Cultivate Summer 2021

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ISSUE 15

SUMMER 2021

STUDENTS HELPING STUDENTS PG. 4


A NOTE FROM THE DEAN

SUMMER 2021

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Looking forward. As I stood on stage at Spanos Stadium on June 13 and shook the hands of the Class of 2021 graduating seniors, I felt my first sense of ease in what seems like a very long time. These students, as those that came before them and those that will come after, are our future. And let me assure you, it’s a bright one. We are teaching these young people how to use climate-smart agricultural practices to provide food security and environmental protection. They are learning the interconnectedness of it all and emerging into their chosen fields ready to work together, in unity, for a common goal of global health. In this issue, you’ll read stories about students helping others — helping both their fellow scholars and the larger community outside of Cal Poly. They understand that compassion is the root of success and that working together at a societal level is essential for the future. Not just any future, but a very bright future. As we emerge from the pandemic of this past year, let us not forget the valuable lessons that we learned in the last year-and-a-half — we are in this together, and combined, we can accomplish anything that we put our hearts and minds into. Thank you for supporting Cal Poly and our future.

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DRONE-ASSISTED SURVEYING

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Q&A

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Cover Story STUDENTS HELPING STUDENTS

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SWANTON PACIFIC RANCH UPDATE ————

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PACKAGING PATENT

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

To continued good health,

Publication Designer Julia Jackson-Clark

(Graphic Communication, '19)

juliajackson-clark.com Printer Lithographix Los Angeles, California Staff Photographers Felipe Vallejo

(Agricultural Communication, '21)

Haley Olson

(Agricultural Science, '21)

cafes.calpoly.edu

Andrew J. Thulin , Ph.D. | Dean

Stay connected on:


DOGGY DAYS The Veterinary Community Service Enterprise received the Outstanding Campus-Community Collaboration Award as part of the 35th annual Cal Poly Community Service Awards

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Each quarter a group of Cal Poly students dedicate part of their Saturday mornings to giving back to the community by offering free veterinary care clinics for the pets of the unhoused population in San Luis Obispo County. The Cal Poly Veterinary Community Service Enterprise, dubbed Doggy Days, began as a senior project and has grown over the last six years to become an instrumental class in veterinary care. The 10-week course introduces students to practical, hands-on methods of animal care, such as wellness checks and administering vaccines, and also teaches the invaluable lesson of compasOur clients are very sion and the fundamental strength committed to their pets, of being part of a community.

which in turn can help with

The Veterinary Community Service Enterprise recently received the 35th annual Cal Poly Community Service Award for Outstanding Campus-Community Collaboration from the Cal Poly Center for Service in Action in recognition of its community contributions.

Wendy Joy Dochterman, a thirdmental health, a sense of year animal science major, plans security on the streets, and a to be a veterinarian — a dream she form of companionship not The confidence that students gain by the has had since she was a little girl. often available in their end of the quarter is tenfold, Staniec said. “When I was really young, I wanted environment." to be a pet masseuse, and my parents “What we do with Doggy Days has nothing had to break it to me that it is not a thing,” to do with how many community service hours Dochterman said laughing. “So, I decided we need,” said Dochterman. “The entire focus is that I would be a doctor.” She joined the upto serve the community and keep herd immunity high to per-division Doggy Days course for the practical experience of protect not only the pets we care for at the clinic, but also the working directly with clients. greater pet population of the surrounding area by reducing the The 16-person course is open to students of any major, but it is geared toward those who have taken prerequisite classes in veterinary skills or have comparable experience. In the classroom, students learn how to fundraise for needed supplies, track inventory, budget and provide client education. In the field, they employ the technical skills that they have learned, such as doing health screenings and administering vaccines. “Students get to do a lot of things that they will benefit from in the future,” said Lecturer Jennifer Staniec, a veterinarian who teaches the course. “From veterinary medicine to client education and philanthropic work, the course allows students the opportunity to develop compassion for the people in their community and to be a part of the community themselves.”

spread of disease and parasites.”

Staniec said she has learned her own lessons working alongside the students in the clinic and the clients they serve. “As a veterinarian, I once questioned why unhoused people would have pets, but this clinic has changed the way I see the unhoused population,” Staniec said. “Our clients are very committed to their pets, which in turn can help with mental health, a sense of security on the streets, and a form of companionship not often available in their environment. It is an unmistakable illustration of the human-animal bond.” Read third-year animal science major Lena Hoover’s firsthand perspective on the experience here: https://magazine.calpoly. edu/spring-summer-2021/a-pawsitive-learning-experience/. CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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FEATURE

a job within the city of San Francisco’s environmental outreach programs. “While I may not use drones in my job, it is good to know the interest of the stakeholders I will be working with.”

Drone-assisted surveying

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Students stand clustered in a dirt parking lot, underneath the blaring heat of an early spring day, their eyes cast to the sky as a steady buzzing sound emanates from above. A small drone, not much bigger than the palm of an outstretched hand, hovers overhead. The students are enrolled in a drone-assisted surveying course — ­ the first of its kind offered by the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department. The burgeoning use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to map land is changing the way that land surveying is done ­— making the process of creating maps more efficient. The department purchased six minidrones and two larger ones for students to gain hands-on experience. The nine students taking the course are mostly upperclassmen from a range of majors across the university, including environmental management and protection, construction management, and bioresource and agricultural engineering. Augustina Mogetta, a fourth-year environmental management and protection major, took the course to fulfill a minor in geographic information systems. “There is a whole world out there for drone applications,” said Mogetta, who has accepted

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Lecturer Lewis Soloff, who has worked for years as a land surveyor, said that what would have once taken several days to do can now be done in a matter of minutes using the advanced technology. Land is surveyed to determine property boundaries and topography of the parcel being surveyed. Soloff has students flying the smallest of the drones on their second day of class — learning how to navigate the controls from their smartphones. “I want the students to approach this emergent technology with confidence,” said Soloff. “I encourage them to be bold but to follow the safety protocols.” Students learn aviation and safety laws, how to operate both large and small drones, and how to become certified to fly drones for commercial purposes by obtaining the Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. Soloff said students are likely to use the technology beyond mapping for other practical uses, such as quickly inspecting large areas of farmland to survey plant health, or in forestry, to study drought impacts, or to distinguish what types of trees are grouped in particular areas. “Surveying a 10-acre site with modern ground instruments might take two days with a two-person crew,” said Soloff. “Now, a drone can fly for eight minutes and capture the same imagery. The increase in productivity is almost unbelievable, and of all the possible applications of drones, most people in the field consider that agriculture stands to gain the most from this technology.” The examples are endless. Infrared technology can be used to make a map in a single afternoon to determine where problem areas are, such as an aphid infestation. A 30-acre site can quickly be surveyed to see where water flows, or doesn’t, and determine problem areas and find resolutions. “There are huge cost and ecological benefits,” Soloff said.


NEWS & NOTES

CAL POLY PERFORMANCE HORSE SALE

CALENDAR OF UPCOMING EVENTS

Sept. 13

Fall quarter classes begin

Sept. 17

Fall Student Welcome

Oct. 15

Fall Preview

Oct. 23

The student-run Cal Poly Performance Horse Sale held June 19 at the Oppenheimer Family Equine Center sold 30 horses earning $420,000 for the Cal Poly equine program. The auctioned horses were bred, foaled and trained by Cal Poly students over more than two years as part of the Quarter Horse Enterprise project. Students trained the horses to work cattle, ride on trails, and perform arena work such as stops, spins and rollbacks. The 2020 horse sale was cancelled due to COVID-19, leading to a higher number of horses for sale than typical years. Horses sold are destined for Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Texas and throughout California. Unique this year, horses were auctioned off in front of a live audience that was also broadcasted online for those wishing to bid remotely.

Mustang Family Weekend

NIKIKO MASUMOTO

Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences alumnus Charlie Walton (Ornamental Horticulture, '66) was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree at Cal Poly's June 2021 commencement ceremony. Watch the full video at https://bit.ly/calpolywalton.

The college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee hosted “Not Your Average Farmer: A Conversation with Nikiko Masumoto” in May, which was attended by more than 100 faculty, staff and students. Masumoto, born in the Central Valley of California, explored her experience as a person of color in the food and agriculture space. Masumoto spent her childhood on the Masumoto Family Farm, an 80-acre organic farm in Del Rey. Before returning to farm side by side with her father, Nikiko earned a bachelor's degree in gender and women’s studies from UC Berkeley and a master's in performance as public practice from the University of Texas at Austin. Her passion for arts and activism is woven with her love of the land and dreams of a sustainable future. You can watch the event at our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/CalPolyCAFES. CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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COVER STORY

STUDENTS helping STUDENTS

It gave us the practical experience of recipe scaling and applying large-scale management operations skills, as well as allowed us to serve our local campus community and provide students with scratchcooked, on-the-go, nutritious meals."

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COVER STORY

More than 400 prepared and packaged meals were donated to the Cal Poly Food Pantry during the winter and spring quarters by a group of students enrolled in a food service operations course, offered through the Cal Poly Food Science and Nutrition Department. Students enrolled in the upper-level course, which teaches large-scale food production, created the recipes, prepared the food at the campus culinary lab, and packaged it for consumption. In the past, students put their skills to the test by catering a portion Cal Poly’s annual Open House event. However, this year, with those events held virtually, students pivoted the plan to support their fellow students in need. “We wanted to donate the food to the Cal Poly Food Pantry because it helps give back to our own community,” said Briana Lewis, a third-year food science major who chose the major because it combines her two passions for cooking and chemistry. The Cal Poly Food Pantry was launched by faculty and staff who saw an increasing number of students without the means to purchase basic food and supplies. The pantry serves students and university employees who might be experiencing food insecurity or other financial need. Visitors to the food pantry can choose from a wide variety of packaged and canned foods, fresh produce, frozen meals and personal hygiene products. Oscar Velasco, AmeriCorps fellow and basic needs and food pantry coordinator, said the pantry works with campus partners such as the Cal Poly Farm and Campus Dining to expand the diversity of fresh produce and meals available to those in need. “We’ve learned that with the busy schedule of students, they often want something that is quick and easy,” said Velasco. “These donated meals provided a nutritious, easy grab-and-go meal option.” In addition to learning large-scale food preparation, students learn the economic principles and problems involved in planning and preparing food using institutional equipment to meet specific product standards for large groups, said Lecturer Julie Chessen. Students are responsible for all the administrative tasks involved in an institutional setting related to food purchasing, such as taking inventory of goods, placing food

Pictured above: Food science students package individual salads for the Cal Poly Food Pantry. orders, and preparing meals. Preparing the foods for the Cal Poly Food Pantry gave students the hands-on opportunity to execute their plans. At the culmination of the course, students were split into four groups, each responsible for preparing 50 servings of their chosen recipe. In spring quarter, students prepared a vegan pesto pasta salad, a Mediterranean pasta salad, an Asian noodle dish and a chicken vegetable wrap. Larisa Williams, a fourth-year student double majoring in nutrition and Spanish, took the food service operations course in the winter quarter. She suggested partnering with the Cal Poly Food Pantry because of her involvement with the Peer Health Education Program, which supports the health and well-being of students on campus. “In the class, I learned valuable managerial skills that can be translated into any leadership role. One of the biggest takeaways for me was how important it is to assess and re-assess goals, staff training and morale, budget, and so many more components that leaders must consider,” said Williams, who plans to become a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes care and education. “It gave us the practical experience of recipe scaling and applying large-scale management operations skills, as well as allowed us to serve our local campus community and provide students with scratch-cooked, on-the-go, nutritious meals. It was so neat to have a Learn by Doing experience that helped our campus community.” CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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FEATURE

SWANTON PACIFIC RANCH GROWING OPPORTUNITIES

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A steady bustle of activity continues at Swanton Pacific Ranch as recovery efforts continue following the August 2020 fire that destroyed much of the ranch’s infrastructure. Specialized contractors continue to remove ash and debris from the ranch, creating a fresh palette for rebuilding. For the first time in nearly a year, a few students are returning to work full time at the ranch to provide help in recovery efforts. Swanton Pacific, in Santa Cruz County, is managed by Cal Poly's College of College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. The paid student positions allow students to gain practical, hands-on experience in post-fire recovery. Raymond Dennis, a fourth-year agricultural and environmental plant sciences major, Pierce Spielman, a third-year environmental earth and soil sciences major, and Sophia Marquez (Environmental Management and Protection, ’21), will spend the summer clearing roads and trails, identifying and removing hazard trees, measuring and removing damaged fences, rehabilitating the apple orchard, and providing administrative support to work through insurance and Federal Emergency Management Agency claims. Behind the scenes, a core team of leaders from Swanton Pacific Ranch and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences continue to work with stakeholders to re-envision the ranch’s strategic intent, honoring Al Smith’s vision as a unique Learn by Doing living and learning laboratory for Cal Poly students, dedicated to providing students, faculty, staff and the community with unparalleled learning and research opportunities for understanding sustainable land management practices. In April, more than 32,000 stakeholders were invited to participate in a survey to help shape that vision. The college also held several open forums and listening sessions with key groups, including faculty and staff, the

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Swanton-area community, and the Swanton Pacific Ranch Railroad Society. Leaders are now sifting through the nearly 700 survey responses received, which will help shape the strategic intent and inform programming decisions. The Siegel & Strain Planning and Design Team has been selected after a rigorous search to lead the built-environment rebuilding process, which will be informed by the strategic intent. “The outpouring of support and commitment from those who have participated directly or indirectly in recovery efforts is astonishing to see,” said Mark Swisher, director of Swanton Pacific Ranch. “It is clear, through my numerous interactions with alumni who have spent time on the ranch in their formative years, that the most important things this ranch is capable of producing are exceptional leaders who value the multiple dimensions of working landscapes.” Looking forward, a $4.2 million Cal Fire grant was recently awarded to provide increased training for the current and future workforce in fire mitigation, addressing the growing impact of fire in California. Grey Hayes, the ranch’s research and education coordinator, and Jeremy James, head of the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department, will lead the effort. In the classroom, students will be taught practical lessons such as designing vegetation management plans to make forests more resilient to fire. Outside of the classroom, a series of workshops, headed by Hayes, will be held throughout California. Students will be involved in that process as well. “Swanton is about the students,” Hayes said. “In every situation that we entertain these conversations of developing community practice, students will be involved. These workshops will allow our students the opportunity to mix with those individuals who will one day be their work peers.”

Top: Cal Poly students with the historical Swanton Pacific Ranch sign. Above: Swanton Pacific Ranch just after the August 2020 fires. Bottom: Recent work has cleared the site where Al Smith's house once stood prior to being destroyed by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.


FEATURE

Robotics on the rise

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Agribusiness Assistant Professor Timothy Delbridge, an agricultural economist, published a timely research paper in the California Agriculture journal on the economics of robotic harvesting in strawberries. Automation projects to enhance labor efficiency is a key research priority for the California strawberry industry, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of all U.S.grown strawberries. Strawberries are one of the state’s top five agriculture commodities, accounting for $2.2 billion in value in 2019. The Cal Poly Strawberry Center and the California Strawberry Commission have partnered to work with faculty and students on projects to advance mechanization and robotics to automate tasks typically done with human labor to help reduce the burden on farmers in a time when competition for agricultural labor is fierce. Delbridge’s focus on the economic feasibility of introducing advanced robotic harvesting equipment comes at a time when robotic harvesting is not yet widespread but anticipated to be used by predominantly larger growers in the next two to three years. “The advanced technology is getting to a point where it is really close to making sense,” said Delbridge, whose research is often focused on farm-level decisions from an economic perspective of when it makes sense to make an investment or change systems based on market conditions. “This research provides those growers a benchmark for the efficiency of the equipment and the wages paid to their labor force.” Delbridge’s assessment confirms that with expected increases in wage rates in the coming years, and with modest

improvements in the technical parameters, use of robotic systems will likely become profitable in some form. Several students assisted with the research, including Jenny Ogden-Tinoco (Agricultural Systems Management, ’20), who now works as a strategic supply manager at Superior Foods, a global distributor of frozen fruits, vegetables and grains based in Watsonville, California. Delbridge said that additional pathways of research were also inspired by the project, including a study done during the summer of 2019 focused on assessing the human harvest efficiency or extraction rate, conducted by Kale Varvel (Agricultural Business, ’20) and agricultural science senior Luis Isiah Valdez, which found that a surprising amount of fruit was being left in the field unharvested. “The Cal Poly Strawberry Center provides an excellent opportunity to work on research in a very applied, impactful setting and at a time when decisions are being made,” said Delbridge. “Additionally, it provides a unique opportunity for students to work with the best industry data and top engineers and companies working across the industry.” The continued partnership of the Cal Poly Strawberry Center and the California Strawberry Commission, through applied research and innovation across all disciplines, works to ensure the future growth and success of the industry. “It is the perfect time to publish this research because robotic harvesting equipment is at the stage of development that is close enough to see some of the variables taking shape, but not so close that it’s all been worked out,” said Gerald Holmes, director of the Cal Poly Strawberry Center. “This paints the way for everyone to grasp how close we are to this being a reality.” CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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Q Q&A

Andrea Zeng

Alumna Andrea Zeng (Food Science, ’14), a senior chocolate technologist at Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., specializes in research and product development. She jokes that most people envision her in a wondrous Willy Wonka like lab, playing in chocolate all day. While the job isn’t quite that glamorous, she has developed several new products that can be found in stores today, including the Ghirardelli White Chocolate Caramel Square, Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Square and Bar, Ghirardelli Intense Dark Blood Orange Bar, and Ghirardelli 72% and 100% cacao baking chips. “It is truly the most rewarding experience to see something that you made by hand on the benchtop become a packaged product on the shelf that someone can purchase,” Zeng said.

What does your role as a senior chocolate technologist entail?  I focus on new product development for three segments of the company: everyday squares and bars, intense dark and baking. I work closely with a cross functional team to launch innovation from ideation through commercialization. Ghirardelli analyzes trends in the market and connects with consumers to understand what new products will be most meaningful to consumers and our business. I then work with procurement and quality to source any new ingredients if needed. From there, I prototype and develop benchtop concepts for the team to evaluate and taste. Once we align on a product, we test with consumers. If products are well received, we’ll move forward with manufacturing trials. If all business hurdles can be met, then the team will work to commercialize and launch the new products. In all, producing a new product can take upwards of two years.

Do you have any favorites? One of my favorite flavors is the Milk Chocolate Fudge Caramel Filled Square, it’s one of the first products I launched at Ghirardelli. Unfortunately, it’ll be discontinued in 2021, but we do have an exciting new product coming soon: our Milk Chocolate Caramel Brownie Filled Square, which will be hitting 8

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store shelves in 2022. After products launch, our team tracks the performance of products in stores. If customers aren’t purchasing them or stores aren’t reordering, it's likely a sign that it’s time for a new product or a packaging refresh.  That's why we have a constant pipeline of innovation and new products underway.

Describe your career trajectory since you graduated from Cal Poly. I had the unique opportunity to start my career, in a sense, at Cal Poly. During my junior year, I took FSN 201: Enterprise Project in which I got to learn about chocolate-making and assist in the production of Cal Poly Chocolates. I joined the production team, and from there, I progressed into managing the sales and product development for the student-made chocolates. These first opportunities really paved the way for me to continue pursuing a career in food product development.

My first role outside of Cal Poly was at Lundberg Family Farms, a grain company focused on organic products located in Chico, California. As a product developer, I worked on creating grain blends, seasonings for side dishes and snacks, rice cakes, rice chips, and other snack products. I then worked at Albertsons in Dublin, California, with their Own Brands business, focused on the meat and seafood division prior to joining the Ghirardelli team as a chocolate technologist four years ago.


Q&A

Few projects can be accomplished by a single person. Learning how to collaborate, delegate, divide responsibilities and work well with a diverse team from different job functions is part of my daily work life."

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Left: Zeng measuring mix-ins for new chocolate products. Right: Zeng tempering on the chocolate bench.

How did Cal Poly help to prepare you for your current role? My food science classes definitely helped prepare me with the fundamentals. Understanding food processing, food safety and quality, and product development were really helpful when starting my career. The additional classes I took for my minor in packaging were also incredibly useful in understanding not just how food products are produced, but also packaged and shipped. Having worked for Cal Poly Chocolates also gave me an advantage since I now work in the chocolate and confectionery space. But I think the biggest takeaway (and I didn’t realize this until after I entered the workforce) is how critically important it is to learn how to work well in a team.

Reflecting on your path, what advice would you give to students currently enrolled in the program? Take those team projects and group labs seriously! As a student, I didn’t really take this to heart but wish I had. Few projects can be accomplished by a single person. Learning how to collaborate, delegate, divide responsibilities and work well with a diverse team from different job functions is part of my daily work life. It's also important to know when you need support from your team and when to step up and take on a new challenge. I’m still building on these skills today and will continue to build on them throughout the rest of my career. CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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STUDENT SUCCESS

DEFINITION OF SUCCESS A team of four Cal Poly agricultural business seniors won first place in the National Grocers Association 2021 Student Case Study Competition for their presentation on how grocers can combat the major economic issues caused by COVID-19 by staying competitive through their “local supply chains” against low-price operators. The Cal Poly team included students Katherine "Scottie" Lester, Joshua Smith, Annika Bertelsen and Amber Eckert. Agribusiness Associate Professor Ricky Volpe advised the team. Five schools, including Cal Poly, competed, delivering presentations and demonstrating how retailers with strong local supply chains were better equipped than their competitors in dealing with issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Eleven members of Cal Poly’s Rodeo Team qualified to compete in the 72nd annual College National Finals Rodeo held June 11-19 in Casper, Wyoming, where one student-athlete came away with a second-place win: Grant Peterson, a second-year agricultural systems management major, placed second in the steer wrestling event. Student-athletes who advanced to the finals are: Grant Peterson and Ethan Usher in steer wrestling; Maggie Usher and Hannah Steagall in goat tying; Karson Mebane and Quintin McWhorter in saddle bronc riding; Cole Tart in bareback riding; Kathryn Varian and Kelsey Cadwell in barrel racing; Jason Andersen in tiedown roping; and Tyree Cochrane in team roping.

More than 30 students presented their research on May 7 at the 2021 CAFES Spring Student Research Symposium, an annual event that allows students to present their research to each other, CAFES faculty and staff, and the broader community. The top three graduate and undergraduate student presentations included fungal disease management in strawberry plants, California land management and soil health in lemon orchards. Those honored include graduate students: first place, Valerie Lavenburg; second place, Mieko Temple; third place, Jack Koster; and undergraduate students: first place, June Murray and Terra Bilhorn; second place, Alexandra Ulans; and third place, Olivia Niederer.

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The Cal Poly Dairy Challenge Team earned first place at the 19th annual Dairy Challenge, held virtually in April. The team, comprised of dairy science seniors Jacob de Jong, Derrick Nunes, Brandon Lemstra, and Brian Martin, was coached by Assistant Professor David Vagnoni, dairy science Lecturer Rich Silacci, and Assistant Professor Julie Huzzey. Students virtually visited a Wisconsin dairy to witness dairy operations and developed recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort, and labor and financial management after a small question-and-answer session with the dairy owners. This year’s contest included 24 universities, whose four-person teams competed for awards based on the quality of their team's farm analysis and appropriate solutions. Their farm presentations were evaluated by a panel of judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, finance specialists and seasoned agribusiness personnel.

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Animal science students observed World Turtle and Tortoise Day on May 24 with a live-streamed webinar to inspire California elementary school children about the importance of turtle and tortoise conservation. The students, who provide daily care and husbandry for the on-campus colony of 17 leopard tortoises, created a lesson introducing young children to the animals, discussed careers supporting wildlife, and shared the hands-on experiences available to all Cal Poly students. This event is part of an ongoing educational outreach effort highlighting topics with California school-aged children. The Animal Science Department’s Reptile Husbandry Enterprise is a one-of-a-kind student opportunity to gain hands-on experience with non-domestic animal husbandry and research. Alumni currently serve in career positions of animal care, management and conservation in zoos, aquariums, and allied industries across the United States.

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PHOTO ESSAY

BEEKEEPING CLASS Cal Poly has had a beekeeping program in some form or another for at least 60 years, but its latest iteration, run by adjunct professors Jeremy Rose and Patrick Frazier, attracts students from all different majors, many of whom start trying to sign up for the class during their first year. Cal Poly was recently recognized as a Bee Campus USA affiliate, which provides a framework for campus communities to work together to conserve native pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants and providing nest sites. Photos by Cal Poly Photographer Joe Johnson

CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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FEATURE

U.S. Patent for new plastics packaging technology

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Emeritus Professor Wyatt Brown in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department helped develop new plastics that increases the shelf life and nutritional quality of perishable food products such as fresh fruits and vegetables — earning a U.S. patent for the new technology.

We found that there was good evidence that controlling what light gets into a packaged product can have a large impact on keeping the food not only greener longer, but more importantly, maintaining its nutritional quality for longer as well."

Brown worked with colleague Keith Vorst, director of the Polymer and Food Protection Consortium at Iowa State University, over the last two years to help develop a new method of food packaging that reduces the breakdown of essential nutrients in foods such as pre-cut broccoli florets and pre-packaged leafy greens and results in a greater shelf-life for these products. Several students assisted in the process alongside Brown in his lab. “Dr. Vorst and I came up with the idea based on what we had observed in my lab,” said Brown, whose research centers on the postharvest interactions of pre-cut fruits and vegetables with plastics and food packaging. “We did some additional testing looking at the chlorophyl breakdown of particular vegetables and then dug into the scientific literature to determine what was already known and what evidence existed for what we were observing.” Vorst worked at Cal Poly for 10 years in the Industrial Technology Department before joining Iowa State. He worked collaboratively with Brown on a number of research projects involving food, packaging, plastics biodegradability, plastics contamination and novel plastics. “We found that there was good evidence that controlling what light gets into a packaged product can have a large impact on keeping the food not only greener longer, but more importantly, maintaining its nutritional quality for longer as well,” Brown said.

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A student works in the lab under Brown's guidance.

U.S. patents are held by current or former professors of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Vorst and his team at Iowa State formulated different mixtures of plastics with or without additives and tested these novel plastics by using them to produce packaging such as the clamshells, trays and films used when marketing fruits and vegetables. By using state-of-the-art technology, Vorst’s team was able to precisely vary the composition of the plastics, allowing them to be tailored to specific commodities. “Working with Brown enabled us to identify novel packaging materials that would benefit from Brown’s initial evaluation of leafy greens,” said Vorst. “The collaboration allowed for a holistic approach to improving packaged food quality.” Both Brown and Vorst are named on the patent, which was filed in 2017 and approved four years later in March 2021. Greg Curtzwiler, assistant professor at Iowa State, and Cal Poly Professor Jeffrey Danes, who passed away in 2017, are also named.

Wyatt Brown, emeritus professor in the Cal Poly Horticulture and Crop Science Department.

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“While it is a wonderful feeling to know that my research is making an impact on the industry, I look forward to the additional opportunities that exist for future graduate students to build upon it,” Brown said. For more information on this technology or to explore a license, please reach out to Jim Dunning, AVP, Corporate Engagement and Innovation at techtransfer@calpoly.edu.


SUPPORT THE

EARN BY DOING IN T E RN S H IP P R OG RAM

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Earn by Doing Internship Program is an opportunity for students to gain paid work experience at one or more of the college’s on-campus food and agricultural production units and departments. Student positions in the Earn by Doing Internship Program provide essential services to the college, ensuring that daily maintenance and operations of food and agricultural lands and facilities are well managed. The program allows students to work part time, up to 20 hours per week, gaining technical skills in positions directly related to their chosen careers. Students have historically been paid, but only when budgets permit, and many units are currently understaffed.

$800K

annual cost to fund essential student internships across the college

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT INTERNSHIPS • IRRIGATION ASSISTANT, Crops Unit • STUDENT MECHANIC, Ag Operations • PRODUCTION ASSISTANT, Food Pilot Plant • STUDENT HERDSPERSON, Beef Unit • MILKING SUPERVISOR, Dairy Unit

CONTACT US

• VITICULTURE INTERN, Vineyard

RUS S KABAKER

TIM NORTHROP

Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Relations 805-756-6601 rkabaker@calpoly.edu

Senior Director of Development 805-756-2166 tnorthro@calpoly.edu CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

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