Working in DC: Where Farm Meets City

Written by Kenna Lewis, Associate Editor

There are countless things to love about the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. I could go on for days about the beauty of the office: the conference room views overlooking the national mall, the barn wood rotunda, etc. I could rave about the free coffee (if you know #teambrock, you know coffee is a lifeline) or the weekly fruit deliveries. But at the end of the day, three main things have made the first month of this summer absolutely incredible: the mission of the organization, the responsibility they’ve given me as a summer intern, and the people I get to call coworkers.


The Mission

For those who may not be as familiar with AFBF, the organization’s mission is to stand as a unified national voice of agriculture by working through our grassroots organizations. Farm Bureau represents every type of farming practice, from large-scale ranches to small organic farms, recognizing the need for diverse operations. This mission is not something that is taken lightly by AFBF employees.

I’ve had the chance to sit in on a few meetings from around the office where it has become evident how genuinely the staff cares about representing the grassroots level of the industry. Special committees have been formed and full positions created to ensure county FB offices up to the AFBF office are in constant communication, and that ranching families know what current issues could affect them and how AFBF is working to accurately represent all sectors of the industry.


The Responsibility

 The past four weeks in the Communications Department have been nowhere near a “typical internship.” I was shocked throughout my first week, even my first day, at the amount of trust and responsibility granted to me. Within my initial few hours in the office, my boss promised that I would never be given a menial “intern task,” and then proceeded to assign me a 1,000 word feature story for Feed & Grain magazine, and another for the official newspaper of Farm Bureau. Throughout the course of the month, I was asked to sit on panels representing AFBF, attend press conferences, and manage many of the social media platforms. I have been provided a delicate balance of helpful guidance and entrepreneurial encouragement. The trust my bosses and the rest of the AFBF team have put into my hands is both humbling and exciting, and I don’t take it lightly.



The People

 Arguably the best part of working for AFBF is the group of people I work alongside each day. During my first hour in the office, a woman from Human Resources gave me a tour of the building, and with each office we passed by, a fellow employee shook my hand, learned my name (and actually remembered it!) and asked me about my hometown. The warmth and “family attitude” of the staff makes the working environment somewhere I want to be everyday, and it is evident that the folks around me genuinely love their job.

 Not only are the people beyond welcoming, they are also extremely passionate about their area of expertise. One of the coolest parts about working in such a large office is that each department specializes in something different, yet all come together to form one unified voice. Some days I’ll find myself soaking up the endless knowledge and personal experiences of the “issue experts” in the public policy department, and a day later I’ll find myself dissecting leadership theory in the organization department. The staff is made up of such a broad range of backgrounds, from past and current farmers to “city folk,” yet all have found their niche in serving a common purpose. The raw enthusiasm of those who work beside me gives me great confidence in the future of the agriculture industry.


 AFBF has been such a rewarding place to work, and I know my time in DC has been a summer well spent. Although it will be over in a few short weeks, I am thrilled for what this internship still has in store!

IMG_1749 IMG_1799

Posted in Brock Staff, Summer Blogs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Red, White & Blue and Ice Cream Too

Written by Katie Roberti, Associate Editor

If celebrating America’s birthday isn’t a good enough cause to make you love the month of July, here’s one more reason why it should be one of your favorite months of the year!

Thirty years ago President Ronald Reagan made a rich and creamy proclamation, one that I fully support. He designated July as National Ice Cream Month. His really large sweet tooth may have contributed to the idea, but Reagan had a much greater purpose for this designation than to solely fulfill all of America’s sweet cravings.

In 1984 Reagan proclaimed, “Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food.”

Looking to improve the economy at the end of the Cold War, Reagan saw an opportunity to use American’s favorite dairy dessert to do just that. He decided this was something most Americans could both benefit from and enjoy.

Reagan further proclaimed, “The ice cream industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. Indeed, nearly ten percent of all the milk produced by the United States dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry.”

Today ice cream continues to greatly contribute to America’s dairy industry. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, in 2010 the ice cream industry in the U.S. generated total revenues of $10 billion, with about 9 percent of milk being used for ice cream production.


I scream, you scream, Brock screams for ice cream! Katie Roberti, Associate Editor, and Jordan Dunn, Editor in Chief, enjoy a large helping of ice cream to support National Ice Cream Month.

In addition to the designation of the entire month, Reagan also declared every third Sunday of July to be National Ice Cream Day in America. So, if your swimsuit body can’t resist the treat for an entire month, at least dedicate National Ice Cream Day, on Sunday, July 20 to a scoop or two.

The Fourth of July may be over, but you’ve still got plenty of time to fully enjoy the remainder of the month. Don’t let the month of July melt away without celebrating Reagan’s national month and supporting the dairy industry! If you’re summering in San Luis Obispo, grab a pint of your favorite Cal Poly Ice Cream and do as Reagan once encouraged every American to do, “observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Posted in Ag Knowledge, Brock Staff, Summer Blogs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Sneak Peek at What’s To Come…

Written by Jordan Dunn, Editor in Chief. 

Now that Summer has officially been set in motion for Cal Poly students, I’d like to take this time to welcome in the 2014-2015 Brock Center Associates and let you all know what to expect from us this summer!

As you may have seen on our facebook page recently, we have two new associates coming to us in the Brock Center this year: Harrison Reilly and Katie Roberti!

Along with Harrison and Katie, we have Jordan Dunn (myself) and Kenna Lewis who are both returning from last year’s Brock team. All four Associates are 3rd year agricultural communication majors, and very involved in clubs within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Each of us brings something different to the table, in terms of experience and skills, which should make for a great team!

Harrison Reilly, Katie Roberti, Jordan Dunn and Kenna Lewis.

Harrison Reilly, Katie Roberti, Jordan Dunn and Kenna Lewis.


Now onto the fun stuff, let’s take a sneak peek at what we have coming this summer!

In terms of summer blogs, we will have one post from each of the Brock Associates on an agricultural topic that we are experiencing this summer – whether it be through an internship or personal experience. We also have a blog post planned to feature the Midstate Fair, and a “Live Blog” of our trip with the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow to the 2014 Agricultural Media Summit in Indianapolis, Indiana.

If you have a great idea for any other blog posts that just can’t wait for Fall, you can send me an email at to fill me in!

We look forward to keeping you all updated with interesting reads, and starting our work on the next issue of the Ag Cirlce magazine this fall. Stay tuned!

Posted in Brock Staff | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Finding Your Perfect Match: Cal Poly’s Agricultural Clubs

Post written by Taylor Dericco, Animal Science student.


The thought of participating in school clubs can be scary, full of questions such as “did I choose the right one?”, or “do I have enough time to do more than one club and still finish my homework?” While I can’t answer those questions for you, I can help you learn a bit more about a few of the agricultural clubs here on campus. And who knows, you might find that they’re the perfect way to de-stress and take your mind off all your schoolwork!

 1.  Alpha Zeta

Alpha Zeta is the co-ed, professional fraternity for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. For anyone interested in a career in agriculture or natural resources, this is one of the best resume builders you can find! The members of Alpha Zeta are involved in many of Cal Poly’s local events such as Open House and WOW week, but present ample opportunities to meet and work for the community as well. Alpha Zeta is the first and oldest collegiate society for agriculture, and members of the Cal Poly chapter continue to strive to become the future leaders of their industries.

 2.  Block and Bridle

10256565_10152168082613425_6162738639612732362_nThe Block and Bridle club is an agriculture based club open to students of any major – agricultural or not! With a focus on livestock and ranching methods, members of this club have the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the agricultural industry by participating in field trips and other activities. In recent years, this club has toured large-scale operations such as Harris Ranch and Hearst Ranch to learn about their unique ranching styles and background, and have participated in school events such as Open House with their award winning tri-tip sandwiches.

 3.  Collegiate Future Farmers of America (CFFA)

Remember those days of blue corduroy jackets, working with animals, and serving the community? CFFA provides the opportunity for students to relive those memories and participate in similar activities throughout their college experience, while helping out local high school FFA members. This is a great addition to any resume, but more importantly an opportunity to develop your potential for leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

 4.  Crops Club

1233337_757316510986075_7674000290734046366_nFocusing on information related to the crop science major courses, this club is perfect for anyone interested in a career path that stems from Crop Science. Throughout the year, the Crops Club offers its members opportunities to socialize and network with professionals in many different aspects of the industry. You do not have to be a crop science major to join, however, as the club also participates in activities such as making and operating the corn maze in the Fall, going on a deep sea fishing trip, and providing Cal Poly grown pumpkins for Halloween carving!


Being a part of a club on campus gives you an opportunity to network and meet new people, and most clubs orient the focus of their meetings to what you are interested in. If you’re not sure whether the clubs above are what you’re looking for, don’t count out all clubs! The best option is to go to Week of Welcome Club Showcase at the beginning of the Fall Quarter, and stop at a few clubs that you might find interesting. With so many clubs offered at this school, there is guaranteed at least one club to peak your interest!

Posted in ACT, Cal Poly News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grace of a Woman

Post written by Maddie Dunlap, Agricultural Communication senior.


Julie Dunlap is truly one of the most caring and selfless mothers I have met.  Most of us can say the same. What puts my mother among the crème de la crème is that she has all the super powers moms have while balancing a career as a strong cattlewoman.10171261_850457411637926_8538221419009432273_n

Julie Marie Gilligan grew up in the San Jose hills, going to a K-12 one room school.  She was the only person in her class until shortly before her graduation.  With a school that small, sports were not an option.  Instead, the kids at Harney School spent their recesses lining up for their turn at the roping dummy.

After graduating high school, my mom moved to the big city of Salinas to go to Hartnell Community College.  She joined her brother Jim who promptly told all the cowboys to stay away from his sister Julie.  Luckily, one of the rodeo cowboys either didn’t hear Jim Gilligan’s warning or didn’t care.  Jim Dunlap met Julie Gilligan when she began sharing photos she took of the rodeo team.  My dad eventually joined Cal Poly’s rodeo team with my mom alongside him. After they dated for five years, they were married.

Two kids later, my dad’s rodeo career came to an end. The Dunlap family found themselves back in my dad’s hometown of Williams, CA. My dad found a job with the One Bar Cattle Company.  That was 20 years ago.  My parents still manage the ranch and have helped grow it to over 900 head of angus cross cattle.

My mom has been essential to the success of the ranch.  In addition to caring for the cattle, my parents also train several horses that are used to help work the cattle.  My mom starts most of the horses as young colts, helping to build the foundation for the rest of their training.1909239_10202566760641802_2008887107_o

Working with large animals can have its fair share of dangers.  About eight years ago, while sorting cattle in the coral, my mom’s horse was spooked and ended up crushing her between her saddle and the fence.  The accident ending up rupturing her bladder and breaking multiple vertebrae in her neck.   After the dust settled and my mom was released from the hospital, she got right back to her job.  Her job of being a mother.  I was in the middle of softball season and my dad was already in Oregon for the summer with the cattle.  Not missing a beat, my mom drove me to my game an hour away, neck brace and all.

There are many caring, hardworking women who balance a job and a family flawlessly.  A woman in agriculture is something truly special.  The cows always need something, but so do her children.  My mom does it all.  She has been a shining example in my life of how a woman can be successful in a man’s world with the strength and grace that only a woman has.  untitled-1-22

Posted in Ag Passion, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Fellow Mustang Takes on State FFA Office

Post written by Haley Warner, Agricultural Communication student.


Having your name called to be a California State FFA officer is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the entire world, and not having your name called is one of the worst. I have experienced both. I wouldn’t have asked it to be any other way.

You see, within this last year of having lost State Office, I have learned more about myself than I ever have.  I realized what it took to be a leader. I realized that a leader is someone who does not let one fall-back or failure define them, instead they use it as a growing experience. With that said, I decided to run again because of my love for the members and my new purpose to lead, inspire and appreciate the entire California FFA organization.

Three weeks ago in Fresno, California, at the 86th annual California State FFA Leadership Conference I was elected the 2014-2015 California State FFA Vice President. I am truly honored. The idea that the members believe in our team’s ability to serve them for the coming year is beyond humbling.  I cannot wait to embark on my year of service.

Having spent the last year at Cal Poly I have been able to experience service outside of the blue and gold jacket. Last week at the State FFA Judging Finals it was amazing to see both ends of the spectrum. I was able to witness the hard work of the thousands of FFA members toward their various Career Development Events and on the other side, I saw the toil of Cal Poly students and faculty willing to put on such an impressive event for the betterment of others.

As a member of both the FFA and Mustang family, there are no words to express my enthusiasm for the upcoming year and how appreciative I am for all of the love and support. I am fortunate to call myself a Mustang and so incredibly blessed to serve the California FFA Association for the coming year.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Mustang’s Learn by Doing Duty

Post written by Taylor Dericco, Animal Science student.


Regardless if you’re a first year or a fifth year, every Cal Poly student knows the university’s renowned motto, Learn by Doing. It is just as likely that you have also experienced this slogan first hand – stepping outside of the classroom and getting your hands dirty during one or more of the classes offered here. If not, one of the best ways to get started is to participate in one of the many enterprise classes!

With over 30 enterprise courses offered throughout the year, there is plenty to choose from. But if you’re still not sure which one to take, here are a few to get you started!

  1. Escuela Commercial Cow-Calf Enterprise

The Escuela Enterprise is offered in the fall, winter and spring, so there is plenty of time to get involved! Taking this enterprise all three quarters allows students to help manage a commercial cattle operation for an entire production cycle – so you get to experience calving season through the next breeding season, as well as help with feeding, vaccinations, branding and much more!


  1. Value Added Processing Enterprise

Ever wanted to process meat products? Cal Poly’s very own federally inspected Meat Processing Center provides the opportunity for a handful of students to process meat products such as summer sausage, beef jerky, linguica and more! The products you make will be marketed through the campus store, as well as to the San Luis Obispo community!

  1. Food Science and Nutrition Production Team

Your grandmother was an expert at canning, and now you can be too! Learn how to safely make and package edible goods such as jams, barbecue sauces, and salad dressing, as well as how to market these products to the campus community. Although this program is not considered an outright enterprise, the Food Science and Nutrition Department offers this opportunity through an application process to work as a part-time employee. When asked about the benefits of this program, Brandon Coleman, Pilot Plant Manager in the Food Science and Nutrition Department, mentioned, “this job is a great resume builder, and it teaches many skills including team building and interpersonal skills.” Students of any major may apply to be part of the team, getting a chance to learn more about the food manufacturing industry and food processing!

  1. Cal Poly Mascot Program

A brand new enterprise beginning fall quarter of 2014, the Cal Poly Mascot Program offers students of any major an opportunity to train live mustangs who will act as Cal Poly mascots at sporting events and other school functions. Founded on the donation of one mustang, this enterprise is growing quickly and is sure to be one of the top enterprises offered at this school! While there are no prerequisites to participate in the enterprise, horse experience is required to work hands-on with the mustangs. Do not let this stop you though, as many other positions may be available to give everyone access to this great new opportunity!


These are just a few of the many enterprise opportunities that can be found here at Cal Poly. Information on current enterprises being offered in specific quarters can be found in most of the department offices, or by asking the faculty member in charge of the course. So get out there, get your hands dirty and embrace that Learn by Doing nature that makes you a Cal Poly Mustang!

Posted in Cal Poly Adventures, Cal Poly News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment