Cultivate Fall 2017

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Children of Hope Cal Poly students lend their expertise in event management and agricultural production to assist a Kenyan orphanage. Page 8


4 We welcomed students and faculty back to campus in mid-September, and have been off and running since then.

This enrollment increase was due to the increased yield of incoming freshmen and transfer students who accepted Cal Poly’s offer of admission, in part because the university’s longstanding “early decision” practice was eliminated, causing greater variability in modeling.

I invite you to continue to stay updated on these projects and more, and help where you can. It’s up to all of us to ensure that tomorrow’s students have the same incredible experiences that we did.




Q&A ————


THEN & NOW ————


Cover Story CHILDREN OF HOPE ————


While not planned, it nonetheless underscores the strength of the Cal Poly brand, as well as the need to continue to modernize and enhance our infrastructure throughout the college.

We are also building a new Center for Wine and Viticulture, in the home stretch of funding and expected to break ground in 2018, as well as in the planning stages of the new Plant Sciences Complex that will replace the old crops unit off Highland Drive.



As many may have heard, it was Cal Poly’s biggest freshman class in years, with 280 more students than initially targeted entering the college, and nearly 900 more students on campus overall.

We are still teaching and conducting research in facilities that were old when you were students, and they’re not exposing students to the current technologies they’ll be working with in their careers. Currently under development, the Science and Agriculture Teaching and Research Complex is one of the most critical of these projects. It’s a partnership between the colleges of Science and Mathematics; Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; and Liberal Arts to create a building entirely focused on teaching young people to think critically. Our portion, which has been kick-started by funding from the J.G. Boswell Foundation, will feature 12 labs that cross the spectrum of the college, from plant pathology and animal physiology to culinary and product development.









CULTIVATE is published for alumni and friends by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Dean’s Office 805-756-2161 Communications Team Haley Marconett 805-756-2933 AnnMarie Cornejo 805-756-2427

Publication Designer IE Design + Communications, Hermosa Beach, Calif. Printer ColorGraphics, Los Angeles, Calif. Staff Photographer Mady Braught Andrew J. Thulin | Dean

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New Director of Development Named Tim Northrop has joined the college as the new director of development. Prior to joining Cal Poly, Northrop worked at Yale University, as a director for development and alumni services at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to Yale, he was the Connecticut state director for the Trust for Public Land, where he helped conserve open space, preserve farmland and create new parks. He also served as an inland fisheries volunteer with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Northrop earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University and a master’s degree in environmental management from Yale. “We welcome Tim’s expertise in non-profit leadership, management and fundraising experience to the college,” said Dean Andrew Thulin. “As we continue to focus on improving student scholarships, faculty support, capital projects, equipment and lab space, fundraising is an essential component of our day-to-day operations.”

Cal Poly Strawberry Center Among Researchers Named in $4.5 Million Grant The Cal Poly Strawberry Center, along with a team of scientists throughout California and Florida, was awarded a grant to identify strawberry plants with natural disease resistance. The $4.5 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was awarded to improve the disease resistance and sustainable production of strawberries throughout the nation. The Cal Poly Strawberry Center will receive about $480,000 of the grant funding for research on campus. The center will conduct field and laboratory research aimed at accelerating the development of disease-resistant strawberry cultivars and pathogen detection techniques. Director Gerald Holmes and Plant Pathologist and Professor Kelly Ivors will lead the Cal Poly team. “This grant allows the Cal Poly Strawberry Center to play a central and critical role in a national project of great importance to the strawberry industry,” said Holmes. “The long-term goal is to increase the sustainability of strawberry production across the U.S.”

Reach Northrop at 805-756-2166 or

Summer Undergraduate Research Program CALENDAR OF UPCOMING EVENTS DEC. 9, 2017

Fall Commencement JAN. 24-25

Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Sacramento APRIL 13-14, 2018

Poly Royal Rodeo APRIL 14, 2018

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Program culminated Aug. 31 with an open-to-the-public research symposium poster session. Nearly 75 students participated in research with faculty mentors in departments across the college. The program, just finishing its second year, was launched as a way to give students the opportunity to have an immersive, hands-on research experience during the summer which might not be possible during the school year. Projects ranged from measuring the soil moisture retention characteristic of San Luis Obispo County hill slope soils for groundwater recharging, to studying the anaerobic digestion of olive pomace for the production of biofuel.

Alumni Mixer at Open House CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU



Meet Our New Faculty

Cal Poly Scholars Two new students were selected to participate in the Cal Poly Scholars program, a universitywide concept that provides scholarship funding for up to five years, campus housing for two years, and concentrated academic counseling and other academic support tools for students who come from areas that are designated as predominately low-income. The program is funded by a blend of donor contributions and designated college funds. The two new scholars are: Jacqueline Duerksen (L), a freshman from Nipomo, California, who is studying environmental earth and soil sciences and Kaleb Roberson (R), a freshman from Galt, California, who is studying agricultural science.

Richard Cobb

Charlotte Decock

Department: Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences

Department: Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences

Area of Specialty: Forest pathology and entomology

Area of Specialty: Soil health and fertility

Education: Ph.D. in ecology, UC Davis

Education: Ph.D. in soil science and biogeochemistry from UC Davis

Hometown: Payson, Arizona What book are you currently reading? “Mount Analogue” by René Daumal

Hometown: Rumbeke, Belgium

Jennifer Wishnie

Haotian Zheng

Department: Animal Science

Department: Animal Science

Area of Specialty: Veterinary public health

Area of Specialty: Dairy foods process engineering

Education: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Education: Ph.D. in food science, University of Otago, New Zealand

Hometown: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

What book are you currently reading? “Miracles of the Namiya General Store” by Keigo Higashino

What book are you currently reading? “Somewhere in France” by Jennifer Robson

“The Cal Poly Scholars program has helped me immensely by putting on events where I not only get to meet my peers from different fields on campus, but I also get to network with people who sponsor students on campus and who genuinely love Cal Poly like I do,” said Duerksen. Roberson said he plans to pursue a career as a teacher after he graduates from Cal Poly. “Cal Poly Scholars will definitely assist me in pursuing my career, because in my short time at Cal Poly so far I have begun to develop a network of friendships I can see lasting a lifetime, as well as experiencing plenty of opportunities to develop a sense of professionalism in any career field that I may pursue, including education,” he said. This is the second year that the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences has secured the funding to offer these scholarships, and the college is now aiding five students through the program. To help involve even more students in need, contact Russ Kabaker at 805-756-6601 or


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What book are you currently reading? “California” by Edan Lepucki

Hometown: Harbin, China



Oppenheimer Family Equine Center


Construction on the first phase of the Oppenheimer Family Equine Center began in July, paving the way for a new covered riding arena, foaling barn, stallion barn, and hay barn at the northern end of Cal Poly’s campus. The project is being funded by the $20 million donation made to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), from longtime Cal Poly supporters Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer in 2014. The foaling barn – a favorite destination of Cal Poly visitors to watch young foals play in the surrounding fields — and the stallion barns, both more than 60 years old, were demolished over the summer and construction of the new facilities began in October. The horses typically housed in the barns are being kept off campus in Cal Poly pastures. A few of the horses, including the stallions, foals and mustang enterprise horses, have been temporarily relocated to the beef unit, said Julie Yuhas-Volk, manager of the equine center. “We are so excited about this project,” said Yuhas-Volk. “The new facility will be a huge benefit to our students and their Learn by Doing experiences at the equine unit.” The first phase is expected to be complete in February 2018. A second riding arena, an Animal Health Center and an Agriculture Event Center, all funded in some part by the Oppenheimers’ donation, are also in the planning phase. “We are continually grateful for this generous gift from Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer,” said Andrew Thulin, dean of CAFES. “We have all worked long and hard to break ground on this project, which will exponentially improve the experience of our students.”

Aerial photo courtesy of Speciality Construction Inc. Renderings provided by the architectural firm Populous Inc.




At 10:45 a.m. on May 21, Cal Poly alumnus John Stenderup (Agricultural Business, ’08) walked onto the summit of Mt. Everest – making him one of less than 5,000 people worldwide to ever do so.



The journey that got him to that point is one of perseverance and a love of adventure. Stenderup, 31, born of agricultural roots that date back nearly a century, knew at a young age growing up in the small city of Arvin, California, that Cal Poly was his college of choice. “I grew up on a family farm that has been around for 90 years,” said Stenderup. “I was immersed in agriculture and at my high school Cal Poly was one of those schools — it was a lot of kids’ big goal to go there.” His interest in business, economics and trade, wedded to his roots in agriculture, led Stenderup to pursue a degree in agribusiness. For him, agriculture was an essential part of the community that he cherished from his youth. “People in the agricultural industry are a different group of people because of how close-knit they all are,” he said. “Relationships are paramount and Cal Poly honors that and the age of technology that we are in.” He boldly calls Cal Poly the greatest university in the world. “It truly is a bigtime university with a small university feel,” he said. “While there I was constantly engaged with faculty and industry representatives and I have


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kept those connections to this day. There is an incredible sense of unity that comes with attending Cal Poly.” Today, he serves on Cal Poly’s Agribusiness Advisory Board and is a frequent guest lecturer. Right out of college he landed a job at C.H. Robinson, a global logistics company that specializes in the transportation, procurement and technological services of the produce industry. Today he works as a strategic sales associate for the fresh produce division, coordinating globally with companies to deliver fresh produce and perishable commodities using an optimized supply chain. In his free time, Stenderup is an avid ice climber and mountaineer – a passion born of long hikes that he started to do with his dad in his early 20s. “Perseverance is at the forefront of produce, agriculture, climbing, family and all of my relationships,” said Stenderup. “It is unparalleled in each of them. The only constant in this world is change and no matter how much planning you do, especially in agriculture, the one thing you can count on is that it is not going to go as planned.” For years he and his father talked about Mt. Everest until two years ago when they committed to planning

the trip. His dad would escort his son on the eight-day, 38-mile hike to the basecamp and Stenderup would keep climbing. Stenderup admits that balancing six months of intense training leading up to the climb and a full-time job was difficult at times. “It takes a great deal of planning and drive,” he said. “More importantly it takes a strong team around you at work that supports you in journeys such as this one.” “My entire climbing career has happened here at C.H. Robinson. My co-workers have had the chance to live it with me – it is not just about me being able to achieve this, it takes surrounding yourself with the right people and allowing them to experience it with you too.” He chronicled the journey on his blog The lessons that he learned during the two-month trek up Mt. Everest, and the challenges and triumphs that occurred, will forever stay with him. “This journey made me a better friend, a better family member, and a better employee,” said Stenderup. “Life is about teamwork and trust. We are all better as a team.”

The only constant in this world is change and no matter how much planning you do, especially in agriculture, the one thing you can count on is that it is not going to go as planned. John Stenderup

ALUMNI FEATURE Read John’s firsthand account of his journey to Everest in the current issue Cal Poly Magazine at

Clockwise from top: View of the south face of Everest, taken by Stenderup during his ascent of Lhotse, the fourth tallest mountain in the world, just 47 hours after summiting Everest. Stenderup and his father, Kent Stenderup, enjoy their first glimpse of Everest together. John Stenderup (at right) and longtime friend and climbing partner, Geoff Schellens, kneel on the summit of Everest. Buddhist prayer flags flying over Lobuche Pass on the trek to Everest basecamp.




Rodrigo Manjarín, assistant professor in the Cal Poly Animal Science Department, is overseeing a cutting-edge research project focused on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease using a special breed of swine from Spain called Iberian pigs. Ten sows and one boar are being leased to Cal Poly for the project. “I was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which would have led to diabetes, and was able to reverse the condition within one year through diet change,” said Manjarín. “If we can show the good and bad effects of what we eat not just in one patient but in many, so that it becomes statistically relevant, maybe people will start to believe that certain foods and eating habits can lead to serious health conditions.”

What is an Iberian pig? How is it different from other swine typically raised in North America?

A: Iberian pigs come from Spain where they have been raised for hundreds of years to provide meat in areas where it is otherwise difficult to raise any other livestock. Iberian pigs can survive in harsh conditions thanks to a phenotype that allows them to store energy as fat, allowing them to use this energy during periods of food scarcity. This phenotype is caused by a mutation in the Leptin receptor, making it so the pigs are able to ingest a lot of food without feeling satiety, as well as to store it as fat. They are bred free range, grazing on acorns that fall from oak trees. They consume large amounts of acorns, nature pastures and proteins, while they exercise looking for food. The fat stored from the special diet producing marbling of the meat giving the product appealing gastronomic properties.

Where did you get the pigs? How many do you have and how long will you keep them?

A: The pigs we are studying at Cal Poly are from a pure Iberian breed from Texas. The pigs were born of the first Iberian pigs brought to the U.S. by the company Acornseekers. Cal Poly currently has 10 females and one male, which will be used for both research and to teach students sustainable swine production.

You will be doing cutting edge research related to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. What exactly will you be studying?

A: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a health problem commonly diagnosed among adolescents in the U.S., along with other conditions of the metabolic syndrome, all of them associated with diet. We are trying to understand the effect of dietary sugar and fat in bacterial populations in the gut, and how changes in these bacterial populations affect liver inflammation and fat deposition in infants.

How are students incorporated into your research?

A: Students are responsible for maintaining the Iberian pig colony and assisting the graduate students with daily research tasks such as overseeing research diets, collecting and processing samples, and handling animals.

Q&A What is your ultimate goal with the project?

A: To understand how food impacts health and life overall, so that

decisions about diet can correlate. We are researching the role that probiotics might play in reducing the impacts of metabolic syndrome, which leads to heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes and strokes. Ultimately, we want to determine the link between what is happening in the gut with bacteria and how that impacts the functioning of the liver.


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Mrs. Adrian Harders holding stallion ‘Zuncho,’ in 1947. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

Rooted in Our History BY LA U R A S O RVE TT I | University Archives In the summer of 1940, Cal Poly began construction on a Thoroughbred Horse Barn and paddock, designed by the State Architects in the Department of Public Works. It marked the beginning of the Thoroughbred Breeding Unit, operated cooperatively on the campus with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA). The program provided instruction in care, handling, and breeding of light horses to animal husbandry students. The members of the CTBA donated 10 Thoroughbred mares and Zuncho, a thoroughbred sire imported from Argentina and donated by Walter T. Wells. The offspring of the mares, raised to yearlings by the students, were sold at the annual California Thoroughbred Sales and the process helped defray the cost of maintaining the instructional unit. This program continues today. The current Thoroughbred Enterprise markets yearlings at the annual Barretts’ yearling sale in Pomona, California. Students are responsible for maintaining the Thoroughbred broodmares, handling the foals, and preparing the yearlings for the sale, from which they will head to the racetrack. CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU



Children of Hope Eleven Cal Poly students and two professors with diverse academic backgrounds spent three weeks this summer in July at the Children of Hope orphanage in Kikuyu, Kenya as part of the Internship in Agriculture class.


The orphanage, just outside of Nairobi, has two children’s homes on 50 acres of rolling farmland. It is largely funded by donors from the United States and operated by a nonprofit based in Colorado. When purchased, the property came with six small cottages, a large kitchen, a dining cottage, and space nearby for soccer and other recreation activities, group camp outs, or weddings. The team of Cal Poly students had one objective: to increase the orphanage’s revenue by utilizing and improving its existing resources. Ideally, the orphanage would generate more income from farm production by selling crops and livestock such as cattle and by renting out their facilities for weddings, or church and corporate retreats. The students, who were divided


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into two groups to analyze both tourism and event management and agricultural production, came from seven different majors in three colleges: the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; Architecture and Environmental Design; and Orfalea College of Business. Jana Russell, a third-year agricultural science major, assisted with the sustainable tourism plan and a project focused on the swine portion of the agriculture study. She said the trip inspired her to pursue a path in international agriculture in addition to her longstanding dream of teaching agriculture. “I would like to work with a company or nonprofit to help educate farmers in less developed countries on simple agricultural practices,” said Russell. “Being able to share

everything that I have learned from Cal Poly and the industry with those who don’t have the same opportunities is very inspiring to me.” Ashraf Tubeileh, assistant professor in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department, led the students in the agricultural study, assessing the farm, doing soil samples and analyzing the cost and production of the cows and chickens. Students also visited other farms including a swine farm and an agricultural supply company. “I had two main goals,” said Tubeileh. “I wanted to improve the profitability of the farm by improving crop and animal management, and to expose Cal Poly students to tropical agriculture in a developing country.” Assistant Professor Keri Schwab, of the Experience Industry Management Department, guided the students in the sustainable tourism study by examining the domestic market, visiting nearby hotels and venues and delving into the orphanage’s existing marketing and business plan. “In the end, the students created a more than 100-page business and marketing plan, complete with redone spreadsheet


templates for accurate reporting, suggested a new name, logo, and brochure for the cottages, and dozens of social media posts,” said Schwab. The team of students also suggested both short-term and long-term plans for facility and service upgrades.

Being able to share everything that I have learned from Cal Poly and the industry with those who don’t have the same opportunities is very inspiring to me. Jana Russell

Between the long hours of working at the orphanage, Cal Poly students traveled to nearby destinations such as Hell’s Gate National Park, the Giraffe Centre, an elephant orphanage, the local farmers market and a major sports event in Nairobi. “We were almost always greeted with smiles, and what I felt was an open and accepting attitude of mazungos (white people),” said Schwab. “The Kenyans seemed happy to welcome us to their country and often asked if this was our first time and what we thought of their country.” However, the nearby political strife and violence pulsing throughout the area was a reality that the group became well versed in through the stories of those they met and the orphans living at the compound. “We were incredibly lucky to have the peaceful respite of the Children of Hope property. We were safe

in the tall hedges and trees, the rolling hills and the 50 acres that kept Kikuyu town at bay,” said Schwab, who described the cities as rough, gritty and crowded.

they have, but even more so by the people who work and live there. They were giving, caring, open, and honest with us and with the children.”

The orphanage supports up to 30 youth at one time, from infancy through college age. Any additional revenue would be used to support that mission. The orphans’ stories were interlaced with that violence — many having witnessed their parents being beaten or being beaten themselves. Many of them were HIV positive.

Their charisma also inspired Russell.

“But the warmth and love given to the children by the ‘aunties’ and the family feeling created on the property as a sanctuary, make it feel like a different world,” said Schwab. "That feeling is in part created by the amount of space

“I think the biggest lesson I learned was to take everything around you and always find the positive,” said Russell. “We would be driving or walking around and every person we passed would wave and smile. If we stopped, we were asked questions and taken in without hesitation. This was a huge lesson for me to be a part of; taking the time and treating each person that I come in contact with as a way to improve my own life and theirs as well.”




Definition of success 1 a: degree or measure of succeeding b: satisfactory completion of something c: the gaining of wealth, respect or fame 2: a person or thing that succeeds


(L to R) Elise Regusci, Elisabeth Regusci, Hannah Neer, Alex Gambonini, and Rich Silacci (coach) at the All-American Dairy Show awards ceremony.




AgBOT Challenge


(L to R) Kristen Cotter, Dawn Mones and Sara Do at the American Institute of Floral Designer’s 2017 Student Floral Design Competition.

Floral Team Second in the Nation

A team of BioResource and Engineering Department students won second place and $15,000 at the AgBOT challenge, an annual competition held to showcase the newest technology in agriculture.

The Cal Poly Floral Design Team ranked second in the nation at the American Institute of Floral Designer’s (AIFD) 2017 Student Floral Design Competition held July 1-5 in Seattle, Washington.

The seven-person Cal Poly team drove more than 30 hours and 2,171 miles to get there — and was determined to succeed. Ultimately, the Cal Poly tractor planted different corn seed varieties in a straight line in two rows, turned around, and planted another two rows of seeds — all without a driver in the seat. The tractor also automatically applied fertilizers and live-streamed video from the front and rear while planting.

Agriculture and environmental plant sciences major Dawn Mones, who graduated in September, won high honors at the event with the overall highest student score for the competition. Mones placed first in the wedding bouquet category and second in the fashion flowers and people’s choice categories.

“We spent two quarters transforming a 30-year-old tractor into a state-of-the-art wirelessly remote-controlled tractor,” said Caleb Fink, a graduate student studying agriculture and the team’s manager. “With a very limited budget we used a lot of scrap metals and brainstormed a lot of innovative ways to make things happen.” The team, consisting of biorescource and agricultural engineering majors Ryan Vyenielo, Charlie Ross, Dillon Beatty, Austin Della, Nate McCarthy, Matthew Valentine and Fink, was charged with creating an unmanned robotic device that could autonomously move through a field and plant up to four rows of seeds. Professor Bo Liu acted as the faculty advisor to the team and Professor Mark Zohns and Lecturer Gary Weisenberger advised on the tractor’s mechanics.


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Students competed in the competition’s four categories: interpretative, fashion flowers, wedding and sympathy. Alumna Sara Do, who graduated from Cal Poly in spring 2017 with a degree in agriculture and environmental plant sciences, placed fifth in the fashion flowers competition and sixth in the wedding bouquet category. Kristen Cotter, a senior agricultural and environmental plant sciences major, placed sixth in the wedding bouquet category. The team was led by Cal Poly Lecturer Melinda Lynch and alumna Katie Noonan.



3 D airy Judging Team Takes First Place at National Competition

4 A gricultural Sciences Major Named President of the ASI

The Dairy Judging Team won first place in oral reasons and fourth place overall in the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Fourteen teams representing the top dairy and animal science college programs throughout the nation competed in the Youth Judging Contest on Sept. 18.

Riley Nilsen, a fourth-year agricultural sciences major with an emphasis in teaching and ornamental horticulture, was elected by her peers to serve as the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president for the 2017-18 academic year. She is the third consecutive student from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) to hold the post.

Four of the Cal Poly team’s 16 members competed: dairy science juniors Elise Regusci and Elisabeth Regusci, animal science junior Hannah Neer, and dairy science junior Alex Gambonini.

As an active member of the Cal Poly community and native to San Luis Obispo County, she is passionate about the campus’ wellbeing and has a reverence for the student voice. “I ran on a student first platform focusing on three R’s: building relationships, providing resources, and advocating for student rights. These principles will guide my year because I believe they work in harmony to facilitate the welcoming, energetic, and dynamic campus community that all Mustangs deserve to experience,” said Nilsen.

Contestants judged 10 classes of cattle, then gave oral reasons on four or five of the classes depending on their division. The team’s individual placings included: Gambonini, first in Guernseys and fourth in Ayrshires, third in reasons and third overall; Elisabeth Regusci, fourth in reasons; Elise Regusci, fourth in Jerseys. The team placed first in Jerseys and second in Guernseys. Cal Poly’s dairy cattle judging team is coached by Dairy Science Lecturer Rich Silacci and assisted by retired Professor Stan Henderson.

If given three words to describe her experience at Cal Poly, Nilsen would use: opportunity, supportive and career driven. “I love CAFES,” she said. “I think because so many of our majors correlate to heavily regulated industries, we are taught to be involved in government relations and in leadership through our academics. I have been really impressed with how CAFES students communicate with one another and can come together on any issue. It is such a unique skill that I am proud to say our college is known for.”




2021 The incoming class of 2021 is one of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences’ largest classes yet. In all, 1,068 first-time freshman and 188 transfer students joined one of the college’s nine departments and 15 majors. Those students, who have an average GPA of 3.9, represent more than 50 counties in California and come from 25 states, spanning from Yuma, Arizona, to Queensbury, New York.


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Leaving a Legacy When Professor Virginia Walter retired from the Horticulture and Crop Science Department in September, after 43 years at Cal Poly, she wanted to ensure that future students would be afforded the same hands-on teaching that she dedicated her career to.

Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture Department Reaches Strategic Milestone The fundraising campaign for Cal Poly's Center for Wine and Viticulture is now at two-thirds of its goal, with groundbreaking anticipated in spring 2018. The project will modernize Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture program by building a 27,300-square-foot Center for Wine and Viticulture that will include both a winery and a grange hall. The buildings will include crush, fermentation, barrel, sensory, bottling, enology and viticulture rooms, as well as teaching and research labs, a bonded winery, offices, and community and industry meeting spaces. The center is the next big thing for Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture program — the largest of its kind in the in U.S. The growth of the program is in response to the increased demand for wine industry professionals. In May, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Dean Andy Thulin, Wine and Viticulture Department Head Benoît Lecat and longtime supporter Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards hosted three receptions to speak with friends and industry partners in some of the state’s premier grape-growing and winemaking regions — resulting in more than $1.5 million in additional pledges to the Center for Wine and Viticulture. Kim Ledbetter of Vino Farms in Lodi, California pledged $1 millon and Ron McManis of McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon, California pledged $500,000, among other donors. This fall, a reception is planned in Edna Valley, at Tolosa Winery, in San Luis Obispo, California. “Here is a chance to invest in young people and training that is going to have an immediate positive impact,” said Lohr. “The idea of being a part of something that is vertically integrated where you grow, make, and sell a product is a unique industry opportunity – and Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology is teaching students just that every day.”

To join the effort to build the Wine and Viticulture Center, contact Grant Kirkpatrick, senior director of development, at 805-756-2173 or

To secure this legacy, Walter launched the Greenhouse Production Endowed Professorship fund, donating $100,000 to kick off the fundraising effort. Endowed faculty positions are paid for using the interest generated from the endowment — making the positions safeguarded from state budget fluctuations. “I have had the privilege of seeing these students go out into the real world and become successful members of the industry,” said Walter. “I am fortunate to have the funds available to try and make this legacy last into the foreseeable future, and I feel that our graduates love Cal Poly and horticulture with the same or even stronger passion than I.” An initial amount of $1 million is needed to begin to generate enough interest on the principal of the donated amount to support a professor’s salary. Ultimately, $3.5 million is needed to fully fund an endowed professorship, paying for both salary and benefits. Walter joined Cal Poly’s faculty in 1974, later serving as the interim department head for the then Department of Environmental Horticultural Science from 1997 to 2000. Throughout her career she taught at all levels, from introductory courses, to advanced courses in abiotic diseases, greenhouse production and controlled environments. Please join us in commemorating Walter’s many accomplishments and the legacy she leaves behind at Cal Poly by donating today.

I have had the privilege of seeing these students go out into the real world and become successful members of the industry. I am fortunate to have the funds available to try and make this legacy last into the foreseeable future, and I feel that our graduates love Cal Poly and horticulture with the same or even stronger passion than I. Virginia Walter

To support the Greenhouse Production Endowed Professorship, contact Russ Kabaker, assistant dean of advancement and external relations, at 805-756-6601 or




New Graduate Fellowship Focused on the Global Reduction of Food Waste

Waste Away


Cal Poly’s Food Science and Nutrition Department was awarded a nearly $250,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Needs and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program to focus on the conversion of agricultural and food waste challenges into opportunities. The funding will be used over a four-year period to enroll six students in the master’s in agriculture program with a specialization in food science. The students’ coursework will be focused on global issues related to agricultural and food waste. The cross-disciplinary program will involve 11 faculty members from across the university, including food science and nutrition, industrial packaging, animal science, and engineering. Food science Professor Stephanie Jung and Associate Professor Amanda Lathrop will oversee the program. “This program will expose fellows to an array of academic, intellectual, and global themes


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pertaining to food waste and the ways to overcome the challenges associated with it,” said Jung. “Students will address the economic, environmental, and social burden of food waste.” It is estimated that 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is wasted each year. In 2015, the USDA launched the first-ever national food loss and waste goal, calling for a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030. “To meet those goals both nationally and outside the U.S., there will be an increased demand by the industry and governmental institutions for food scientists to implement solutions,” said Jung. “As it is now, there are limited training opportunities for food science students in this area. This program will provide the research needed to guide the food industry on possible alternatives to handling food waste and provide trained students with the leadership and technical skills needed to solve those challenges.”

Forty percent of food produced in the U.S. is wasted each year.

Professors Awarded $140,000 USDA Grant to Teach Environmental Science Communication Yi-Wen Chiu, an assistant professor in Cal Poly’s Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department, is partnering with Cal Poly English Professor Jason Peters to pilot new curriculum combining environmental science and rhetoric with the goal of teaching students how to best communicate about sustainable agriculture. Chiu and Peters received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grants Program for $140,000 to fund the new curriculum over a three-year period.

This program will expose fellows to an array of academic, intellectual, and global themes pertaining to food waste and the ways to overcome the challenges associated with it.

The project treats scientific methods of research and data analysis as

The curriculum will consist of required courses in environmental life-cycle analysis combined with courses in public rhetoric and environmental communication.

components of the

“Creating sustainable agriculture requires scientific skills like quantitative analysis,” Peters said. “It also requires students to learn to talk to a range of stakeholders in all sorts of situations to get people working together in innovative ways based on what the science is telling us. That’s where environmental rhetoric and communication comes in.

treats writing

“With the program Yi-Wen and I are designing, students will learn how to get legislators, farmers, environmental scientists, citizens and consumers all on the same page and collaborating to make the science of sustainability work.”

writing process, and it likewise processes and rhetorical strategies as part of the work of doing environmental science. Yi-Wen Chiu

Chiu added that the new curriculum reflects a deep disciplinary relationship linking to content areas previously thought to be only minimally connected. “The project treats scientific methods of research and data analysis as components of the writing process, and it likewise treats writing processes and rhetorical strategies as part of the work of doing environmental science,” she said.

Stephanie Jung




Field Day Dean Andrew Thulin Appointed to State Board Cal Poly Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Andrew Thulin has been appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Gov. Jerry Brown. Thulin will serve on the 15-member state board, serving as an advisory member to the governor and secretary on issues such as food safety and animal health. “I am honored to represent Cal Poly and the larger community of California’s farmers and ranchers, community stakeholders and citizens on issues that are pertinent to the agriculture industry,” said Thulin. “We are working hard every day to prepare our students for the future demands facing the industry — and we can only do that by all working together.” The California State Board of Food and Agriculture is carefully selected to represent a broad range of agricultural commodities, a variety of geographic regions and both the University of California and California State University academic systems.


FALL 2017

More than 200 people attended the Cal Poly Strawberry Center’s inaugural Field Day on July 27, representing all aspects of the strawberry industry including growers, researchers and industry representatives. The results of 10 experiments were on display, including two variety trials demonstrating the susceptibility of 90 strawberry varieties to two soilborne diseases: Verticillium wilt and Macrophomina charcoal rot. Other demonstrations included projects on labor-saving automation for strawberry production such as a remote-controlled device that can travel between the rows of strawberry plants and capture images of berries to be transmitted back to growers. Strawberry Center Director Gerald Holmes, plant pathologist Kelly Ivors, research associate Ryan Brantley, and bio-engineer John Lin were among the presenters. Several Cal Poly students pursuing their master’s degrees also presented their research. The next Field Day will be held in July 2018.



The last CAFES teaching and research building was constructed nearly 35 years ago.


The college is now utilizing existing buildings at 113 percent of capacity. This will alleviate some of that overload.


Expanding agricultural research facilities will allow the college to work with more industry partners to solve real-time problems.


The center is envisioned to be at least 101,417 square feet and will include research labs and technology space for three colleges:

1 College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Lab focus areas include: Plant Pathology; Physiology and Genomics; Soil, Water and Air Quality; Animal Physiology; Food Safety Teaching and Research; Food Nutrition and Metabolism Analytics; Food Product Innovation; Culinary; Sensory and Consumer Insight; Food and Beverage Analytics; Health and Performance; Experience Management Sandbox.

As our new faculty seek to develop their teaching and research, they need state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to prepare graduates for the global demands of the next century.

2 College of Science and Mathematics

3 College of Liberal Arts

To make a gift or learn more, contact: Russ Kabaker, assistant dean of advancement and external relations 805-756-6601 or

California Polytechnic State University 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, California 93407-0250