Western Growers completed its seventh Careers in Ag tour last week, exposing nearly 30 students from UC Davis, Cal Poly Pomona and University of Arizona to the multitude of career possibilities in agriculture. The Careers in Ag Program aims to encourage students who are in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs to pursue a profession within the agricultural industry.
Taking place during the universities’ winter breaks, the students embarked on a three-day journey on December 17 touring agricultural operations throughout Yuma, Arizona, and the Coachella and Imperial Valleys in California. Tours included numerous Western Growers members and partners including Peter Rabbit Farms, Richard Bagdasarian, Inc., Head Start Nursery, Tanimura & Antle, Pasquinelli Produce Co., GreenGate Fresh, Yuma Agricultural Center – University of Arizona, Gowan Company and Vessey & Company.
Throughout the tours, students met with leaders in the industry, hearing firsthand about issues faced in the field such as labor challenges tied to California’s minimum wage (SB 3) and agricultural overtime (AB 1066) laws, as well as food safety concerns with a focus on the recent E.coli outbreaks. The young scholars also had the opportunity to learn about the growing and harvesting practices for numerous commodities—including citrus, tables and wine grapes, carrots, watermelon, fennel and leafy greens— and participated in demonstrations to see how technology is playing a role in making farming more efficient.
“My sons aren’t going to farm the way I am right now,” said Steve Powell, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Peter Rabbit Farms. “They are going to do everything on their phones. Technology is making the way we farm more efficient, and I’m excited about everything that’s coming out.”
Photos from this Careers in Ag tour can be found here on Western Growers Facebook page.
The Careers in Ag Program launched in June 2016 with a cohort of 16 students. Today, the program has educated 165 students. If any member companies are interested in hosting a tour or have internship/career opportunities for STEM students, please contact Stephanie Metzinger at (949) 885-2256.