- Author: Stacey AMPARANO
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.