The University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (UC DREC) Farm Smart program recently hosted the 2nd annual USDA Food & AgScience Summer Program in June 2018. In collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 4 high school students were selected to participate in the 40-hour, 2-week experiential learning program. This program was designed to help students explore careers in food, agriculture, and sustainability. The selected students had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of agriculture through hands-on activities with local industry partners. While this was the 4th year that Farm Smart program has hosted high school students to explore careers in agriculture, this is the 2nd year that USDA has provided support for supplies and stipends for the participants.
Students began the program with an introduction to research conducted at UC DREC and a tour of the university feedlot with UC Cooperative Extension Livestock Advisor, Brooke Latack.
Over the next 2 weeks, the participants visited local agriculture industry businesses and partners to explore Imperial Valley agriculture. Visits were made to LIDCO, Inc, Farm Credit Services Southwest, SWIIM Systems, El Toro Export, El Toro Land & Cattle, and Spreckels Sugar. The students also visited the USDA Service Center: Farm Service Agency and Rural Development, the Agricultural Commissioner office in Imperial County, and the University of Arizona campus and research field station in Yuma, AZ.
The students surveyed field for subsurface tile line drainage systems with LIDCO, explored loan opportunities with USDA and Farm Credit Services Southwest, discussed tariff regulations with El Toro Export, and worked in the field and lab to test water and soil salinity with DREC Director, Dr. Jairo Diaz.
After the 2 weeks of site visits, the students began preparing a 3-5 minute video reflection of their experiences. The program concluded with a luncheon where the videos were showcased to their parents, ag teachers, and agriculture industry partners.
We would like to give a special thank you to USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program Region Director for Southern California and AZ Roberto Gonzalez for funding the program!
Applications for the 2019 Food & AgScience Summer Program will be available in May 2019. If you, or someone you know, is interested in participating in future summer programs, please contact Stacey Amparano at email@example.com for more information.
The Imperial Valley's beautiful winters have long attracted winter visitors to the area, and most come very curious about what's growing throughout this region. Since 2001, the UC Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC) has showcased Imperial County agriculture and the research conducted at DREC through their winter tours.
Farm Smart has seen over 139,000 visitors since it began. These participants come through our K-12 field trips to the farm and the winter tours. This year's tours began Monday, January 29, and run through February 23. Visitors to this year's tours will be treated to a program designed to educate the public about Imperial Valley and Yuma agriculture, water delivery and irrigation, and natural resources issues. In addition to our regular winter tours, Farm Smart will feature specialty tours this year. Sunrise on the Farm will be a breakfast tour taking place on February 7th and 22nd and Dinner on the Farm will be a date night themed tour with date appetizers and a tri-tip dinner taking place on February 14th. While many tour guests are winter visitors staying in the Imperial Valley, Yuma, and Indio the tours are open to the public at large and we encourage anyone wanting to learn more about valley agriculture to attend.
The tour will feature a recipe using local products. Stephanie Collins, Farm Smart Community Educator, will demonstrate a delicious raw cauliflower tabbouleh to highlight the valley's cauliflower production. After the tour of the 255-acre research farm, the wagons will stop at the 3-acre Farm Smart produce garden for harvesting. This year's visitors receive a large bag to harvest carrots, turnips, beets, daikon radishes, red radishes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, spinach, iceberg lettuce, swiss chard and more. Seed for the crops was donated by Golden Valley Seed, and transplants were donated by Keithly-Williams.
Visitors end the tour with honey tasting of local honey and door prizes donated from local organizations, including Farm Credit Services Southwest, Jordan Implements, RDO, Glenna Sparks of Agriculture More Than Ever, El Centro Chamber of Commerce, Desert Trails RV, and more. The staff at Farm Smart is grateful for the generous community support it receives, including donation from Imperial Irrigation District, Farm Credit Services Southwest, and Imperial County Farm Bureau. Thank you to all the wonderful Farm Smart volunteers, who donated over 2,000 hours of time in 2017!
The UC Desert Research and Extension Center is a great resource for the Imperial Valley and the UC FARM SMART program welcomes winter visitors and the public. Regular tours are $25 per person, Sunrise on the Farm in $35, and Dinner on the Farm is $45/person or $75/couple.
Stacey Wills Amparano is the Farm Smart Manager at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center. She can be reached at 760-356-3067. Tours can be booked by phone/text at (760)791-0261 or online at http://drec.ucanr.edu
Community Education Specialist (CES) from across the state of California came together on January 24-25, 2018 at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville, CA. There are 9 Research and Extension Centers (REC) throughout the state, all under the University of California division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. These annual meetings have been an opportunity to strengthen the CES network within the RECs and surrounding county programs and broaden our platform in which we bring extension activities to our individual RECs; creating awareness and providing education to youth and adults. In addition to sharing our personal experience and ideas, we strive to bring in guest speakers to enhance the experience.
This years' meeting featured topics such as:
- Developing a funding strategy
- Maximizing funding success
- Connecting with our community
- Reaching underserved communities
This successful CES workshop was made possible through funding from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR), UCANR Contracts and Grants staff, UCANR Development Services staff, UCCE Riverside 4-H Advisor, Claudia Diaz, and the wonderful community panel comprised of the friends of Farm Smart, including USDA Resource Center director Rosa Singh, IV Food Bank Nutrition Education Program Manager Mireya Diaz, UC CalFresh Program Manager Paul Tabarez, McCabe School teacher Bonnie Jones, Girl Scouts volunteer Kay Hodges, and USDA internship participant Malei Tipton.
- Author: Stacey Wills
Resources and Lesson Plans and Farm Tours…OH MY!
FARM SMART had the opportunity to participate in the 2017 California Ag in the Classroom conference in Visalia, CA in July. This was a wonderful opportunity for FARM SMART to share resources and ideas with California educators, as well as gain new ideas and resources to incorporate into FARM SMART programming. Over 200 educators from across California learned about the importance of educating our youth about food and fiber through all subject areas. Agriculture is everywhere and in everything we do! Activities included farm tours, workshops, a farmer panel, hands on activities and free resources centered around agriculture and education.
This conference is open to all educators interested in learning and sharing their knowledge of incorporating agriculture in the classroom. Grants to cover the conference are available to teachers at: https://learnaboutag.org/grants/index.cfm
To learn more about the CA Ag in the Classroom conference and get free lesson plans, visit: https://www.learnaboutag.org
IN THE NEWS:
Coverage BY abc30 news ON THE EVENT:
You can also hear California Ag Today Radio discussing this wonderful conference:
- Author: Stephanie Collins
- Author: Stacey Wills
- Author: Jairo Diaz
UCDREC/FARM SMART collaborated with the United States Department of Agriculture - USDA to host the 2017 USDA Food and AgScience Summer Program. Out of 22 applications, 4 high school students were selected to participate in the 40-hour program. This was the third year FARM SMART has hosted the program designed to address the need to increase the number of experiential learning opportunities for students hoping to engage in agriculture and enter into agriculture related careers.
Students had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of agriculture beyond the classroom through hands-on, real world experiences within the field of agriculture. The mission of the internship program is to build an experience that fosters an awareness of agriculture related careers, broadens the student experience within the agriculture industry, determines their level of interest in ag related careers, as well as serving as a platform for making key contacts in the local agriculture community.
Students began the program with “A Day in the Life of DREC!” Students were in the field and the labs of DREC with plant, soil, water and weed advisors.
Over the next 2 weeks there were daily field trips to discover all about Imperial Valley agriculture. Visits were made to 14 agriculture businesses from bees, cattle, dates, seed, ag finance, hay pressing, organics and more!
The students also visited the USDA Service Center, the Imperial Irrigation System and the Ag Commissioner office in Imperial County, and the Arizona Western College and the University of Arizona in Yuma, AZ.
The program concluded with a luncheon where student created videos were presented about their intern experience. Click here to see student videos:
A special thank you to the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program for funding the program!