresses, or through the beautiful Rotunda of the Capitol building. It blew me away every single day,” she described. Internships open up a world of opportunity. Cal Poly provides students with the skills they need for internships and careers upon graduation, as well as the courage to step outside of their comfort zones. These were only two of the many success stories that have evolved from the drive, passion and knowledge of Cal Poly agriculture students. 24 | Winter 2013


a GIANT connection Story by Harrison Reilly Photos provided by The Giants Community Fund and Kaitlyn Defanti


he San Francisco Giants are one of the most successful sports franchises in Major League Baseball. Having won two championships in three years, they are currently the envy of the league. And what seems like a continuing theme in every industry, behind the black and orange of the Giants lies a little bit of green and gold. Matt Hanson, a recent graduate of the Cal Poly Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration (RPTA) Department and Kaitlyn Defanti, a fourth-year RPTA student, were two of the 11 Cal Poly students that worked as ambassadors to the San Francisco Giants’ Junior Giants Program and the Giants

Community Fund. The Junior Giants program, in its 19th year, provides underprivileged children in low-income communities the opportunity to stay active in the summer, while reinforcing ideas of character, education, health and violence prevention. The league is for both boys and girls and serves over 20,000 children from Medford, Ore. to Sparks, Nev. The jerseys and funding are provided by the Giants Community Fund, which is one of the most successful charity programs in professional sports. The student ambassadors help with data collection and provide analysis to the Giants Community Fund on the progress of agcircle

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each league. Defanti served as a liaison between the Giants Community Fund and her assigned Junior Giants leagues in San Ramon, Calif. and in Marin City, Calif. “For the first portion of the season, I assisted with the implementation of Character Development, Education, Health and Violence Prevention programs,” Defanti said. “For the latter portion of the season, I continued to work on the leagues and programs, but also began to serve as a research assistant collecting surveys and interviews from players, parents and coaches to evaluate the program overall.” Defanti was selected from a large pool of applicants to hold the position from May to August. “There was an online application. I interviewed at AT&T Park and had an additional phone interview before getting the internship,” she said. “I believe there was a large pool considering there were approximately 50 ambassadors total, covering close to 90 leagues.” Defanti found the internship very rewarding, especially at the end of her internship, when she attended an end of the year festival for the program at AT&T Park. “Junior Giants teams who read to the Home Run Level in the Round the Bases Reading Program were invited to the festival. Activities included playing on the field and rotating through education, health and violence prevention stations.” Matt Hanson was originally a Junior Giants Ambassador in 2012, but the next summer he was promoted to Lead Ambassador of the program. “My exact role as the Lead Ambassador of the program was to provide guidance and assistance to the other Junior

Giants Ambassadors while also helping to expand the ambassador program,” Hanson explained. “While each of our 50 ambassadors were assigned to an individual league, part of my responsibilities included ensuring that they were keeping up with data collection, that everything in their league was going well, and helping to troubleshoot any problems that arose. At the same time, I was acting as a liaison [for the Junior Giants front offices] to the leagues that have yet to be assigned ambassadors.” Hanson’s duties had him traveling up and down the Pacific Coast, checking the progress of the various leagues. Hanson is currently transcribing interviews for his senior project and creating an analysis report for the Giants Community Fund. The man behind Cal Poly’s connection to the Giants Community Fund is associate professor of the RPTA Department, Dr. Brian Greenwood. Greenwood manages the evaluation program that some of Cal Poly’s students work in. This provides a great internship possibility for students in the RPTA Department. “It was actually Dr. Greenwood who played the largest role in helping me procure the internship. After working as a normal ambassador back in the summer of 2012, and expressing my interest to Dr. Greenwood in conducting my senior project on the data we had collected, he began asking me about internship

“I can’t think of anything more rewarding and humbling than that.”

26 | Winter 2013

possibilities, goals [and] where I saw myself after senior year,” Hanson shared. “Essentially, in conjunction with the original ambassador program, he and the Junior Giants decided to create the position of Lead Ambassador for me. I can’t thank Dr. Greenwood enough for the opportunity, and the support he has given me since I met him during my sophomore year in 2010.” While many tend to only look at the athletic accomplishments of the San Francisco Giants team, it’s important to note that the Giants give so much back to the community. The program not only benefits underprivileged children, but also provides a career building and rewarding experience for Cal Poly students. “It was very rewarding overall especially receiving positive comments from parents regarding their appreciation for the program,” Defanti said. “I have recognized the amount of preparation that goes into programs like this, as well as the significance in providing these kind of opportunities that are accessible for all children.” “Getting to spend days on end watching little kids play baseball is pretty rewarding in itself; even more so when you realize that most of these children otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to play sports if Junior Giants didn’t exist,” Hanson said. “Helping to bring joy into the lives of 20,000 children? I can’t think of anything more rewarding and humbling than that.”

Story by Corinne Madison Photo provided by Amanda Meneses

Fin din g Passion in Produce



urple sweet potatoes, hand-battered onion rings and sun dried tomato soup. This is just a small taste of what was enjoyed at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) annual Fresh Summit International Convention and Exposition. From October 16-20, four students from Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences attended the produce industry’s largest meeting in New Orleans. Industry members from all around the world were in attendance to meet, discuss, explore and reflect on all things produce. Agricultural Communication students Maddie Dunlap, Amanda Meneses, Alyssa Moore and Corinne Madison, took part in the Pack Family Career Pathways program, along with advisor Megan Silcott, Director of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. The program was created in 2004 by Jay Pack, former owner and CEO of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc., and the PMA. It is designed to connect the best and brightest students from around the world with industry leaders. “The world of produce has become, and will continue, to grow more complex,” Pack shared. “With this complexity, we will need individuals with new skills in order to advance our businesses.” Through the program, each student received one-on-one mentoring with a leader from the industry. Additionally, students were involved in customized training including an industry overview and a business etiquette session, career panel discussions, and networking with industry professionals at workshops, social events and on the exposition floor. This year, 41 students joined from five universities within the United States, as well as universities from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Cal Poly is one of the original universities, globally, that has sent students to the Career Pathways program since it’s beginning, 10 years ago.

One of the most impressive aspects of the convention was the exposition. Over 4,000 companies and associations had displays throughout the convention hall, with an abundance of creativity and food. Some booths were two stories and had enormous rotating signs hanging from the ceiling, while almost every booth had food or free S.W.A.G. (“stuff we all get”) ready to hand out. From shrimp salad to cranberry sauce, cocktails to green smoothies, no one walked away with an empty stomach! Beyond the generous industry members and their dynamic products, the reoccurring theme for the weekend was passion. Over the course of the weekend, the Cal Poly students could clearly see how passionate the members of the PMA are about their industry. It was remarkable seeing over 2,000 people gather in the first general session of the convention on Friday morning, while 18,000 more walked the exposition floor. Everyone treated each other like family (even their competitors) and they all shared the same goal: to supply consumers with the freshest and healthiest produce in the world. “Possibly the most rewarding experience at PMA was connecting with Cal Poly alumni in the produce industry,” Dunlap said. “One of my favorite aspects of Cal Poly is the wide network of generous alumni. This has never been more apparent than walking the show floor and interacting with Cal Poly alumni who are now produce professionals.” The anxiety of finding employment out of graduation is creeping upon Cal Poly seniors. There are so many opportunities in the agriculture industry that it can be overwhelming as to where to turn. But PMA’s Fresh Summit shows that the produce industry always needs fresh talent. After the invaluable education received at Cal Poly, students are prime candidates to enter the ever-evolving produce industry.


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A Spark of Passion Igniting Opportunities for CAFES Students

Story by Maddison Easley Photos provided by Brady Dubois and Ben Shahbazi


ildland fire is a hot topic, particularly during the sizzling summer months. It receives a considerable amount of media coverage with stories, updates, facts and concerns. Amidst the media attention, the perfect storm has been brewing and creating threatening conditions throughout the Western states. Drought, an increasing wildlandurban interface, and summer lightning storms, among other factors, make for a detrimental combination. Fortunately, Californians have the most critical component on their side – a skilled and dependable workforce of firefighters. These men and women endure tough and threatening circumstances to prevent the entire state from being engulfed in a devastating fiery rage. Numerous Cal Poly representatives, both alumni and current students, were amongst the brave souls defending and protecting California’s forests this past summer. Through teamwork, confidence, an appreciation for the outdoors and a

28 | Winter 2013

positive outlook, one specific group of firefighters utilized skills gained from their hands-on education. Another season for the local crew kicked off on a sunny Saturday this past April. More than 50 motivated individuals pushed themselves to their limits in hopes of gaining one of 20 available positions on the seasonal wildfire crew, recognized as the “Santa Lucia Crew” or “Crew 7.” Within weeks, the results from the grueling tryouts were announced: of the 20 members who made the crew, 14 are current Cal Poly students, two are alumni, two are Cuesta students, and two are Allan Hancock students. Aged 18 to 27 years, these men created a powerhouse of skill, teamwork and drive to accomplish the challenges presented to them. “Everyone had a good mood which drove us to work harder. At the Aspen Fire, there were Hotshot Crews and other ‘more qualified’ crews, but we were chosen to perform the better tasks,” said Brady Dubois, a current Cal Poly Forestry student who was one of four sawyers (team members assigned a chainsaw to cut brush and trees) on Crew 7 this year. Crew 7 is a Type 2 hand crew, signifying “minimal to advanced experience and training” with duties focusing on “handline construction, mop-up,

rehabilitation, and forest maintenance,” according to USDA’s Hot Jobs. The Santa Lucia Crew is one of two crews stationed in the Los Padres National Forest and employed by the Forest Service under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Seasonal fire crews cover the Western states, but student involvement makes Crew 7 unique. Coined as the “Cal Poly Thermos” in 1973 and later the “Cal Poly Crew,” these firefighters were initially distinguished by a shorter season in comparison to other suppression resources. The shorter season aligned with the Cal Poly quarter system and allowed college students relevant work during the summer. Current professor Doug Aversano shared, “[Santa Lucia Crew firefighters] tend to be physically able, highly motivated and trainable from the crew supervisor level.” Aversano’s opinion is highly credible, having served as the Santa Lucia Crew supervisor from 1987 to 2001 before establishing the Monterey Hotshots, a specialized team of exceptionally skilled wildland firefighters. In 2008, Cal Poly was fortunate to gain the seasoned professional in the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department (NRES) within the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences (CAFES). When asked about the courses offered to

“This is one of the best Learn By Doing programs that exists here.”


help prepare students interested in the fire industry, Aversano said, “This is one of the best Learn by Doing programs that exists here.” Key concepts about fire ecology, fuel management, fire prediction analysis, weather, suppression techniques, and numerous other core topics are covered in the classroom. However, the students must learn to walk before they can run. Safety is of paramount importance, creating a foundation for all basic learning and skill development. Once a solid understanding of the perilous nature of the work is gained, students secure hands-on experience by visiting local fire stations, cutting handline, using equipment, and talking with

professionals. In fact, following successful completion of the course NR 204 “Wildland Fire Control,” the basic wildland firefighter certification requirements for the USDA Forest Service are met. This class served as a primer and stepping stone for many students interested in fighting fires, including some of the men on Crew 7. From the perspective of an enthusiastic wildland fire fighter, a 10-day tour on the Aspen Fire produced a remarkable

Work Hard

experience. Ten days of hiking atop the charred mountains of the southern Sierra Nevada’s. Ten days of intense physical exertion. Ten days of sleeping on uneven, hard, cold ground for just a few hours each night; and 10 days of excitement, bonding and unforgettable memories made with the best of company. The very group that loaded helicopters, mopped up fires, cut line and whittled sticks, could be found two months later in the Kennedy Library studying for exams, practicing climbing at the Logging Unit and surfing at Morro Bay. From summertime hero to dedicated student, the men who served on Crew 7 continue to thrive in multiple facets of their lives. They exemplify the lessons learned in and out of Cal Poly’s classrooms, and exhibit the rugged and strong-willed spirit of a Mustang.

Pray H arder

Building Christ centered relationships in the College of Agriculture

Q Fridays 12-1 pm R ||


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What’s All The Buzz About?

Story by Jordan Dunn Photos provided by Parrish Bees and Jordan Dunn


ees can provide a lot more to a person than just honey. When it comes to Susanne Parrish, bees have provided her with a way to become a positive influence on local agriculture. Susanne, an Agricultural Systems Management senior, has cared for bee colonies since high school through Future Farmers of America (FFA) projects. She first became interested in bees as a 4-H member, where she took part in an entomology project. Similar to what her father did, Susanne started her project in high school by collecting bee colonies 30 | Winter 2013

that had relocated themselves to some rather inconvenient places, such as homes and offices. “I like the adrenalin rush of working with bees. I go out to people’s houses or parks, get the bees in a cardboard box, and bring them home with me,” Parrish explained. “I have a bunch of bee hives at home, which is where I transfer them to.” Being involved in the Morgan HillsSobrato FFA Chapter, Susanne was able to utilize her bee colonies as an FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). “I was the first one in my FFA chapter to

I like the adrenalin rush of working with bees!

STUDENT ADVENTURES do my part in saving them since they play such an important role in agriculture,” Parrish explained. “The sustainable agriculture aspect is a huge driving force in my operation and career.” Much of what Susanne has learned about sustainability came from the beekeeping class she took at Cal Poly with Mr. Scott Jeffreys. She considers Jeffreys to be one of her greatest mentors, as he works hard to implement sustainable practices in the campus apiary. Along with caring for the bee colonies, Susanne also makes products such as honey, candles and lip balm. “I was always interested in making the [lip balm], candles and soap,” Susanne

Susanne, a more informed public can come together to help fight CCD and raise awareness about the importance of honeybees. “I don’t believe in just talking about sustainable things, I believe in getting my hands dirty and doing sustainable things,” Parrish said. If you are interested in beekeeping and supporting the bee industry, it’s important to get in contact with your local bee guild or local beekeepers association. Even something as simple as planting bee-friendly plants can help improve the declining honeybee population.

“ I am a young

female in an old man’s hobby.

start a bee keeping project,” Parrish said. As her FFA project continued to grow, Susanne was able to take it to the next level and turn it into a legitimate business in 2009 – Parrish Bees. With this, she was then able to use her colonies as a tool for education among local groups. “I would go to the fair and always have poster boards all about bees,” Parrish said. “It’s very important to educate the public.” Susanne’s passion for the bee industry, coupled with her enthusiasm for sustainability, led her to make her hives as eco-friendly as possible. Her hive-stands, bottom boards, outer covers and other hive assemblies are made from mostly reused material. She also refrains from using pesticides to treat pests such as ants and mites. “I researched bees and found out that they were being incorporated into the Endangered Species list. So, I wanted to

said. “It’s like a family project, now that I’m away from home.” Parrish and her family have sold their products at farmers markets and are now mostly handling sales through their Parrish Bees Facebook account. Despite making the various honey products, the main focus of her operation is not sales. Susanne’s main goal with her colonies is to help improve the general welfare of bees for the future of the beekeeping industry. “When I collect swarms, I don’t charge a fee. Instead, I ask for a donation to the local bee guild,” Susanne said. “Their donation goes toward bringing in professional speakers to further educate guild members as well as towards purchasing equipment that members can share.” The need for informed beekeepers is steadily increasing, as the national bee population continues to suffer. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is causing bee colonies to disappear, which is potentially devastating to many agricultural industries. “A large portion of what’s on your plate comes from bees,” Parrish shared. Through the efforts of individuals like

For more information about Parrish Bees, please follow the QR code below.


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agcircle magazine

Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 Scan to view our blog.

Ag Circle Winter 2013 Vol. 32, Issue 1  

Please enjoy our latest student publication!

Ag Circle Winter 2013 Vol. 32, Issue 1  

Please enjoy our latest student publication!