- Author: Mariana Gonzalez
On October 4th, 2019, I flew from the San Diego airport to attend the 33rd Annual Conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, or HACU, as part of the Student Track's Adelante Institute in Chicago Illinois. The conference took place from October 5th to October 7th with about 600 Hispanic college students in attendance. About 230 of these students were sponsored by HACU, higher education institutions, corporations, or federal partners. I was the sole representative of my college, San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus, sponsored by USDA.
Each day, the conference hosted various workshops with a focus on leadership development. Representatives from government agencies and service companies conducted the workshops. I gained valuable insight on my leadership skills and received information on how to further improve these skills. Not only did HACU emphasized the importance of developing leadership skills but they also promoted Hispanic diversity in the workplace. They served as a bridge to connect public organizations, agencies, and universities to me. Agencies in attendance sought to increase diversity in their organization and were looking for Hispanic students as potential applicants for their internship programs. Throughout the three-day event, there were many networking opportunities. There was a Networking Exhibition Hall where all organizations in attendance had a designated booth to promote their organization and recruit students into their agencies and programs. Each day, I spoke to different representatives, exchange contact information, and gave copies of my resume to the representatives. I have learned of many career options and am currently applying to these opportunities.
Another impactful aspect of this conference were the people in attendance. I met so many students from different colleges, states, and countries. Attending the conference in Chicago made me witness firsthand just how diverse is the Hispanic community. Most of the population in the Imperial Valley is comprised of Mexican heritage. The Imperial Valley is surrounded by Mexican culture. All I knew about the Hispanic culture was Mexican traditions and customs. I learned more about other Hispanic cultures directly from HACU students who were Puerto Rican, Cuban, Ecuadorian, and Spanish, just to name a few. HACU celebrated our stories and everyone's heritage. It took leaving my hometown, my comfort zone, and a visit to Chicago, a place with multiple cultures, for me see the diversity of Hispanic community.
All the students I met had their own set of obstacles with a strong determination and passion to pursue a higher education. I met fellow USDA Sponsored Scholars and spent time getting to know them. We shared our stories and personal experiences. Most of these students were experiencing their visit to Chicago, like me. Speaking with students with similar backgrounds has encouraged me to not only tell my story, but to be proud of that story. I am proud of my upbringing, my heritage, and my culture. I am proud to be a first-generation college student and to be a Hispanic female in a STEM field. I am proud of the leadership skills I have acquired through USDA. I had my own set of struggles that I overcame. HACU helped me realize that I should proudly tell my story as I am doing so now.
It has been a month since I attended this conference. Needless to say, I have had enough time to process this experience. I can say with absolute certainty that the emotions ignited by this experience still burn passionately within me. I could not have had this experience if it weren't for the USDA sponsorship. My internship with USDA allowed me to gain opportunities outside of the internship. I cannot emphasize how impactful USDA internships are, especially in the Imperial Valley. Being a low-income, first generation student, I found it difficult to see if there were opportunities for me. I thought there were not many options for me and that I had no choice but to leave the Imperial Valley to seek out opportunities. However, ever since I met USDA, I have found so many career opportunities and have learned so much from my experience with USDA internships. I have grown from these experiences and gained skills with constant development and improvement. I could not have had this self-reflecting, eye-opening, amazing experience if it weren't for my USDA internship providing me with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For that, I am eternally grateful.
- Author: Jairo Diaz
There are several Hispanics/Latinx working at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources – UC ANR that provide services to communities statewide. As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month between September 15 and October 15, the UC ANR highlighted the contributions and careers of four Hispanic/Latinx members. One of the members profiled this year is our Center Director, Jairo Diaz. Jairo joined ANR Desert Research and Extension Center in October 2015 after working for over 8 years in the two Land Grant Universities in Mississippi (Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University). Here you can find the videos of each ANR Hispanic members profiled this year:
En la Universidad de California División de Agricultura y Recursos Naturales (UC ANR por sus siglas en Ingles) tiene personal Hispano/Latino que proveen servicios a las comunidades en California. Cada año entre Septiembre 15 y Octubre 15 se celebra el mes de la Herencia Hispania, este año la UC ANR resalto las contribuciones y carreras de cuatro de sus profesionales Hispanos(as)/Latinos(as). Uno de esos empleados es nuestro Director de Centro, Jairo Diaz. Jairo ha estado trabajando con nosotros desde Octubre del 2015 después de haber trabajado por mas de 8 años en dos universidades estatales del estado de Misisipi: Mississippi State University y Alcorn State University. Acá pueden ver el video de Jairo Diaz: https://youtu.be/H07jU7hSs-s
- Author: Mariana Gonzalez Castro
On April 1st, I started my internship with the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (UC DREC) and the Farm Smart program. When I began this internship, my only experience was working with high school and college students. I wanted to gain experience working with elementary students and creating lesson plans for K-12 schools. When I was notified that the 4-H program's annual Sustainable You summer camp wanted to collaborate with Farm Smart, I immediately offered to help and work with the 4-H program and its youth. I worked closely with faculty from the 4-H program, UC Cooperative Extension Office, and high school students in preparing for the camp's events. My role in this camp was to guide high school students in becoming camp counselors, preparing their lessons, and providing any supplies that they might need for the event.
The camp was divided into five topics, one topic per day. The topics were water, food, land, energy, and air. Each day highlighted the basic concept as well as major environmental issues, shown through group activities
- Author: Jairo Diaz
The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources News and Outreach in Spanish developed videos in English and Spanish of our Farm-to-Preschool Festival.
Video in English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtkyotwJ08U&t=7s
Video in Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzRlUeyKXdA
The Festival was held on Saturday January 26, 2019 at the Desert Research and Extension Center. The Festival was funded by First Five Imperial and hosted over 700 participants consisting of families with children 0-5 years of age. There were also over 100 Festival volunteers. The day consisted of hands-on activities related to food and nutrition for young children, physical activity, art and crafts related to food, literacy activities, food tasting, cooking demonstrations and an amazing u-pick produce garden. There were 15 community agencies that attended the Festival as resource tables.
Festival comments and evaluation showed that participants will definitely attend another Festival and consider the event a meaningful educational family event. Some of the participants comments included:
"Taught my child about things that interest her."
"Very interesting and kept his attention."
"Really engaged and held my children's attention."
"Hands on activities were fun for the kids."
"Hands on and tasting."
"Interactive and harvesting is fun for little ones and resources for family."
"Everyone was friendly and very informative."
"Never picked fresh vegetables before."
"Se divertieron mucho."
"All stations gave us knowledge and staff were awesome, helpful, and friendly."
"Interactive, can use at home."
"Baby loved puzzles from yoga, veggies are fun to pick."
"Mostraron como cultivar las verduras."
"Fun physical activities for the kids, quality time, reading, and loved the vegetables."
"Mi hijo se divertio y presto mucha atencion."
"Awesome event! Should do more often."
"Keep up the good work."
"Everything was awesome."
"We had so much fun, please do again."
- Author: Brooke Latack
Participants representing Imperial County cattle feedlots came together on April 22nd to discuss food safety at the Livestock Food Safety Workshop held at UC DREC. Organized by UCANR advisors and specialists, invited speakers presented current management practices and research related to food safety with respect to livestock and wildlife. Topics covering packing plant food safety, mitigation of pathogen shedding at the feedlot, and past food safety research initiated a productive discussion amongst participants and speakers to identify key areas of concern and potential for future research. The successful workshop set groundwork for future discussions related to this critical issue.
For further information, please contact:
University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)
Livestock Advisor (Imperial, Riverside & San Bernardino Counties)
1050 E Holton Rd
Holtville, CA 92250
Office: (442) 265-7712