Interning for the Superbowl of Livestock Shows

As an agricultural communication student currently in the middle of my fourth and final year of college, I have been blessed with many opportunities. Several great experiences came from being an intern throughout my time at Cal Poly. Fortunate to kick 2016 off with the chance to work as a media intern, I headed to the National Western Stock Show Livestock Office.  As a girl who grew up showing cattle, interning for the National Western was a dream come true.

The National Western Stock Show is one of the world’s largest cattle shows and often called the ‘Superbowl of Livestock Shows’. The livestock shows make just one part of this event spanning 16 days in January; and it’s the largest part with hosting almost 20 different cattle breeds and many livestock species.

As a livestock media intern, I attended the livestock shows and events, wrote a human interest story and press releases, managed the National Western Stock Show Livestock social media channels and captured photos around the grounds and in the show rings. Having the opportunity to be shooting pictures in the ring next to the best photographers in the show industry is something I will never forget.

I took many lessons and skills away from this internship I know will help me as I continue my agricultural communicator path.

As I move closer to graduating from Cal Poly this June, people keep telling me, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” After working six days as an intern, I now know this to be true. This internship gave me an insight into a future career path I could see myself loving everyday, and to me that is just one of the reasons internships are so valuable. Thank you to the National Western Livestock Office and Sunglo for making this program happen, and helping students like me live out their passions.

To hear more about my experience in Denver and what I learned, check out a radio interview I did with Kaydee Gilkey, for the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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A Wonderful Tour

Halos Tour

Last November, Cal Poly’s Agricultural Business Management (ABM)/National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA) Club took tours at two facilities owned by the Wonderful Company: Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds in Lost Hills and Wonderful Citrus in Delano.

ABM/NAMA President Haley Seeger said the tour of the two facilities “gave our students the opportunity to see how large scale operations are operated and learn more about two of California’s most important commodities.”

The Lost Hills processing plant is the main facility for Wonderful’s almond and pistachio operation, boasting over 131,000 square feet of almond and pistachio processing facilities and cold storage. The plant is currently undergoing a five-year, $300 million capital expenditure program that will continue to modernize the capabilities of the facility.

The plant is an impressive feat of food processing engineering, as everything has to run smoothly in order to meet the demands of its customers and achieve the quality standards Wonderful sets for itself. Each year, the company delivers approximately 450 million pounds of nuts and is the largest grower and processor of almonds and pistachios that are marketed and processed under one entity.

After the tour, ABM/NAMA took a short bus ride to Delano to tour the Wonderful Halos plant. The tour was given by a former Brock Center Associate, Amanda Meneses.

The Wonderful Halos packinghouse measures 640,000 square feet, the equivalent of 11 football fields. During peak season (November to May), the plant is running 20 hours per day, six days a week, processing over 4,000 bins of California mandarins per day. This IMG_2487includes its custom made presort line, which is 310 feet long with over five miles of chain, making it the longest electronic grader and sizer in the world.

The packinghouse is divided into three sections, the aforementioned sorter section, packaging and storage. The process is at breakneck speed due to the nature of mandarin shelf life.

Every Wonderful facility is equipped to serve its employees as well. Both facilities have an on-site gym and wellness center, where employees are encouraged to take time during their workday to get checked by a doctor in order to ensure employee health.

For more information on Cal Poly ABM/NAMA, visit their website at: http://agb.calpoly.edu/content/current/abm_nama.

For more information on the Wonderful Company, visit their website at: http://www.wonderful.com/

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Cal Poly’s Future of Agriculture Travel To Kansas City

Cal Poly Agribusiness Management student Christine Curtis has expanded her hands-on experiences to include Agriculture Future of America. Read below to learn more about her travels with a number of students to an action-packed conference in Kansas City, MO, as well as how she is growing AFA on the Cal Poly campus. 

 

 

By Christine Curtis 

Last November, 14 students represented the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Agriculture Future of America’s (AFA) Annual Leaders’ Conference in Kansas City, MO. These students applied and were selected to be an AFA sponsored delegate after showing that they are leaders on campus and share a fierce passion for agriculture. AFA is a non-profit organization whose vision is to create partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women pursuing careers in agriculture. At this year’s conference, AFA’s anchor event, there were 630 students in attendance which represented student involvement from 43 different states and over 200 universities. These students participated in a four-track program based on their year in school that covered everything from personal and industry development, communication, influencing change, and lifelong learning. They heard from many motivational speakers and got countless opportunities to interact with industry professionals. At Leaders’ Conference, there is roughly a 3:1 ratio of industry professionals to students giving participants a unique opportunity to network with future employers in a personal atmosphere.

 

As a Campus Ambassador, I have gotten the privilege to motivate Cal Poly to get involved with this amazing organization. AFA has shaped me into a bold and confident leader as I grow into my professional career. But I can say wholeheartedly that I have never been involved in such a caring organization that wants to aid motivated students in becoming huge influencers of the future of agriculture. After attending Leaders’ Conference and seeing the compassionate atmosphere and the all-star students involved, the level of passion in the agriculture industry rose and radiated all the way back to our campus. This gives me hope and excitement for the direction of the future of agriculture. With all the interactions with leaders of the industry and other students from all around the nation, we develop a huge network of endless contacts. AFA is an outlet where students can grow professionally and personally into amazing influencers in the agriculture industry. My hope is that California as a state gets more involved in this organization and that more Cal Poly students make a national impact on the industry because of their training and involvement in AFA.

 

If you are interested in joining or learning more about AFA on campus, please reach out to chcurtis@calpoly.edu.

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Cal Poly’s J&G Lau Meat Processing Center Success

Reblogged from the California State University blog: http://blogs.calstate.edu/csusuccess/2015/12/07/new-facility-embodies-learn-by-doing-philosophy/

“State of the Art Hands on Learning”

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Students at Cal Poly’s J&G Lau Meat Processing Center Learn by Doing. (Photo credit: CSU, 2016)

From humane harvesting to ready-to-eat production development, food safety and packaging, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students get a comprehensive overview of meat processing in the innovative J and G Lau Family Meat Processing Center. At the forefront of meat production education, the center embraces Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy, providing quality, hands-on experiences in an environment that mirrors the industry students will enter upon graduation.

The facility houses a harvest floor for beef, veal, lamb, pork and goat; a designated area for harvesting chicken and turkey; a space for meat fabrication and processing; a one-truck food processing oven; a ready-to-eat packaging area and ready-to-eat coolers; an area for food-safety testing; and a multi-purpose room for short courses and outreach work. Students are introduced to industry professionals from across the nation as meat science companies utilize the facility for product development, safety testing and marketing. The environment encourages immersion and opportunity in the real world, promoting student success beyond the university.

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Finals week hacks

As the cheer of holiday spirit spreads through campus, so does the looming stress of finals week. For many, these five days of cumulative tests, final projects and group presentations have the potential to make or break our grades. Here are a few quick tips to make finals week a little more than bearable.

1. Location, location, location

Choose your study space wisely! While it may be easy to stay tucked in bed, studying in the dark corner of your room, choose a place with as much natural light as possible. Daylight has the potential to improve eyesight, health, and happiness, so take advantage of a bright study space.

2. Break it up

When it comes to the final few days of jam-packed studying, taking quick study breaks becomes more necessary than ever. According to the MIT Center for Academic Excellence, studying in 50 minute increments with 10 minute study breaks has proven to be most productive. Make sure to get up and move during each quick break, whether that’s simply stretching or doing a quick lap around the library.

3. Healthy is happy

The more stressed we get, the easier it can be to eat junk food and avoid the gym. However, peak stress weeks are the times when you will benefit most from taking care of yourself. In this New York Times article, differing studies are recapped suggesting how to maximize the time and intensity of your workouts to make the most of your memory. However, don’t think you have to hit an hour of extreme Cross Fit to get the benefits of endorphins. Even a quick walk outside can help reenergize your focus. Also, eating the right foods is key. Focus on protein packed foods like fish, eggs and peanut butter (but maybe not all together).

4. Zzzzz

Use time between exams wisely! While getting 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal each night, keeping your evenings “low-key” is important too. Going out can be tempting, especially as others finish their exams and are looking to celebrate. Take this time to study with friends, or stay in to watch movies, cook, or play games. Even if the time isn’t spent studying, your body and mind will thank you for keeping your evening hours calm.

5. Blast some tunes (or some light background music) 

Music can both increase your mood, and if played without lyrics, it can improve your brain’s ability to function. Non-lyrical music activates the right side of your brain, while the left side can focus on processing writing. Spotify, Pandora, and 8tracks have numerous playlists ready for your finals week study sessions!

 

Keep these tips in mind and don’t just survive finals week, thrive! May the points be ever in your favor.

 

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Thanksgiving Dinner: California Edition

By Lauren Haas

 

The New York Times recently asked Google to find out how each state celebrates Thanksgiving – or rather, what food we like to overfill our bellies with.  Google found the most popular, distinct recipes searched during the Thanksgiving season, and the one that stood out for California may surprise you: persimmon bread.

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Persimmons are a yellow-orange or red-orange fruit originating from China that has a very sweet, delicate flavor when intended for eating fresh and raw. However, baking persimmons, which produce deliciously sweet pastries and breads, has the power to suck all of the moisture out of your mouth with one bite.

 

And why is this?  If you’re not from California, you might not have even heard of a persimmon before, so why are they so popular? Well, it has to do with California’s obsession with eating locally and seasonally grown produce.  This is evident recently from the explosion of farmers’ markets and farm-to-table restaurants.  Fruits and vegetables naturally taste better when they are perfectly ripe.  It is ultimately a cheaper option and is better for small farmers and the local community to purchase locally grown food.  Most domestic commercial harvesting of persimmons is centered in California, mainly in Fresno, Tulare, and San Diego counties.

 

For the same reasons, sweet potatoes and yams came in a close second for this fall season. This is the time of their biggest harvests and they are primarily grown in Sacramento Valley, particularly Merced County.  Because these crops originate from tropical regions, they can only thrive in the warmest parts of California.  They are usually baked, roasted, or mashed, to go together perfectly with your turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving!

 

If you are not yet among the brave souls who have branched out to the world of persimmons, this week is your chance. Californians are lucky to have over 400 commodities grown right in our backyard.  It’s only natural that we want to have the freshest, in-season foods on our Thanksgiving table.  That’s something to be thankful for!

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Agroecology: People and planet-based production

Have you heard the latest agricultural buzzword? Agroecology, an approach to agricultural production with a planet and people-conscious mindset, is a term working to promote a fair and sustainable food system.

Check out this article from the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy to see what agroecology is all about.

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