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cal poly, san luis obispo winter 2012


Disney Internships Students experience Disney magic!

Playing with Food What have students been cooking up in the pilot plant?

Cal Poly Agribusiness The professor who has been here all along












New Cal Poly Rodeo Coach


A whole lot of hospitality


Students win national marketing contest















Cal Poly Brings Compost to Life

Exotic animal enterprise

CAFES’s secret weapon

The difference is undeniable

Animal Science celebrates an era

A reflection of Cal Poly Agribusiness

New Food Science internship program

The growing compost program

Announcing a global food forum

Sustaining agriculture and cultivating tourists



Alumni offer advice on networking

27 21st CENTURY CATTLE DRIVE Distinctions and difficulties of an unassuming industry


MAY WE INTEREST YOU IN SOME WINE? Social media in the wine industry

agcircle Volume 31, Issue 1, Winter 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 Jennifer Ray Faculty Adviser Megan Silcott Associate Editors Mandy Brazil Amanda Meneses Taylor Pires Writers Malorie Bankhead, Mandy Brazil, Peter Delle, Maddie Dunlap, Joshua Fridlund, Amanda Meneses, Taylor Pires, Tatiana Prestininzi, Jennifer Ray, Emma Sandquist, Lane SantosKarney, Aimee Shaner, Trevor Surrock, Jessica Will Photographers Mandy Brazil, Peter Delle, Maddie Dunlap, Joshua Fridlund, Cadet Anders Helgeson, Chris Leschinsky, Kyle McDonald, Amanda Meneses, Brittany Teixeira Graphic Designers Alex Beeler, Mandy Brazil, Morgan Dewar, Amanda Meneses, Jennifer Ray 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.




f we could describe the Winter 2012 issue with just one word, it would be ‘unique.’ We decided to embrace what makes Cal Poly different from any other school and what makes California agriculture unlike any other industry. We hope you’ll discover a few reasons why our home is so special. We use the word, ‘home,’ because it describes how we feel here in the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. This is our first issue as a new editorial staff and we have received much guidance and support. Cal Poly has a unique way of connecting the new and old, the present and the past in a way that benefits all. We have experienced this in the Brock Center, in our classroom experiences and in those Cal Poly Learn by Doing moments that occur outside the classroom. Our cover shot was taken by Associate Editor, Amanda Meneses. The star is Blanca, a family member’s Hereford cow. The photo features an ordinary animal in an interesting and genuine way, the same way we tell our stories. Our writers have helped us compile creative and innovative stories along with those of rich history and timeless traditions. We hope you enjoy this issue of agcircle and many more to come.


Amanda, Taylor, Mandy and Jennifer 4 | Winter 2012


Cal Poly Rodeo: The Legacy Continues Story by Lane Santos-Karney

About the author: Lane Santos-Karney is a sophomore Agricultural Communications major. This past summer, Lane was honored as the “Rookie of the Year” for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in Casper, Wyo. His horse, Captain, was selected as “Horse of the Year.”


al Poly Rodeo has been the standard of the West for over 70 years. Cal Poly Rodeo has earned 44 national titles, making it one of the most awarded programs in National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) history. The first Cal Poly rodeo was held April 8, 1939 on the C Bar G Ranch near Victorville, Calif. The inaugural Poly Royal Rodeo was held on May 18-19, 1951. It is the support of people within the college, the pride of the Rodeo Boosters, motivation of the rodeo student-athletes and love of the western way of life that has kept Cal Poly Rodeo on the map for three quarters of a century. Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, Dr. Mark Shelton, is a strong supporter of Cal Poly Rodeo. “Cal Poly has a long and proud tradition of collegiate rodeo competition, going back to our beginning as a charter member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), the rodeo equivalent of the NCAA. It was natural for an ag-focused school… to support rodeo, as many Cal Poly students came from farming/ranching backgrounds and were attracted to the strong agriculture program here.” In order to maintain the Cal Poly Rodeo program’s winning ways and provide positive national recognition to Cal Poly, it takes strong leadership at the top. Tony Branquinho served as the Cal Poly Rodeo Coach for the last six years. This past spring, Branquinho stepped away to become more involved in his family’s ranching and farming business in Los Alamos, Calif. Cal Poly Rodeo welcomes Landon Sullivan as the new man in charge. Here’s a little more about the man who impacted students’ lives over the last six years and some insight about the man who will shape its future. Personally, I believe Tony Branquinho absolutely embodied the winning mindset of Cal Poly Rodeo. He was always more than a coach. He was a mentor, a friend and always supported his students’ endeavors. He could teach students something about life without saying anything. Shelton said, “Tony was a great mentor to our rodeo athletes and won Western Region NIRA Coach-of-the-Year twice. I appreciate Tony's professional approach to leading our rodeo program and making sure the students represented Cal Poly well, which they surely did.” Daniel Rice, fourth-year Ag Systems Management major said, “Tony was a great influence in my life. He helped me try to get ahead not only in the arena but also in school and life.” agcircle | 5

Here is an excerpt of Tony’s interview: LSK: Tell me about your time as the Cal Poly Rodeo Coach. TB: In my time as the rodeo coach here at Cal Poly, I have had the chance to work with some amazing people and extraordinary student-athletes. I have had the opportunity to watch the growth of so many young men and women not only in the rodeo arena, but [also] in life. LSK: How many titles did Cal Poly Rodeo win in that time? TB: In my time as coach, the Cal Poly Women’s team won five West Coast Regional titles from 2008-2012 and placed in the top ten in the nation three times (with their best finish coming in 2009 when they won fourth in the nation). The men’s team was Reserve West Coast Region Champions four times and placed in the top ten twice. Along with the team accomplishments in my tenure, Cal Poly Rodeo student-athletes won 23 West Coast Regional Championship titles. LSK: Did you have College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) qualifiers every year? TB: Being the academic powerhouse that Cal Poly is, I was very fortunate to have some amazing student-athletes who not only excelled in the classroom, but excelled

in college rodeo as well. In my six years at the University we sent an average of eight student-athletes to represent and compete at the CNFR in Casper, Wyo. I had the opportunity to take the best that Cal Poly Rodeo had and see them excel on a national level competing against the best college rodeo has to offer. It was a huge honor to see the green and gold represented by so many outstanding young men and women. LSK: What were some highlights from your six years as the Cal Poly Rodeo Coach? TB: I have had so many great moments and memories in my time as the Rodeo Coach at Cal Poly. I am proud of all that we have accomplished inside the arena for sure, but one of the things that I am most proud of is how serious Cal Poly Rodeo students are about their education. I have so many highlights, ranging from the women’s team dominating the region for five years in a row, to the 2012 men’s team coming together in the clutch at the last rodeo of the year to punch our ticket to the 2012 CNFR in Casper, Wyo. to standing on the stage of the CNFR for my last time getting a picture with one of the most outstanding young men I have ever met inside or outside the arena, receiving his Rookie of the Year Award. Like I said, there are so many amazing memories and

highlights that I could go on forever, but I believe one of the greatest highlights is the bond I have built with many of my students. I realize that I was more than a coach to many of these young adults and I appreciate the friendships that have been created by my opportunity to lead such wonderful people. I love to get phone calls from past students who just want to talk and catch up to see what is going on in my life and share what has been happening in theirs. Just to give an example of how much these bonds mean to me, this past summer I had one of my former bull riders, Josh Verburg, show up at the rodeo in Santa Barbara just to help my 5-yearold daughter, Kylee, get on in the mutton busting. Kylee was two when Josh finished his college rodeo career at Cal Poly, but he has remained a close friend of the family since our time together as part of the Cal Poly Rodeo family. LSK: What are your plans now? TB: Now that the sun has set on my time as Rodeo Coach at Cal Poly, I am planning to go back and help to continue to grow our family’s ranching and farming operation. I am looking forward to spending more time with both my daughters, Cersten, 16, and Kylee, 5, who is following in her big sister’s footsteps with her love of rodeo. I plan to spend more time with my wife, Sharla, who was the greatest support I had in my time as coach. She understood the reasons for the late nights getting home from running practice, to being gone on the weekends to attend college rodeos. I plan to take her away this year for our seventh anniversary, since we have missed all of them with me being gone to the college finals the past six years. I also plan to continue coaching and giving roping and riding lessons. I believe that coaching and educating is in my blood. It makes me who I am.

Left: Coach Landon Sullivan at the Rodeo Unit. Right: Eight student-athletes represented Cal Poly at the 2012 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 10-16 in Casper, Wyo. 6 | Winter 2012


My primary goal

is to provide the greatest college rodeo experience for Cal Poly college rodeo student-athletes.

” Landon Sullivan now leads the Cal Poly Rodeo program into the new season. Shelton is looking forward to Landon getting settled in, “I'm excited about our new coach, Landon Sullivan, who joined us this summer after leading rodeo programs at Northern Arkansas and Cochise College. Landon is a smart, hard-working young man. … As he learns about Cal Poly and we learn about him, I'm confident he will uphold the Cal Poly tradition of rodeo excellence.” As we welcome Landon to Cal Poly, here is a little more about the new sheriff in town: LSK: Coming from Arkansas, what has been the best part about the San Luis Obispo area? LS: The best part of our transition has been the people, welcoming us so warmly. The climate, the beach and overall feel of this community is fantastic. The best part was the way we were welcomed by the college, the students, the Pearce, Madonna and Garcia families.

LSK: Tell me about your family. LS: Allison and I have been married for eight years. We were married in Huachuca City, Ariz. while I was fulfilling the duties as an agriculture instructor and rodeo coach at Cochise College and managing a local cattle ranch. We were blessed with our daughter, Lainey, in April of 2009. LSK: What are your biggest goals as the Cal Poly Rodeo Coach? LS: My primary goal is to provide the greatest college rodeo experience for Cal Poly college rodeo student-athletes. I believe the experience should be the opportunity to gain a post-secondary level education, which will provide rewarding career opportunities, while actively practicing, competing and engaging in the sport of college rodeo. I also hope to provide an educated perspective of our sport to our Cal Poly community, improve horsemanship and create learning environments to continue the winning tradition of this program.

LSK: What are you bringing to Cal Poly Rodeo? LS: Energy, vision, motivation, direction and whatever is taken…there is no teaching without learning and learning without teaching…I can only give or bring what is taken. LSK: What are your expectations for the Cal Poly Rodeo Team this year? LS: I have very high expectations of this group. I studied the standings and am aware of the success of our students as well as the long time success of this program; but, most importantly, after actually being able to observe the talent exhibited from these student-athletes at practice, I expect our team will represent our college, the community, our state and college rodeo very well in the classroom, the arena and throughout their lives.

agcircle | 7

Magic, Hospitality

A Little Bit of

A Whole Lot Of

Story by Taylor Pires

8 | Winter 2012

STUDENT ADVENTURES calls the experience the “best four months of [her] life.” Beyond playing in the parks to their hearts’ content, they also had the chance to attend special events like a Cinco de Mayo party with the characters, and an exclusive night at the waterpark with a DJ and allyou-can-eat buffet. Bickel and Lepp were also fortunate enough to live in the Disney dorms with other cast members from England and Puerto Rico. Bickel said one of her favorite parts of the experience was meeting and working with cast members from all over and learning about their cultures. Along with giving the ladies a chance to experience other cultures, Disney also helped them broaden their

No One Does HospitalitY Like DisneY Does.


magine spending four months living in the place “where dreams come true,” staying in “Disney dorms” with friends from other countries, and socializing with Mickey and Minnie when you’re not working the front desk of one of the largest resorts in the world. For Ali Bickel and Amy Lepp, this was reality. Bickel and Lepp are both recent graduates of the Cal Poly Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration (RPTA) department. They were accepted into the Disney College Program and spent four months, April to August 2012, learning the ins and outs of how Disney World does hospitality. The Disney College Program gives students of all majors the opportunity to take courses such as Corporate Communications, Human Resource Management and Marketing You: Personal and Career Development Strategies. The program also offers seminars that are more Disney specific, such as Exploring Disney Heritage and Exploring Guest Service. The students, or “cast members,” also work for Disney World in areas ranging from operations to recreation and everything in between. Both Bickel and Lepp were a part of the hospitality staff at the “All Star Resorts,” which has more than 5,000 rooms. They mainly worked at the front desk where they catered to their guests’ every need. Bickel said beyond gaining experience in the hospitality industry, they were able to gain another transferrable skill. The two can now perform a basic check-in and check-out entirely in Spanish. This unexpected skill was gained through the influx of Latin tour groups visiting Disney World throughout the summer. According to the ladies, the tour groups were another reason why there was never a typical day working for Disney. Bickel also recalls how their “homework” included going to as many parks as possible so they could give guests personal recommendations. Disney takes their role in making dreams come true very seriously. “Disney is really big on guest services… they are so focused on making sure their guests are happy,” Lepp said. Disney is big on making their cast members happy too. As if working in such a magical place wasn’t enough, Bickel and Lepp were admitted into all of the Disney World parks for free. No wonder Lepp

professional horizons through networking opportunities. Bickel enjoyed the meet and greets with associates at Epcot, one of the four theme parks at Disney World, and making connections with managers that could give her recommendations to other resorts. Dr. Bill Hendricks, RPTA Department Head, said he appreciates the college program for opening up a lot of doors for students and refining their customer service skills. He also adds the program opens doors for Cal Poly because of the relationship the department is fostering with Disney. Hendricks hopes other students will follow suit and take advantage of the opportunity. Bickel and Hendricks agree a Cal Poly education makes students competitive candidates for the college program because of the emphasis on

project-based learning and hands-on experience. Among all the fun and the demands of working in hospitality, the ladies learned more about themselves and took away new skills and new outlooks. Lepp said she, “Learned how to work with people and make the best of every situation.” She also feels fortunate to have witnessed the prime example Disney World sets in achieving quality customer service. Bickel agreed, “No one does hospitality like Disney does.” Bickel learned a great deal about hospitality and thinks she could work at resorts full-time now. “I found that I really enjoy working with people,” Bickel said. Lepp plans to use her experience in the classroom as she continues her education to become a RPTA professor or academic adviser. Bickel highly recommends the Disney College Program to other students and adds that any major can find interest in Disney. Disney also offers professional internships in a wide variety of areas, including communications/public relations, engineering, animation, marketing/promotions and many more. So there you have it, the Disney magic is for everyone! All majors are welcome to apply for Disney’s internships or to the college program and come away with new experiences and treasured memories like Amy Lepp and Ali Bickel did. After all, Disney World is “the place where dreams come true.” For more information about the Disney College Program: For more information about Disney Professional Internships: default/

Left to right: Ali Bickel and Amy Lepp agcircle | 9




uerto Rico prides itself on 270 miles of white-sand beaches, pleasant tropical temperatures never hitting triple digits, and rich, Spanish influenced cuisine. How badly do you wish you were there right now? Four Cal Poly students didn’t have to wish. They had the opportunity of a lifetime to immerse themselves into the Puerto Rican culture with the Agribusiness Department. Teammates Brittany Teixeira, Shelby Sisk, Alex Bassi and Sean Maxson competed at the Food Distribution Research Society (FDRS) conference October 13-17. Each year the conference is held at a different location. This year, those attending had the chance to experience something a bit different than a typical conference location: Puerto Rico. The team prepared for the contest by practicing with mock case studies. The final case study the team prepared before the contest was to, in six hours, compile a marketing plan for Pan Sobao, Puerto Rican bread. Once the six hours were up, the team presented their marketing plan to a panel of Cal Poly faculty members. Brittany Teixeira said, “That’s what helped us, I felt like, the most. We had already practiced and done it at least once before the contest.” The team arrived to the contest Saturday morning, unaware of what product they would soon be marketing. Cal Poly was one of seven teams at the contest, including the University of Kentucky, Texas A&M, Utah State University, University of Idaho, University of Minnesota and California State University Chico. Placed on the table were 10 | Winter 2012

Story by Amanda Meneses Photo by Brittany Teixeira

green bananas from Martex Farms. The Vice President of Marketing from Martex company is a Puerto Rican family owned Farms judged the last round of the contest. business dedicated to growing, processing, Cal Poly won first place. packaging and shipping tropical fruits and Fortunately, the trip to Puerto Rico plants. Each FDRS team was then given wasn’t just all work and no play. Following time to write down any questions they had the big win, the team explored San Juan, for the company and 15 minutes to meet the capital of Puerto Rico, and visited with representatives. Martex Farms. Upon returning to their hotel room, Teixeira encourages all students to try Cal Poly went to work. The team took out for this exciting contest, no matter whiteboard markers to the mirrors and their major. Who knows, maybe you started planning their presentation. could be in Chicago, Ill. for the next FDRS Together, the team decided what the flow Contest, defending Cal Poly’s national title. of their presentation would look like and delegated tasks to each member. After seven hours of preparation, the team presented to a panel of five academic judges who judged the teams on categories such as implementation of their marketing plan and professional presentation within a 15 minute time frame. The judges then had five minutes to ask any questions regarding the marketing plan or the product itself. A second round was held right after with a second set of judges. After a long and stressful day, the team discovered they made the top three teams and would be competing again the next morning for a chance to take home the title. The option to change anything in their presentation was given to the teams who made it to the final round, but had to be finalized by 8:00 a.m. the next morning. The Cal Poly’s FDRS Team in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (left to right): Brittany Teixeira, Alex Bassi, Shelby Sisk Vice President of Logistics and the and Sean Maxson.




easuring, weighing, feeding and caring for tortoises. Yes, tortoises. These are not the common, everyday tasks for most college students. However, these tasks fill the day for a handful of Cal Poly Animal Science students and they enjoy every minute of it. When Dr. Mark Edwards came to Cal Poly five years ago, the Animal Science Department was given the opportunity to house 19 leopard tortoises from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. These tortoises provide a unique learning opportunity for students interested in animals not native to the United States. Interest in the tortoises became so great that an enterprise project was formed. Edwards developed the enterprise to allow students the opportunity to study, research and care for these reptiles. “This is a great way to get hands-on experience with animals we rarely get to see or be in contact with,” Rebecca Pulcrano, enterprise member, said. The reptile husbandry enterprise allows students to gain industry experience through Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy. Edwards created a job system within the enterprise, which gives students first-hand knowledge of tortoises. Students applying for these positions turn in resumés and go through an interview process, just as if it were an industry job. His goal is to blur the line between class and what people refer to as the “real world.” This enterprise provides students a learning opportunity that differs from most others found on campus. The enterprise focuses mainly on tortoises, but students gain experience with animal management in a controlled environment. Students collect data from every part of the tortoises’ daily care in order to establish baselines for the long-lived animals. Since its arrival, the Cal Poly leopard tortoise herd has attracted industry attention. In exchange for research

Story by Aimee Shaner, Photo by Chris Leschinsky

opportunities, industry leaders help fund the program to ensure it stays strong and viable. Through student research and senior projects, many feed companies have utilized the Cal Poly tortoises to test whether or not something as simple as the color or scent of the feed will affect what a tortoise chooses to eat. While industry leaders do help with the costs of caring for the tortoises, students still understand the value of becoming financially sustainable. Students recently had the idea to market tortoise-made art. Enterprise members allow the tortoises to paint pictures by walking over canvases with paint on their feet. The plan is to promote and sell these pieces as rare art forms. Edwards works hard to make the enterprise open to both the industry and students. Long-term studies on tortoises are hard to come by because these reptiles can live anywhere from 80 to 100 years and most data collected in the past has

been lost within those long lifespans. The important research Cal Poly conducts on growth and development of the tortoises will continue to be utilized by the industry and private individuals alike for years to come. “I think my favorite part [of the enterprise] is knowing that we are providing such a structured environment,” Edwards said. “This pulls so many of my industry experiences into this class and we are able to give students a unique skill set that can apply to their own pets or the care of any animal.” While the enterprise’s structure and real-world nature help students grow professionally, it is also just plain fun. “I think my absolute favorite part about the enterprise is just watching and observing each of the tortoises,” Jessica Meurer, enterprise participant, said. “A common perception of tortoises is that they are slow and don't really do much, but really they do some of the craziest things.” agcircle | 11


The Fighting Mustang Battalion CAFES’s Secret Weapon

Story by Jessica Will Photos by Cadet Anders Helgeson


hen thinking about Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences (CAFES), Military Science usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program feels right at home in CAFES and ranks among the top five programs in the nation. “We are blessed to be a part of the college of agriculture. It’s very welcoming and the college helps fund us with some of the things that we want to do. It’s a good fit,” said First Lieutenant Brian Calcagno. The ROTC is a four-year program designed to prepare students to become officers in the Active Duty Army, the Army Reserve or the National Guard. Students select their own majors and can earn a military science minor. In order to finish the ROTC program and become an officer, students must complete their bachelor’s degree. However, students can participate in the military 12 | Winter 2012

science program without contracting to become an officer. The Cal Poly ROTC program currently has approximately 40 contracted cadets and 20 to 25 noncontracted cadets. 1st Lt. Calcagno is an alumnus of the Cal Poly ROTC program. Calcagno graduated in 2007 with a degree in Industrial Technology. He now flies helicopters three to four times per month for the National Guard, when he’s not working as the recruitment officer for Cal Poly ROTC. However, recruiting for the program is a busy job. “We produce such quality officers, that [the army is] asking us to produce more and more every year,” Calcagno said. Cal Poly is able to create superior officers because of all the resources available to the program. Students at Cal Poly have the ability to solve problems and think on their feet. “We have a great staff, or what we call cadre here, with a lot of experience. We can transfer that to our cadets. It’s not easy

to get into Cal Poly, so our students usually step above most students anyways. They have an open mind and they are willing to learn. They learn a lot here,” Calcagno said. The staff is comprised of dedicated individuals with experience in multiple deployments and numerous years in the military. Cal Poly’s location also makes it an ideal place for ROTC. Camp San Luis Obispo provides a place for students to train in land navigation, rifle marksmanship and repelling. During winter and spring quarters, students work through exercises with paintball guns in Poly Canyon. The accessibility to the training area is what sets Cal Poly’s ROTC program apart from other universities such as UC Santa Barbara, UCLA and Santa Clara University, who have to travel to Camp San Luis Obispo. Each year, Cal Poly’s ROTC students participate in the Ranger Challenge, a competition between 11 California universities. It takes place at Camp San Luis Obispo every November. Cal Poly has

won four years in a row. Cal Poly’s ROTC program is especially dedicated to teaching leadership.

They have an open mind and they are willing to learn.

“One of the hardest things to do is to lead your peers and that is what they get to do,” Calcagno said. Students are given the opportunity three times per week to lead one another in physical training exercises. The program allows students to lead their peers in endurance, circuit and weight training. Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing concept is implemented in leadership classes and leadership labs where students demonstrate all the tools they learned in class. After graduation, students are

expected to lead up to 50 individuals in the United States Army with differing levels of military experience. That’s why it is so important students are confident enough to lead their peers before graduation. Cadet Cameron Everhart, a senior in the program said, “I’ve noticed that in regular classes, when teachers ask students to take a leadership position on a project… I feel like the ROTC has prepared me so well to take the lead. I want to set an example. It’s crazy how much the ROTC has taught me to provide a good example.” Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and CAFES Dean, David Wehner, are both strong supporters of the ROTC program.

Last fall, President Armstrong passed a physical fitness test. The test consists of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run. Dean Wehner has his own Cal Poly ROTC uniform and believes the program is an important part of the college. "We are very proud of the fact that the ROTC Program is in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. It is important to support the men and women of Cal Poly who are preparing to serve our country.  The cadets of the Fighting Mustang Battalion have repeatedly demonstrated their superiority in competitions and in proficiency tests at the leadership development training program at Fort Lewis, Wash.," Wehner said. It’s no surprise administrators are proud of the ROTC program. If you ask Lieutenant Calcagno, there are a number of things that make Cal Poly’s ROTC program one of the most successful in the nation. “A combination of cadets, the staff, as well as the training area makes us top notch.”

Cal Poly BRAE:

The Difference is Undeniable


ngineering with soul, engineering with heart, management with soul, leadership with heart,” said BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department Head, Dr. Kenneth Solomon as he described the “personality” of the department. Dedicated faculty and an emphasis on teamwork are what make the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering (BRAE) Department unique. The BRAE department offers undergraduate majors in Agricultural Systems Management (ASM) and BioResource and Agricultural Engineering (BRAE). The department student count is just under 300, keeping class sizes small and making it is easy for students to build relationships with faculty members. Department staff describe the programs as “collaborative, not competitive” with a focus on helping students progress. BRAE professors arrive early, stay late and leave their doors open. If professors are in their offices, students are always welcome. Erica Timmermans, fourth-year ASM major, said, “It makes it easy to drop into office hours to ask a quick question when the professors remember your name and ask about things other than school.” The department has adopted the phrase, “the difference is undeniable” to describe its collaborative support of students. This vital encouragement extends with connections to industry leaders interested in hiring ASM and BRAE program grads into the workforce. Students’ class time goes beyond watching and listening to professors.

14 | Winter 2012

Story by Trevor Surrock

Students plan projects from the ground up and engineer tangible products from start to finish. “We appreciate this opportunity for practical learning,” said two senior BRAE majors. Jerad Evers noted, “Our group projects use tools and skills from class to produce real products for the working world.” Weston Soto added, “You can’t design something to its fullest potential unless you have the knowledge and experience to build it yourself.” These skills give Cal Poly ASM and BRAE students a competitive edge. “Industry people tell me that it’s usually the Cal Poly students that take the lead,” Solomon said.

We appreciate this opportunity for practical learning.

With determined students and staff working around the clock, the BRAE department makes it a point to remain closely connected while also advancing and growing. The BRAE department captures many unique interests because of the clubs it offers. Professional clubs include Agricultural Engineering Society (AES), American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), and Student Mechanized Branch (SMB). For students with a competitive spirit, the

department also offers Tractor Pull and Quarter Scale Tractor teams, open to all majors. These clubs give students another opportunity to develop their skills and discover new interests. BRAE senior Ashley Parry said, “Being active in student clubs, I have not only advanced my professional knowledge and skills, but made lifelong friendships.” BRAE department graduates can go into virtually any field they choose. BRAE majors earn a broadly based engineering degree and if they decide to become registered, may be licensed typically as Agricultural, Civil or Mechanical Engineers. ASM graduates have a strong foundation in technology and business/ management, which prepares them for most jobs in the industry today. Both ASM and BRAE majors are in high demand within the industry. Cal Poly Career Service’s Graduate Status Report indicates graduates of this department in both majors have high-average starting salaries. Prospective students are noticing this closely connected department and want in. The department is accepting qualified students and trends show a greater number of students transferring in from other majors. “We don’t need more engineers; we need engineers with soul,” Solomon said. This is something he believes the Cal Poly BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department is working toward. Solomon said he wants the BRAE department to continue to evolve, but also “keep that personality” and “keep that core of collaboration and connectivity.”


Mike & Wendy Hall Beef Cattle & Leadership Scholarship Mike and Wendy Hall have been actively involved in the Cal Poly Beef Program as students and faculty for 40 years.

Story by Malorie Bankhead


al Poly affects the lives of its students so deeply that hundreds travel from every corner of California and across the United States to come together and celebrate the Learn by Doing philosophy, lifelong friendships made and people who have made a difference. All of this took place at the Cal Poly Animal Science Department Reunion on October 6, preceding the 56th Annual Bull Test Sale on October 7. Beyond celebrating the common bond shared, attendees were also celebrating an era. Emeriti who have dedicated their lives to the Animal Science Department and its students were honored that night. Nearly 600 guests attended the reunion including alumni, current and past staff and faculty, friends, supporters and emeriti. Before the social hour, dinner and program, guests had the opportunity to tour the Animal Science facilities—some of which have changed drastically over time. The most recently renovated facilities include the Animal Nutrition Center and the J & G Lau Family Meat Processing Center. The evening social gave guests a chance to reminisce and catch up before the program began. Mike Bradley, Cal Poly alumnus and current Membership Marketing Manager of California Farm Bureau, served as the evening’s emcee. Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong spoke to the crowd. He strongly declared that it is good to be a Mustang among the honored guests. The Farm Shop was full of of Cal Poly legends.

After dinner, a live auction generated about $36,500 to help support the brand new Mike and Wendy Hall Beef Cattle and Leadership Scholarship Fund. An additional $7,000 was collected before the event took place. The emeriti attending the celebration were recognized and honored for their dedication to Cal Poly. Retiring faculty, Mike and Wendy Hall, were among them. One guest alluded to Mike and Wendy as the Sonny and Cher of Cal Poly. This comparison left many laughing. The humor stemmed from clear truth in the statement. The pair has certainly left a lasting impression on those they have worked with at Cal Poly. David Porter, Animal Science alumnus, said, “It was nice for multiple generations of Cal Poly alumni, faculty and emeriti to catch up with each other.” Porter advocated how influential his time in the department was. “My experiences at Cal Poly helped me create my own beef cattle operation, raising high quality and successful show cattle for my family and my customers.” He was a student participant in Cal Poly’s Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show and now has children who exhibit at the show. Learn by Doing has come full circle in his family. The constant hum of conversation hung over the Farm Shop all evening. Friendships made at Cal Poly truly do last a lifetime. As guests left the event, they passed under a sign that said “Happy trails…until we meet again.”

Both have dedicated their lives to the growth and improvement of the program and education of students. They have set an example of hard work, dedication and a love for the beef industry. Leadership has been a passion of theirs as well, through working with the Young Cattlemen’s Club and promoting student leadership of the Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show Program for 29 years.

The annual scholarship(s) will be open to sophomores, juniors and seniors enrolled in any agriculture major at Cal Poly. The selection will be based on beef cattle interest and program involvement, leadership and work ethic. A minimum GPA of 2.5 will be required. If you wish to help Mike and Wendy support this scholarship fund, you may make a tax deductible donation of any amount. Please make checks payable to “Cal Poly Foundation” and mail to: California Polytechnic State University Animal Science Department 1 Grand Ave. San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

agcircle | 15

Through the Eyes of a Legend:

Cal Poly Agribusiness


Story by Jennifer Ray

o one knows more about the Cal Poly Agribusiness Department than Robert E. McCorkle. In the fall of 1956, McCorkle joined the first incoming class of Farm Management majors. “I was interested because it was a brand new major offered to freshmen … about 20 students took advantage of it,” McCorkle said. Since then, McCorkle has helped build the agribusiness program by writing curriculum, teaching classes, leading the way for international opportunities and advising student clubs. He currently advises the Alpha Zeta professional fraternity, consults for industry and oversees student internships. “I’ve been here a long time,” he said with a smile. “The students and my faculty colleagues are the best.” McCorkle’s passion for agribusiness began even before he came to Cal Poly. He remembers what it University Archives, Cal Poly - Farm Center Executive Committee, 1959. Row one: Larry Moon, was like growing up on the family ranch. Treasurer, Bob McCorkle, Reporter, Row two: Don Tompkins, Vice Chairman, Larry Linser, “We milked cows by hand, had no electricity, Chairman, Chuck Harmon, Tax and Legislation no telephone, a wood stove for cooking and heat,” McCorkle said. “We had beef cattle, thousands of In true Cal Poly spirit, classroom walls did not set the bounds turkeys in those days … We cut and raked hay with our work for McCorkle’s teaching. horses.” “We went off to Africa in January of 1967 … Cal Poly being, The family business has evolved, relocated and diversified over you know, a very practically oriented school, had a lot of people the years. McCorkle remains a partner. The business part comes with backgrounds in engineering and agriculture … The US naturally to him. government found these people very valuable in terms of putting “I like to manage things,” he said with another grin. on overseas development projects.” That’s why McCorkle chose to join Cal Poly’s first class of Farm The government needed, “people who could actually teach Management majors. He then completed his master’s degree people how to do something. That was what Cal Poly was all at UC Davis in 1962 and was hired by Cal Poly’s Agricultural about, Learn by Doing, remember?” Business Management Department. At that time, there were only McCorkle served as the Chief Farm Management Officer at two other faculty members in the department. When McCorkle the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia for two and a half years. wasn’t busy advising the Agricultural Business Management Club, He then spent time in the Ph.D. program at the University of he was writing courses. Wisconsin. 1969 was the height of the Vietnam War and the “[I was] developing courses like crazy … So, what have I campus was, as McCorkle phrases, in “constant turmoil.” taught? 28 different courses! I have the list right here.” STATEMENT FROM DEPARTMENT CHAIR, DR. JAY E. NOEL

“Bob McCorkle has had a major impact on the success of the Agribusiness Department to educate its students for over 50 years. He was a Cal Poly pioneer in international education and has always had a passion about the role an agribusiness education has on alumni success. He is always mentioned by Agribusiness alumni as a faculty member that was an important contributor to their success in their personal lives and careers. His institutional knowledge is truly amazing. He represents the true embodiment of the saying, “Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.” He has spent the last several years as the Agribusiness Internship Coordinator, which by all accounts is one of the most successful agribusiness internship programs in the country. There is not enough space to account for all the accomplishments Bob has achieved in his Cal Poly career, but one thing is for sure: His commitment to excellence and to the Agribusiness Department is unparalleled.” 16 | Winter 2012

ON CAMPUS “The National Guard was out on [the University of Wisconsin] campus with fixed bayonets, trying to keep everyone in order.” He and his wife, Mary, then returned to Cal Poly. He served as the Director of International Education for four years. In 1975 McCorkle returned to the Agricultural Management Department, where he has remained ever since. He notes that the department has seen a lot of changes over the years. “What we started off with was … a parallel major system. What we were trying to do was educate people in managing farms on one side and then we were educating people to manage businesses that were serving ag on the other side. And when we say ‘serving ag,’ we mean everyone that was providing inputs to the farmer… and then you have the other side where you’re taking a farm product and moving it down the line to market.

That was what Cal Poly was all about, Learn by Doing, remember?

“As we added faculty, then of course, we could add more in-depth coursework within our department,” McCorkle said. The department is now named the Agribusiness Department and offers a major, minor and master’s in Agricultural Business. The curriculum is designed to give students a background in agricultural economics, accounting, finance, marketing and policy. Another change has been the use of concentrations within the agricultural business curriculum. First students were

recommended to focus on a concentration path. Then, they were required to declare a concentration. Currently, the department advises students to select their major elective courses according to their area of interest. “When I started out in Farm Management, most graduates ended up on a farm or in the farm service area.” There is no doubt McCorkle believes agriculture business is a viable major. Simply said, “Somebody has to manage all these resources that knows what they are doing.” McCorkle is also passionate about his current position as internship coordinator. “What I like students to do is to go out … and get some experience in the industry and see what it’s about. Because if they go do it, the light comes on and they say, ‘there is a place in this world for me.’” Professor McCorkle has certainly found his place in this world and he continues to help students find their own. His smile is still lighting the hallway of the Cal Poly Agribusiness Department.

FIVE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PROFESSOR McCORKLE 1. Not only was he in the very first class of Farm Management majors, he was also in the first charter class of the National Professional Fraternity of Alpha Zeta. 2. McCorkle was recruited to play football for Cal Poly. “We played both ways in those days, so I played fullback on offense and linebacker on defense.” 3. He was the Cal Poly Associated Student Body Vice President for his senior year. 4. His wife, Mary, was the Editor-in-Chief of the Mustang Daily when she was a student. She recently retired as head of the Cuesta College Journalism Department. 5. McCorkle has traveled and worked in agricultural development in North and South America, Africa and Asia.

agcircle | 17

Story by Emma Sandquist Photos by Peter Delle


t’s colorful, delicious, essential and something mom never let you play with. It’s food. Ten lucky Food Science interns spent Summer 2012 playing with food at Cal Poly. The interns became leaders of their own industry-driven projects and were expected to present their answers and research to industryexperienced professors. The new program was put into action this summer in what used to be called a “dead pilot plant” said student manager Brandon Coleman. Head of the Food Science Department, Dr. Gour Choudhury, explained that letting the plant sit idle for three months was a loss of opportunity and productivity. To bring the facility and program back to life, Dr. Choudhury created an internship program that was directly connected to the industry. The program provides students with real-world problem-solving experiences, while also setting the stage for an emerging California Institute of Food and Nutrition. Matthew Goldstein, a student intern, commented, “When the time came to present it, it made all of us students realize the magnitude of what we had completed as we had come to know our faculty as peers in the ongoing projects to solve real industry problems.” The students were placed into four different teams, each presented with 18 | Winter 2012

a different challenge. The challenges: genuine problems that real companies in the industry wanted an answer for. Ready, set, think. The first team of foodies (a term for those who really like to eat) was the Cal Poly Product Design Team. This team created new, tasty Cal Poly food products to accompany the already popular and delicious jams and chocolates. Cal Poly BBQ Sauce and Cherry Jam (perfect for holiday pie filling) landed on store shelves in The University Store, Campus Market and local Spencer’s Fresh Markets this October. The second team worked with pistachios. Their project researched how healthier fats (pistachio oil has unsaturated fats) can replace unhealthy fats (saturated fats) in recipes without altering taste, texture and general appeal of the product. The team experimented with reusing pistachio waste and creating new pistachio-based products. Another group of students became industry tech-savvy. These students set out to find a way to peel tomatoes in mass quantity, quickly and effectively, without damaging the fruit. They did this by using different machines and using trial and error to test their own methodologies. The final team worked with dairyfree, frozen fruit desserts. These interns learned and practiced product formulation

(the science of creating recipes), process development (how it is made for industry) and product development (the process of making a new product marketable). Other short-term projects from industry worked their way into the summer program, linking the Food Science and Nutrition Department with multiple concentrations of the food industry. Students worked with the Shiffman Consulting Group, Gourmet Pureé, Derby Wine Estates, Central Coast Provisions, The Bliss Café and the American Pistachio Board. This not only gave students learning opportunities, but also industry experience, connections with potential future employers and more revenue for Food Science programs. The summer foodies proved Cal Poly’s motto by using both textbook learning and practical skills to become industry-ready and fulfill Cal Poly’s mission statement of “promot[ing] the application of theory into practice.” Faculty and instructors became “partners in discovery” as the students broke new ground in the field of food science. Coleman described his view as the student supervisor. “It is rewarding to see that we have been able to create a kinesthetic learning environment for our students here and watch their progression of knowledge and capability,” Coleman said.

ON CAMPUS Watching the students grow, learn, work hard and succeed fills any professor or leader with a sense of pride, excitement and appreciation. Dr. Choudhury’s excitement and pride in students and for the department has inspired him to implement the emerging California Food and Nutrition Institute at Cal Poly. Integrating the summer projects in the new California Food and Nutrition Institute allowed Dr. Choudhury to begin developing the focus of the future Cal Poly institute. “It will be student-driven, faculty-led and industry-supported,” Choudhury said about the institution. The institute will expand the department’s position in industry by launching students into California agriculture production, and into the national and international scopes of food. To Dr. Choudhury, the goal is to “open windows of opportunity” both for students and professors by making Cal Poly known for research and training within industry. Many recent changes in the department have placed Cal Poly in a prominent position. These include several additions to the now, year-round pilot plant. New machinery and 480 watt power have opened infinite possibilities for new learning and more product development. New products are on the shelves, the institute is underway and the foodies are on their way to promising careers. Cal Poly is headed to a higher realm of food with a little creative play.



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Cal Poly Brings Compost to Life


he story of Cal Poly Compost began long ago in a strange and mysterious time known only as “The ’90’s.” The program was born on what was known as the Experimental Farm. It has developed to dispose of the manure produced from the multitude of animals raised on this fine campus. Of course, the project did not start producing the tons of high quality compost it does today overnight. That would be impossible. After all, Rome was not built in a day. Then how could a compost operation possibly be built in one? It was a long journey filled with many trials for Cal Poly Compost. Hunter Francis, the Director of the Center for Sustainability said, “The true birth of the modern Cal Poly Compost operation began in 1997 when the project adviser, Dr. Doug Williams, hired the first part-time compost operator.” The composting operation became an enterprise project within the BioResources and Agricultural Engineering Department. The next milestone for composting came the following year with the purchase of the turner, a machine pulled behind a tractor that mixes and adds water to improve compost quality. The enterprise continued on like this for several years before it became, in simple terms, big. The purchase of Truck 109, the Ford dump truck, in 2003, was another landmark in Cal Poly Compost expansion. This resulted in an increase of animal waste hauled to the composting site to be processed into compost. This is also when Agriculture Operations, better known as the Farm Shop, stepped in and took over the day-to-day operating. Compost was then sold to the public. However, trouble was on the horizon. Three to four years ago, at the height of the Avian Flu scare, sales stopped. Concerns were raised over the large number of birds attracted to the compost. The pandemic scare could have been the end of composting at Cal Poly. Luckily, a renewed interest surfaced from the Animal 20 | Winter 2012

Story by Joshua Fridlund Photos by Mandy Brazil and Joshua Fridlund

Science Department, Dean’s Office and Center for Sustainability. The interest brought in the funds to not only revamp the program, but also get the compost certified by the United States Composting Council. Steve Sherman is the current supervisor at the Farm Shop and responsible for overseeing routine composting activities. He explains how the USDA certification proves Cal Poly Compost is top-notch. "It’s similar to the USDA organic certification. The seal is a guarantee for the quality of the compost and that it is held to certain standards both in production as well as the composition of it," Sherman said. Cal Poly has started screening the compost to separate the large chunks, mostly trash, and the good, rich

fine material that plants love. USDA certification, the added screening process and the purchase of a bagging machine have brought Cal Poly Compost back to life. Cal Poly began selling compost to the public again this past spring. In October, the program began offering bulk sales to the public by bucket and truckload. Now the program is stronger than ever and will only get better. The program will soon expand to include worms. Their presence in the material will assist in processing manure and produce an even higher quality form of compost, a process known as vermicomposting. The story of Cal Poly Compost lives on; the program is rich with history and fertile for growth.

agcircle | 21

Putting the

CULTURE into AgriCULTURE Story by Amanda Meneses


hen in doubt…Google it, right? I know, as a college student, that has quickly become my motto. Sure enough, Google did just the trick in tackling the massive topic of global agriculture. Twenty seconds and 218,000,000 search results later, the first link on my screen listed Global Foods Market: “St. Louis’ Premier International and Specialty Supermarket.” While skimming through the “About Us” section of the site, one particular quote caught my attention. Sunchin Prapaislip, owner of Global Foods Market, “…noticed there was not a way for recent immigrants like himself to enjoy the food that they enjoyed back in their homelands.” Sunchin’s market became quite popular when word got out that you could buy noodles from Korea, yams from Africa and rice from Thailand. Growing up in a home with two immigrant parents, I fully understand the importance of preserving the culture of my ancestors, including the cuisine. When my parents immigrated, like many others, the food they were accustomed to was not available. Fast-forward 20 years where oils, olives and cheeses are among the many imported products now readily available to the large Portuguese community in my hometown and others. According to the Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States (FATUS), the value of imports into the United States 22 | Winter 2012

in January of 1976 was $815,654,181. In January of 2012, the United States imports valued $9,023,924,845. By importing and exporting food, we expand to cater to an ever-growing immigrant population and interest in international foods. Now the question presents itself, are desires to preserve culture the root of the desire for globalized agriculture? Of course it is not the sole reason, but most would agree that globalized agriculture and preserving cultures correlate with one another. Many people have reservations when it comes to importing produce from different countries and they have every right to be cautious. American agriculture prides itself in being the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world; but that doesn’t guarantee other countries uphold the same standards. The constant fear of food safety is a common topic, but what many do not know is even an “everyday fruit” is often imported. The only two states in the United States able to grow bananas are Hawaii and Florida and they tend to produce only small quantities. This means the United States imports most bananas from South America, Africa, India and the Caribbean. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service documented $550 million worth of fresh fruit imported to the United States, just in August 2012. How many of us were unaware of this fact, but will continue to eat these bananas

because they seem to be perfectly safe? There will always be a chance of a food scare, but as Americans, we can rest assured that organizations, such as the USDA, Center for Disease Control, and Federal Drug Administration, are working tirelessly to ensure the food we consume is safe. The USDA states on its website, “While foreign regulatory systems need not be identical to the U.S. system, they must employ equivalent sanitary and health measures that provide the same level of protection achieved domestically for imported goods.” After all, how did my Starbuck’s Breakfast Blend roast reach not only the five stores in San Luis Obispo, but make it to Portugal too? Coffee and spices have been grown and traded around the globe for centuries. Today’s logistics, technology and trading capabilities have made global agriculture its own industry with constantly changing regulations, safety improvements and standards of operation. To further your understanding of global agriculture, mark your calendars for February 27, 2013 and attend the Global Food Forum at Cal Poly, hosted by the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. Join the audience to hear from industry experts and add to the conversation during the question and answer period following panel presentations from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.



Sustaining Agriculture & Cultivating Tourists Story and photos by Mandy Brazil


he Golden State holds a global reputation for being a premium tourist destination. Beaches, heavenly weather, theme parks and beautiful scenery are all part of the attraction. Not only are weekend recreational activities abundant, tourism is California’s top revenue generating industry. A newer sector in the tourism industry has given agriculturalists a value-added twist to their operations, agritourism. The agritourism industry is a growing trend for agriculturalists exploring ways to supplement traditional farming revenue. Small-scale farms often struggle to compete with larger, more costeffective operations. This is especially true for farmers on the Central Coast. The inconsistent terrain, expensive resources and low water availability can make growing operations difficult for producers. Like many other farmers on the Central Coast, the Barlogio family was uncertain about their future in the industry. “It is really difficult to make a living in this area in traditional agriculture,”

Becky Barlogio said. “[Farming] is on a different scale and we cannot compete with growers in the valley.” A little more than a decade ago, Barlogio’s father suffered an injury that hindered his ability to continue working in the same way he had been. The combination of that setback and having to compete with grocery store prices gave them a tough decision to make. “That put us in a real financial hardship,” Barlogio said. “We couldn’t make a living just farming, like we had historically done.” They had to sit down as a family and figure out how they were going to make the operation remain viable. Letting the farm go was considered. However, the dedication and passion for the farming way of life persisted. “We wanted to see a sixth generation continue on the legacy.” Instead, they looked toward expanding their small farm stand. Initially, the farm store was fairly small in size. The main offerings were fresh

produce, pumpkins and summer squash. The family challenges themselves to grow just a little bit every year. “We have been trying to, every year, expand a little more and offer a little more to our customers.” Today, the family business, known as Jack Creek Farms, is a thriving grower of specialty produce and a popular tourist destination. The large farm store has fruits, vegetables and value-added products such as fudge and cider. “We grow 116 different varieties of pumpkins and winter squash, so it keeps us hopping,” Barlogio said with a laugh. Jack Creek Farms specializes in heirloom and rare varieties of produce. They recognize they cannot match commercial store prices for traditional produce. “We can grow some of the quirky varieties that require more hands-on time, aren’t as consistent, and are more fragile,” Barlogio said. “That is something that we can compete with, the stuff you can’t find in the grocery store.” The farm has been successful in finding and fulfilling a niche market. Harvest seasons for a variety of fruits and produce keep the Barlogio family busy and the store stays open almost threequarters of the year. “Diversity is really important for us small farmers. When you are diversified, it gives you other sources of revenue to fall back on.” Most will agree that farming is often unpredictable. Weather and fluctuating markets are common frustrations. Barlogio advocates consumers need to support local farmers for even more agcircle | 23

reasons than just food safety or flavor. “If you appreciate the open spaces and if you enjoy the views, if you want to see this way of life continue, you have got to support them.” The Barlogio family has been a strong activist for the Central Coast Farmers and a member of Ag Adventures. Ag Adventures is an agritourism resource from the Central Coast Agritourism Council. Barlogio’s mother, Joy Barlogio, was one of the founding council members. They were trying to get a platform for small farmers who might not have the resources to market their own products. As Barlogio said, “The more of us, the stronger voice we will have.” The Council recognized a need for farmers to pull together. They worked to promote what Central Coast Farmers and its members had to offer. Founding member efforts were noticeable and made a difference for small farms. “More people are appreciating it now. It is exciting that being a local grower is becoming trendy and really catching on.” The tourism angle has been successful in drawing in a range of visitors. People come seeking an authentic farm experience and really do leave with their hands dirty. “Our average customer is a tourist,” Barlogio said. They can interact with farm animals, pick their own produce and enjoy time outside in the rural setting. “We used to have more international travelers and more customers from the East Coast,” Barlogio said. As a result of the economic downturn, Jack Creek Farms has lately been attracting

24 | Winter 2012

more visitors from the Bay Area, Los Angeles and the Central Valley. They also attract more families because Jack Creek Farms has something to offer that local wineries do not. Children can participate in tasting different ciders, honey and fudge. Another popular agritourism site on the Central Coast is Alpacas at the Crossroads. The tours have become a special outing for all ages. Typical visitors include schools, church groups and retirement communities. Sandy Wallace and her husband, Dave, started their farm with two alpacas. Their investment in the fiber agriculture sector grew quickly and so did their herd. They now have over 100 alpacas. The retired couple enjoys spending time caring for the animals. “I have friends who go to Hawaii, but I feel like I am on vacation just being here,” Wallace said. “We love these animals.” Unfortunately, it was difficult to make the operation financially feasible through fiber sales alone. They found the solution in diversity through agritourism. Tours and workshops help to maintain the cost of the operation. The farm also has an on site gift shop featuring alpaca fiber products such as felt, yarn, woven items and fashion pieces. Alpacas are unique animals that not many people get the chance to meet. Infamous for their use of spitting as a form of communication, alpaca’s inquisitive personalities and loveable faces make observing them a joy for all visitors. However, a former elementary

school teacher, Wallace carefully adds an educational twist to make the farm much more than a petting zoo. Tour groups are first introduced to the alpacas themselves and then gather for a presentation in the fiber barn. Wallace strives to provide an enriching, hands-on educational experience. These workshops include topics such as fiber harvesting, creative fiber craft projects, spinning techniques and color dying strategies. “I try to focus what I share based on their interests,” Wallace said. “It is nice to have them interacting.” Wallace also reaches out to fellow alpaca enthusiasts. “We like to help people who want to own alpacas learn how to take care of them,” Wallace said. The farm regularly hosts seminars in the areas of marketing, fiber use and alpaca husbandry. Wallace’s genuine passion for educating about alpacas and the fiber industry is clear. “I can see their smiles. I know they learned a lot and understand more about how alpacas can be used,” Wallace said. The agritourism market might be small, but it has widespread benefits for consumers and producers. Urban demographics are able to get a taste, sometimes quite literally, of local agriculture. As Barlogio said, “[visitors] get to make that connection of where their food comes from.” Small scale farmers have the capability to maintain their operations in the midst of competitive markets. Producers, like Wallace and Barlogio, are able to remain involved in the industry they love, agriculture.


Connections to Careers

Story by Tatiana Prestininzi


he agriculture industry is a close-knit group and it certainly helps to have friends. For Sharlene Garcia and Brandon Souza, two former Cal Poly graduates, their networks have set them apart from the rest. Garcia and Souza both received their Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Business with a minor in Agricultural Communications. Garcia is a 2002 graduate and Souza graduated in 2008. The two are currently employed by AdFarm, the only marketing and communications agency to focus solely on agriculture clients. AdFarm communicates to the farm, from the farm and about the farm. The agency hires people with a connection to or passion for agriculture. This passion is something both Garcia and Souza share. Through communication tools, AdFarm works to further the success of agriculture. While California agriculture generates $38 billion per year, the agriculture community is relatively small. “We are a catalyst for the advancement of agriculture,” Souza said. “The agriculture industry is made up of a family-oriented group of folks.” Since the agriculture industry is so interdependent, it is important for students to make connections that can ensure them a future career. “Students need to start building their network now,” Garcia said. Over the last eight years, Sharlene has worked for some of the largest agriculture agencies in the state and built her own network, proving you don’t stop growing professionally once you have landed a job. agcircle | 25

“Working for California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Wine Grape Growers has made me visible and more connected in our industry,” Garcia said.

Students need to start building their network now.

Cal Poly is the perfect place to start growing networks. Connections can be made at career fairs, major-specific functions, business functions and even with the person sitting next to you in class. All of these opportunities are great ways to start ensuring professional success. Souza wants students to be aware that it is important to not only know the right people, but also to work well with them.

“Through my leadership experience with Cal Poly ASI Student Government, I learned how to work with people of differing opinions, attitudes and different ways to approach things,” Souza said. Garcia also shares how her experiences at Cal Poly help her in the “real world.” “To this day, I still utilize some of the information and courseware from classes I took at Poly,” Garcia said. Corporate Communication, Agricultural Publications and Agribusiness Marketing Research Methods are all classes that have helped prepare her for her career. A Cal Poly education had the same effect on Souza. “During my first day at my first job, working for the California Farm Bureau Federation, I was given tasks that I had already learned from my course work,” Souza said. It is comforting to know Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy adds value to students’ degrees and is applicable to their futures. Garcia also adds it is important students actually learn something from courses; a reminder that the end goal should not only

be a strong GPA. While being competitive academically is important, over the years the two have worked for a combined seven companies and neither have been asked for their GPA. This is proof that being a wellrounded, involved student has merit. The industry needs communicators to use their classroom knowledge, outside experiences and networks to share agriculture’s story with others. “We have put the message of agriculture on the back burner,” Souza said. “As an agriculture community, we need farmers and ranchers to connect with consumers,” Garcia said. She adds that in the last five years we have seen farmers and ranchers grow their network through the use of the Know a California Farmer website, Twitter, Facebook and blogs. This can serve as an inspiration to us all. Garcia offers her advice to students, “Utilize your college years, connect with those sitting next to you in class because you never know how big of an impact you and your network can have on the agriculture industry.”

Generations of Horsepower

26 | Winter 2012

Jack Dewar and Morgan Dewar


21st Century Cattle Drive The distinctions and difficulties of an unassuming industry

Story and photo by Maddie Dunlap Rarely will you see the long and dusty cattle drives of traditional western movies and old time ranches. Now it is more likely you will pass a large livestock truck and trailer making its way up the interstate, a new-age cattle drive of sorts. Allan Skinner first tried his hand at a modern twist on an old classic about 21 years ago. A rancher hired Skinner and gave him full access to a cattle truck and the company credit card. What started out as simply a way to pay the bills has turned into a career. Skinner is still in this unique industry, but now as a business owner. Livestock trucking is one of the more inconspicuous sectors of agriculture. Don’t let its unfamiliarity fool you though; the USDA reported in 2011, California had 1,070,000 head of cattle and calf inshipments. Inshipments are defined as “livestock shipped into states for feeding or breeding. Excludes animals brought in for immediate slaughter.” These may include new animals purchased to add to herds, animals moved to feed lots or animals moved from ranch to ranch. Ranches such as the One-bar Cattle Company, based in Williams, Calif., hire trucking companies to ship hundreds of cattle to greener pastures each year. For One-bar, their 800 head of cattle spend winters in the warmer climates of northern

California. When late spring rolls around, the 21st century cattle drive is on. The cattle make their annual migration to the cool weather and green grasses of southern Oregon. One-bar is one of the many clients Allan Skinner worked for when he purchased his own truck and began developing his clientele. The job description has not changed much over the years. A customer contacts Skinner, he cleans the truck and then he goes to the ranch to load it. He drives to the drop-off location, unloads the truck and the cycle continues. Between California, Nevada and Oregon, Skinner and trucking companies like his will drive an average of 75,000 to 175,000 miles from May to June and from mid-October to Christmas time. While the basics of the job have not changed much, outside factors have made the trucking more difficult. The failing economy has increased competition and California regulations have made it difficult for California’s truckers to keep up with outside competitors. California’s unique regulations, enforced by the California Highway Patrol, include limits on the length of the trucks and trailers from axel to axel and on the size of the load a truck can haul. Such regulations open the door for

outside truckers to come into the state and benefit from the California truckers’ disadvantages. For business owners like Allan Skinner, who have been in the industry for decades, the regulations need to change if the industry is to survive, especially in California. “[There’s] talk of a black box to monitor hours, pressure to haul less…and it’s a snowball effect that’s drowning us,” Skinner said. “I understand that [producers] are trying to work with a bottom line and a certain overhead… but we can do just the same as the guys back east if we had an equal playing field,” Skinner said. Livestock trucking, just like the entire agriculture industry, will continue to face changes. Some changes will be positive. Others will come from the burden of regulations. The business owners know this better than anyone. Like many struggling Americans, Allan Skinner and fellow industry professionals just want a fair chance to make an honest living. Although today’s cattle drive may look a bit more modern, it is still a long and dusty road.

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May We Interest You in Some Wine and Social Media? Story and photos by Peter Delle

30 | Winter 2012


Cal Poly Agribusiness Department study of San Luis Obispo County wineries discovered an interesting trend among certain brands and their use of social media marketing tools. As they began their research, Cal Poly faculty developed categories of wine brand personalities. These brands included ruggedness, excitement, competence, sophistication and sincerity. This study classified daring, imaginative and spirited brands as the excitement brand personality. Research found these specific brands were more likely to frequently engage in effective social media marketing. Agribusiness Professor Dr. Lindsey Higgins said, “Social media use is one of many factors that contribute to the overall wine brand personality.” After surveying 50 of the 300 wineries local to San Luis Obispo, Calif., the Agribusiness faculty found the majority had a social media presence, but only used social media tools once or twice per month. Their research also showed in order to be an effective tool, social media should encourage engagement and be used frequently. Along with being most likely to effectively utilize Facebook, the excitement brands were more likely to use Google +. Josh Beckett is the owner of Paso Robles’ Chronic Cellars, a brand that exemplifies the excitement personality. Beckett designed his labels to be different.

“There are 200 wine brands in Paso Robles and they all look the same,” Beckett said. Purple Paradise, Chronic Cellar’s most popular wine, and Sofa King Bueno, the brand’s first wine, both stand out on a shelf of local wines. Beckett wanted to completely differentiate his product. He found that most wineries in San Luis Obispo County are sold based off a wine maker’s name. Rather than use his name, Becket left it off the label and drove discussion to the wine itself. Beckett saw all of the 200 wine brands in Paso Robles appealing to the same consumer base so he developed his brand in a different way. “Chronic Cellars creates wine connoisseurs,” Beckett said. The average person is not comfortable in the stereotypical Paso Robles winery. He wanted them to be comfortable in his. Beckett said that he wanted people to be “stoked about his cool product.” Beckett recognizes the importance of social media to his brand, especially as a brand with the excitement personality. “Social media is huge,” he said. Chronic Cellars uses their one Twitter and two Facebook profiles at least once per week. Beckett said “We’ve created a wine that sells itself. We don’t have to use social media more often.” Although Beckett has a limited knowledge of Google + (like the majority of wineries surveyed), he said Chronic Cellars is willing to begin using it. He also suggested that his marketing plan might

spread to MySpace because the service has recently seen an increase in users. Chronic Cellars also differentiates itself through promotional projects. Every October, they host a Halloween party and every summer, they host a luau party on their patio. These gatherings are a perfect fit in their marketing strategies. Chronic Cellars’ differentiated products lend themselves to this type of promotion, while other wine labels in the rolling Paso Robles hills would probably be the perfect fit for a wedding. Higgins said this wine brand research project began as Michelle Witherwax’s senior project idea. Witherwax wanted to explore Google + as a marketing tool for wineries. The senior project idea was then applied to a larger, universal context of social media use in the wine industry. Recently, the relationship between social media and the wine industry has been the focus of many studies. This past spring, Cal Poly Agribusiness faculty researched social media’s role in industry communication and how higher education, specifically Cal Poly, was preparing students for the social media component of the wine and viticulture industry. The wine marketing study also discovered that the strongest wine brands had very high excitement and competence personalities, showing that social media marketing plays a role in the success of the wine brands.

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2012 Ag Circle Winter Issue  

The Brock Center for Agricultural Communications is proud to present the Winter 2012 issue of our magazine. Enjoy these stories of creative...

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