College Dean Speaks out to Keep Cattle Industry Viable

This is a reblog of a great article from the Capital Press written by Tim Hearden. 

David Daley, a rancher and interim dean at the California State University-Chico College of Agriculture, says he’s “still a student” who’s learning about various issues affecting the cattle industry. But he’s been a teacher, too, speaking out on thorny issues such as animal welfare and antibiotics. 

Tim Hearden/Capital Press David Daley, a rancher and interim dean of the California State University-Chico College of Agriculture, has been a leading voice on many issues facing the livestock industry in recent years.

CHICO, Calif. — Where David Daley is concerned, the student is the teacher.

A cattle producer and interim dean of the College of Agriculture at California State University-Chico, Daley considers himself “still a student” as he works to preserve the long-term viability of the ranching industry.

He’s learned about the public image of animal agriculture from urban students who didn’t grow up around farms, and he’s become nationally known for speaking out on several high-profile issues that can be touchy subjects for ranchers, such as animal welfare and the use of antibiotics in livestock.

“I deal a lot with urban students, and seeing that disconnect gave me the chance to step into that kind of role” of fostering a better understanding about the livestock industry, said Daley, who is also first vice president of the California Cattlemen’s Association. “I also try to understand people who have different viewpoints.”

A 25-year instructor and researcher at Chico State, Daley returned to the campus in 1990 after having been an undergraduate student here in the late 1970s. He began in the beef cattle program, drawing on his family’s history of ranching in Butte County since the 1850s.

Daley runs several hundred mother cows in the rolling hills near Oroville, Calif., and on U.S. Forest Service land in Plumas County. His children are involved in the operation as sixth-generation ranchers, he said.

Some of Daley’s early research helped lay the groundwork for animal traceability, as he worked with Harris Ranch to use DNA to identify and track animals to see how different sires performed in various range conditions, he said.

“I think some of the things we did were forerunners to the discussions we’re having now,” he said. “Certainly I don’t think we solved anything, but we had some good exploration and dialogue and increased some understanding in some of these areas.”

Lately, Daley has gained national attention for his role in educating the public — and the industry — about several thorny issues. In 2012, his vocal rebuke of animal abuse caught on an undercover video at a Central California slaughterhouse raised some eyebrows in the meatpacking industry.

Federal regulators temporarily shuttered the Central Valley Meat Co., in Hanford, Calif., after a video released by Washington, D.C.-based Compassion Over Killing, an animal welfare group, showed cows that appeared to be sick or lame being beaten, kicked, shot and shocked in an attempt to get them to walk to slaughter.

Speaking on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Daley said most cattlemen adhere to best-animal-care guidelines and that industry leaders “firmly believe that those knowingly and willingly committing any abuse to animals should not be in the business — period.”

What upset some in the meatpacking industry, he said, was that he made no complaints about the propriety of the undercover video itself. But he said he realized he had a short window of opportunity to get an industry message across to non-agricultural media and consumers, and he didn’t want to say anything that appeared to defend the slaughterhouse.

Since then, farm groups in Washington state and elsewhere have given generally cool receptions to proposed “ag-gag” bills that would bar undercover taping at agricultural operations and criminalize harming an operation’s image. One such law that passed in Idaho is being challenged in federal court.

On the issue of antibiotics, Daley has said the onus is on livestock producers to show the public they’re concerned about the issue and that they know what they’re doing when dispensing the drugs to their animals.

“What I’m really interested in is our long-term viability as cattle producers,” he said.

Today Daley often meets with consumer groups and speaks to the public about the livestock industry. “It’s more about pulling together the pieces and working with diverse groups (to educate them) about what we do,” he said.

He also keeps studying the issues. One day recently he attended a rangeland water quality summit at the University of California-Davis, gaining more knowledge about an issue that “has huge impacts on our business,” he said.

“I consider myself still a student,” he said. “I’m still learning how to resolve a lot of these issues.”

Daley said he enjoys his dual role as university dean and CCA officer, noting that it gives him plenty of exposure to both the private sector and academia. “It’s a nice combination,” he said.

“My problem is I’m interested in everything,” he said. “It’s probably fair to call me a jack of all trades and a master of none, but as a producer I think that’s important. … You really need to have an understanding of how it all fits together.”

David Daley

Age: 57

Occupation: Cattle producer and interim dean, California State University-Chico College of Agriculture

Residence: Oroville, Calif.

Organizations: First vice president, California Cattlemen’s Association


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Cal Poly U-Pick Program

Written by: Caitlin Paulus 

The last time I went grocery shopping my heart sunk as I patiently waited for the cashier to ring up my items. Spinach $4, eggs $5, avocados $6, apples $5, chicken $10, oranges $6 — as my bill reached $50 I was hesitant to purchase what was left in my cart. There has to be a better way to do this, I thought to myself, as I swallowed my pride and spent $70 on enough food to only get me through the week. Luckily, the hard working students and faculty in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department have created a solution to the grocery store prices haunting many of us today. The Cal Poly U-Pick program gives students and community members alike the opportunity to pick fresh produce year round for discounted prices. Not only does the produce grown on campus rival what you could find in any grocery store, by purchasing it you can help support fellow Mustangs and Cal Poly agriculture as a whole.


Cal Poly students working at the U-Pick stand.

The U-Pick farm stand is located at the Crops Unit off of Highland Drive, and is open for business on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This unique experience allows for anyone who wishes to get outdoors to become truly involved in the farm-to-table lifestyle. The current varieties of fruits and vegetables available for purchase are strawberries, Eureka lemons, blood oranges, Susan avocados, and hydroponically grown tomatoes. This week’s featured item is Navel Oranges, which are currently available for only $1 per pound. If you are looking for more opportunities to buy fresh produce while saving money, Cal Poly’s products can also be purchased on Thursdays at the downtown Farmers’ Market from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays at the Madonna Farmers’ Market from 8 10:30 a.m. These two off-campus locations also offer organic produce, grown on Cal Poly’s 11-acre certified organic farm.


Professors taking advantage of Cal Poly’s U-Pick program.

For more up-to-date produce information, you can call the U-Pick hotline at (805) 756-6778, or visit the Horticulture and Crop Science Department’s Facebook page herePhotos courtesy of the Horticulture and Crop Science Department’s Facebook page.

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Cal Poly Students Master the Art of Discussion

Twenty minutes, four competitors, one question. In a single round of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet contest, competitors strive to display their agricultural knowledge and commitment to improving the industry.

In order to be successful one must perform a balancing act by presenting original and fact-based thoughts while helping to facilitate discussion in a cordial manner.

Over the past several days at the 2015 Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, competitors from across California have aimed to do just this.


With four rounds in total, the topics of discussion ranged from strategies to expand and improve the American Farm Bureau Federation, to ways to determine liability in the case of food borne illness, to the pros and cons of government vs. private land ownership.

The competition took place this past weekend in Sacramento, Calif. It was conducted through a tournament structure with two preliminary rounds, narrowed down to the elite eight competitors, and eventually the final four. Student competitors came from three agriculture based colleges: Cal Poly, SLO; Fresno State University; Modesto Junior College.


Cal Poly was well represented by four individuals: agricultural communication junior Harrison Reilly, agricultural education major Riley Nilsen (elite eight), agricultural communication senior Ariana Joven, and agricultural communication junior Kenna Lewis.

In the end, the green and gold prevailed as Cal Poly took the first place team award. Ariana Joven was in the final four and received a $500 scholarship and Kenna Lewis was named the 2015 State Champion receiving a $1250 scholarship. Kenna will advance to the national competition at the AFBF Fusion conference in Kansas City, Missouri in February 2016.

Harrison Reilly, Riley Nilsen, Kenna Lewis, Arian JovenIMG_4245

See what some of the Cal Poly team members enjoyed about the event and some tips they have for future competitors…

Ariana Joven

Favorite Part: Collaborating with other students about the issue at hand. Each round not only allowed me to share my knowledge, but it also opened my eyes to other perspectives I had not considered. Overall, it was a great learning experience!

Advice: One suggestion I have for future competitors is to begin researching far ahead of time and know your facts!

Harrison Reilly

Favorite Part: Getting the opportunity to meet fellow bright agricultural minds from across the state.

Advice: Practice is key. Make sure you understand the format of the competition and watch videos of discussion meets on YouTube.

Kenna Lewis

Favorite Part: It was fun to see students I competed with in high school, and see how much all of us have grown and improved. I was so impressed with how knowledgeable everyone was on a diverse array of topics.

Advice: Develop solutions and possible conversation structures for each question ahead of time. It helps frame the discussion and helps you remember your talking points.

Advice: Develop solutions and possible conversation structures for each question ahead of time. It helps frame the discussion and helps you remember your talking points.


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Brock Talk: Lifehacks from Leslie Friend, Past Editor

Written by Leslie Friend, Past Brock Center Associate

“My problem is, I’ve done so many things,” I said to her, “I’ve spent my academic career bouncing around, being ‘good enough’ at a little of everything, but never great at one thing. How do you figure out what you’re meant to do when, up to this point, the goal was to be ‘well-rounded’?” I sat back in my chair at Sally Loo’s while my best friend gave me a pep talk that could rival Kid President. But deep down this source of anxiety still loomed, pressing me to question my soon-to-be Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications with a minor in Agri Business. It was October of my senior year at Cal Poly and it seemed as though everyone around me was falling into their dream job while I—miss “do all the things”—was still without a plan following June 12, 2012.


Lifehack #1: Statistically speaking, that “dream job” will likely not happen right after you graduate. New graduates will change jobs within the first 1-3 years of their employment and hold roughly 11.3 jobs in their lifetime. It may take a while, and that’s okay.

I went back to the drawing board and leaned what I knew about myself, eliminating things I knew were not an option: I am passionate about pizza. Not helpful. I am passionate about agriculture. “Great,” I thought, “That narrows it down to a global-scaled multi-billion dollar industry.” I want to make an impact in the industry that I love and I want to work alongside others who want to do the same. And then I remembered Tom.

During one of my extra-curricular bouts, I worked as a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador with the National FFA Organization. Here I was exposed to industry leaders, one of which is the company I work for today, BASF. Tom Holt was the Director of Biology at the time and acted as our facilitator during our week of training in North Carolina. He spoke about the imprint BASF as a global chemical company had on agriculture and how they would be a catalyst in feeding the world. I remember listening to he and his colleagues discuss, so passionately, the importance of supporting growers and helping them get the most out of every acre they produce. I was sold. Naturally, as I volleyed between thoughts of being an artisan pizza maker or doing something in agriculture, I reached out to Tom.

Lifehack #2: The people you meet along the way, no matter if they’re a CEO, industry mogul, or a low-level guy in regulatory, are critical to your career success. Keep a digital rolodex with every contact you make throughout college and beyond. I promise it will change your course for the better.

Tom accepted my resume for their Professional Development Program (PDP), a program that allowed 18 months of extensive marketing and field sales training in US Crops for BASF North America. When I was offered the position in late November of my senior year, I had no metrics for this type of work. Aside from the phone number for a relocation specialist and the promise of a job in Raleigh, North Carolina, my understanding for the following 18 months was limited. Even so, it was a job after graduation and 18 months of training that would allow me to exercise different roles within a company. Toting a U-Haul packed to the brim with belongings, my Cal Poly Alumni sweatshirt, a GPS and, my mom, I made the 2,300 mile trek from California to North Carolina to begin my journey as a PDP.

At BASF I spent nine months in a marketing rotation in the heart of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. While there, I worked alongside the Channel Strategy team creating grower and distributor programs for the field, setting prices for BASF’s herbicide and fungicide products, facilitating technical training modules to our sales team and analyzing a lot of data. I also made lasting professional relationships and learned that, although a great experience, analytical marketing and price setting was not something I particularly enjoyed.

Nine months later, I was in the heart of Washington state, working with Yakima Valley apple growers to decrease the apple scab problem in their orchards. This was the field sales rotation of my program and the moment I learned that I am not just passionate about agriculture but also its producers. I spent most of my time traveling the Pacific Northwest, selling chemistry to growers and finding a myriad of solutions for the problems on their farm. Throughout both rotations, BASF routinely scheduled additional agronomic and leadership training sessions for the PDP’s, trusting this exposure would warrant us a well-rounded approach in becoming a long-term BASF employee. As I neared the conclusion of my 18 months as a PDP, I was offered a position as the Eastern North Carolina Business Representative where I service roughly 50 retail locations and 100 growers locally, still providing solutions on the farm.

What they won’t tell you is that the work place is not like building 10 on campus. What they also fail to mention is that meeting people your age with a lot of commonalities between you does not happen as easily in the real world as it does in college. Making friends is difficult; adapting to a brand new culture is equally hard; starting a new job is terrifying, especially if you aren’t sure it will necessarily “fit” you. But I promise you it is worth it. My time at BASF has often been a confusing maze working to figure out what I like and what positions actually speak to the skill set I’ve attained over the past 24 years. Experiencing a little bit of everything here and there has been, ironically, the single most critical step to figuring out where I want to be long-term in the agriculture industry.

Lifehack #3: Embrace trial and error in your career. You’ll come out of it as a stronger and better-rounded human, not to mention the adventures that will find you.

Pro Tip: Still learn how to make artisan pizzas. They go over great at company pot-lucks.

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Finding My Voice: Lessons from Working in Radio

Written by Camille Cordisco, Agricultural Communication Senior

I rCamilleemember the very first time I heard country music. I was 11 years old, fidgeting with the radio dial in my room after my favorite pop station had gone off the air for good. One more small turn of the dial to the right, and Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Happen Twice” started to come in loud and clear through the speakers. It was love at first sound. Little did I know I would someday be working in radio, playing some of the very same songs I fell in love with growing up.

Now, I work at 98.1 KJUG FM as a weeknight on-air host, sharing country music and stories with listeners. It has been an amazing adventure so far. I have learned quite a bit along the way and hope to share some of those lessons with you.

Here are four things working as a radio DJ have taught me about finding my voice in sharing my passions with others:

  1. If people can hear your smile, that also means they can hear your passion: I remember listening to myself when I was on air for the first time a few months ago. I sounded cold, and I am NOT a cold person! I was so focused on saying everything right, I forgot to smile, relax and be me! Some of that comes with practice, (another important aspect of finding your voice) but a lot of the ability to share your smile and your passion is remembering you have it in the first place! When we talk about something we are passionate about, others can hear it. Have you ever been on the phone with someone and heard a smile in their voice? It sounds much different than if they had a straight face. Granted, some things we are passionate about are not always going to be happy, but we can effectively share our emotions through our voice.
  2. Sometimes an elevator pitch is all you have, (and all you need): I usually only have 15-45 seconds to speak on air at a time, so I have learned how to summarize an idea or a story very well! As radio hosts, we talk about a number of things from events in the community, to contests, to musicians or stories of our own. We might have a lot to say, but we don’t have a lot of time to say it. Before I hit the record button, I think about three things: how I am going to get the listeners’ attention, what they really need to know, and how to exit the conversation. Those three things are also in an elevator pitch! So essentially, that is what I am doing every time I talk on air. If I want listeners to get excited, be curious to know more, or be informed on a topic, an elevator pitch is the way to go. Knowing the purpose of what you are talking about gives your voice purpose.
  3. People want to know you. So share your story: I think the reason they call us radio “personalities” is because we all have one! When I am on air, I want to be me. There is nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who isn’t real. Share your interests with others so they can get to know who you are while you are also sharing what you are passionate about – whether it’s music, agriculture or something entirely different! You know yourself better than you know anything else. I like food and agriculture, humor, out of the ordinary facts of course music, so that is what I try to talk about with listeners. If I am interested, they will be too! Or they’ll laugh at how weird I am, (did I mention I like humor?). You and your story are important parts of your voice. KJUG Board
  4. Know Your Audience and Keep A Theme: People who listen to KJUG are choosing to do so, which means they like country music. This gives us a common ground from the start. When sharing your voice and passions with others, it is always important to find that common ground. For a country music audience, the music speaks to things we care about or invoke an emotion we want to feel whether it’s happy, sad or even rebellious! When I talk about a song that was just played or one that is coming up next, I try to share that value or emotion I get from the song when talking about something else in order to stitch two ideas together. Finding common ground is going to set a strong foundation for your voice to be heard.

Radio has always been a part of my life. To go from being a listener to an on-air host has been quite an exciting journey! I still have a lot of work to do in finding my voice as an agricultural communicator, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to learn by doing as a student at Cal Poly and as a DJ at 98.1 KJUG.


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Brock Talk: Amanda Meneses, Past Editor Talks About Life After Cal Poly

True Life: I Quit My First Big-Girl Job After Only Six Months
And other stories from a recent alumna who is venturing through the early stages of adulthood.

1015442_10200265079984532_1969900178_oIn October of my senior year at Cal Poly, I received an incredible opportunity to attend the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in New Orleans. Besides being over the moon excited to explore a new city, I was really looking forward to all of the opportunities I would have networking with professionals in the produce industry. What I really didn’t expect was to come home with a potential job offer on the table.

I couldn’t believe my luck! After only a month into my senior year, I already had the security of employment come graduation time. To guarantee the job was actually mine, I even went as far as agreeing to start the position remotely January of my senior year. Mistake #1 of many more to come in my adult life. Balancing a full schedule of classes, a part time job as an Ag Circle editor, a part time job as a nanny, a senior project AND a position as a social media director for over 15 clients was not an easy task. All this, while simultaneously trying to enjoy my last few months in San Luis Obispo. But I held on knowing it would all pay off in the end.

What I didn’t take into account, however, was what the job was going to look like after graduation. Mistake #2. I knew when going in that I would be working from home…that should have raised a red flag immediately. Although the idea of working from home may appeal to some, I grew anxious just thinking about it. I knew I would begin to long for communication and relationships with coworkers and I knew I would become restless being stuck at home all day. These are important qualities about myself I should have taken into account, but that’s what mistakes are for, right?

10923603_10202799091973248_2998807065971417561_nAnd so, six months after I began my first big-girl job, I quit. Believe me when I say I was absolutely mortified. I never let others down and I certainly never quit! But the idea of being completely happy in something I had to do for 40 hours every week was too important to not fight for.

However, don’t believe for a minute that I was brave, no, I was being arrogant. Mistake #3. I thought the first job I applied to  next, I would interview for and begin working within a couple weeks’ time. That thought, I know now, was incredibly naïve.

The next months were filled with resumes, cover letters, phone calls, interviews and rejection emails. The whole process left me second guessing my skills, my value, even my intelligence. As Cal Poly students, we’re told over and over again the Learn by Doing model will set us apart from any other graduate of our kind. My intent is not to scare you, but rather to just give you an honest example. I am so thankful for the education I received at Cal Poly, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. But graduating from Cal Poly doesn’t guarantee you a job; hard work, drive, passion and courage do.

People would tell me over and over again during that time there was a reason why I kept hearing “no” and “every rejection was leading me to the perfect ‘yes.’” I thought they were full of it. Fortunately, they were right.


This past Christmas, Amanda supplied the Halos for her family’s lunch!


Amanda was able to return to Cal Poly in January representing Paramount Citrus at Ag Showcase.

After three months of unemployment and a month of substitute teaching, I was offered a position with Paramount Citrus to be their first Tour Coordinator of the Halos plant. I am so thankful and humbled to come to work each day with a group of people who are passionate, generous and proud of the work they do. I personally think I have one of the more exciting positions, because every day I get to share with others how incredible of a company Paramount Citrus is and the amazing work that has already been done to share Halos with the world. In just three short months I have given tours to folks from all over California, Canada, Spain, South Africa and so much more.

So in the end, everything worked out. And that has probably been the greatest lesson I’ve learned since graduating… “It’s all going to be okay.”

Maybe not right at first, but someday.

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Meet Ms. Erin Gorter!

Last week, introduced Mr. Clemente Ayon as one of the newest faculty members in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department (AGED). Today, we are happy to introduce another new faculty member, Ms. Erin Gorter!

1. Where are you from?

San Luis Obispo, CA

2. Since being at Cal Poly, what has been your most memorable experience?  

Supervising teacher candidates has been the most memorable experience. I’ve had the opportunity to visit schools I’ve never been to and see some awesome agriculture programs!

3. How did you become involved in Ag?

I was involved in 4-H at a young age which then evolved into FFA. I learned to love agriculture and knew I wanted a career in the industry.

4. Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

I attended Modesto Junior College and then transferred to Texas Tech University where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. My teaching credentials and master’s degree were earned through Cal Poly.

5. Most memorable experience in agriculture?

Most most memorable experience was on the Texas Tech Livestock Judging Team. Some of the greatest memories I have are of traveling across the country in a large, white can with a trailer behind it, looking at livestock with some of my best friends.

6. What made you want to teach?  

My high school agriculture teacher had a tremendous impact on my decision to teach. Seeing her succeed at something she enjoyed really influenced my decision to become a part of the agriculture education family.

7. What Classes do you teach? 

I teach AGED 410, Computers in Education, AGED 303, FFA and SAE, AGED 220, Youth Leadership Conferences.

8. How does teaching college students compare to high school students?  

College students seem more focused on the immediate task at hand while being in class. I like it when Cal Poly students stop by my office to chat or check in. I had the opportunity to work with a few students fall quarter and traveled to Kentucky together. It was a great time and I really enjoyed the perspective each student brought on the trip.That being said, I do miss the occasional high school student outburst; when they can’t contain the thought in their head and it is just out there! It may not always be topical, appropriate or necessary, but it always adds some interest to the day.

9. Outside of work what are some of your favorite things to do?  

My husband and I brew lots of beer. We also enjoy traveling to new breweries and sampling some fine craft brews. We are looking into growing our own hops this year. I also enjoy reading, shooting and fishing. We have three dogs, Catahoula, Rowdy, an Australian Shepherd, and Lady, a Cairn/Yorkie Cross. Lady can be found at #picsforladysfirstyear. Yes, she has her own hashtag!

We are very happy to welcome Ms. Erin Gorter to the AGED faculty and expect great things to come from her while she is here.

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