Do You Know the Origin of Your Fourth of July Feast?

It’s that time of year again! Red, white and blue has swept the nation in anticipation for the firework-filled Fourth of July weekend. While we all know the significance of this momentous day in history, few know just how large of a role agriculture plays in the average Independence Day celebration.

As the top BBQ day in our country each year, a feast is expected at the forefront of most Fourth of July parties. But where in the world does all of this delicious food come from? Or shall we say “where in the country?”

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  1. Iowa is the largest producer of pork hot dogs and sausages consumed on the Fourth of July.
  2. A large majority of the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers consumed originate from Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.
  3. If you are chowing down on some barbecued chicken, more likely than not it came from Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas.
  4. There’s a 66 percent chance the corn on the cob your tasting came from Florida, California, Georgia, Washington or New York.
  5. There’s a 70 percent chance the juicy tomatoes sandwiched in your burger and sprinkled through your salad came from Florida or California.
  6. There’s a 33 percent chance any baked beans you consume at your patriotic cookout came from North Dakota.
  7. Seventy percent odds show your fresh lettuce is likely from California.
  8. Florida, California, Georgia and Texas are the dominant suppliers of watermelon for this juicy feast.

Bonus Fact: More than 155 million hot dogs are consumed on the Fourth of July (naturally making it the largest hot dog holiday of the year as well).

For more fun facts about the Fourth of July, check out:

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Cal Poly Cuts Water Usage as Part of Drought Response Plan


The turf in Ag Circle is one of the areas on campus going brown already. 

This post is a reblog from our peers at Mustang News. 

Oriana Bardinelli
Special to Mustang News

Dexter Lawn will stay green, but soon Cal Poly students will find less turf elsewhere on campus. The school is letting 28 percent of its turf — a proposed 13.6 acres in total — go brown in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s new demands that campuses cut their water use by one-fourth.

Other big changes in the plan include more efficient showerheads and a new “smart” control system to monitor irrigation.

The changes come as part of a revision to the university’s 2015 Drought Response Plan, finalized May 6.

Administrators are confident the plan can exceed financial and conservation goals.

On April 1, Brown imposed a mandatory 25 percent water use restriction throughout California. The order addresses both personal and institutional conservation efforts, requiring residents and businesses to cut their use by a quarter compared to 2013 water consumption.

For universities across California, cuts will begin with revisions to landscape master plans and building modifications for water efficiency, such as low-flow toilets and faucets. Campuses throughout the state will be forced to, “go brown” literally as they shut off water to plants and turf to meet restriction requirements.

Cal Poly’s campus will be no exception.

“We are trying to be as efficient as we can,” said Scott Loosley, director of facilities operations for Cal Poly. Loosley represents the landscape design interests of the university and helped revise the existing Cal Poly Drought Response Plan.

The 2015 update, approved by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong on April 24, is expected to exceed Brown’s conservation order once current irrigation and housing technology upgrades are complete.

Does this mean O’Neil Green outside the Orfalea College of Business, and other campus lawns will be turning brown?

“I hope they choose to cut back (on watering) areas on the outsides of campus,” said Jesus Nolasco a mathematics senior. Nolasco studies outside between classes for at least an hour a day, usually on Dexter Lawn or the grass surrounding Graphic Arts (building 26).

On a college campus, lawns serve many purposes, offering students and faculty an outdoor space to learn, study, relax, exercise, and gather between classes.

“We use our lawns on campus more than other places in the community where they merely hold an ornamental purpose,” said Conner Everts, the Executive Director of The Southern California Watershed Alliance.

Administrators considered this in the plan. Cal Poly does not anticipate disrupting the maintenance of major turf areas. The report says irrigation cuts will have “a minimal impact to the campus esthetic or the most heavily used lawns.”

The turf cutback is expected to reduce Cal Poly’s total water use by 6 percent.

If lawns are removed, most will be re-planted with drought-tolerant plants, according to Loosley.  This will be a long-term effort, pending funding to purchase water-efficient plants.

The Drought Response Plan proposes three focus areas for conservation management:

  • Turf reduction
  • Compost/mulching
  • Irrigation controls

Turf reduction, as discussed, offers a significant relief of water waste for the university.

The plan also suggests a recommendation for using Cal Poly compost in planting beds. Compost enriches surrounding soil and retains moisture. Available at no cost from Farm Ops, this measure will save 13-acre feet of water per year and is already in practice.

Recommendations for irrigation control suggest installing a smart system to optimize water use. A digital control system can monitor irrigation needs in-real-time, with consideration to: plant type/needs, weather, and soil condition.

The Cal State University Chancellor’s Office approved a facilities request in March of this year to install and modify the university’s current system. The project will cost $153,000 saving 25 acre feet of water per year.

If successful, landscape recommendations featured in the Drought Response Plan will conserve nearly 100-acre feet of water per year. This is estimated to save Cal Poly $127,000 a year, returning investment for the school within the next 16 months.

It’s unlikely that Cal Poly will run out of water if the drought continues. Cal Poly is a partner in the Whale Rock Reservoir and controls its own water rights, supply source and storage capacity. With the reservoir now at 53 percent of capacity, the report says Cal Poly could supply campus for nearly six years with no rainfall whatsoever.

See more at:

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How to Have a Stress-Free Finals Week

Is the amount of work you have to do between now and summer weighing you down? Have you been on the hunt for ways to mitigate your stress before it overwhelms you? Look no further! Here we have five tips to rock your last five days of Spring Quarter.

1. Make a study schedule

Do you ever sit down to study and realize 30 minutes later you’ve been cruising on Buzzfeed far longer than you’d like to admit? Make a study vs. rest schedule so you don’t have to feel guilty about taking your internet breaks! Aim for 50 minutes of studying and 10 minutes of break time, but don’t forget to get up and stretch as well. Bonus points: schedule out the entire week. If you’re like most students, you’ll have more than one final on more than one day, so plan ahead of time which days will be devoted to studying what.

2. Spark Some Scents

Aromatherapy is thought to be an excellent stress reliever, specifically with the use of lavender. Light some candles and reap the benefits of a relaxed mind and fragrant room. 

3. Work It Out

Often times, when students get overwhelmed by the stress of studying, working out drops lower on the priority list. But in fact, exercise can help you focus! It rejuvenates your brain, gives you more energy, and breaks up the monotony of staring at a book or computer screen. Set aside an hour each day to soak up the sun on one of the many hikes in SLO, try out a new gym class at the rec, or visit the calves at the dairy unit.

4. Take A Nap

Make room in your study schedule for a quick power nap, because who doesn’t need more sleep? Make sure your nap doesn’t exceed 30 minutes as you may wake up feeling more tired than before.

5. Yoga Time

Performing some light yoga combines relaxing breathing and soothing movements sure to eliminate stress. Bending isn’t really your forte? Try meditation! Mental silence is a powerful tool to reboot your mind between study sessions and eliminate distracting thoughts steering you away from acing your next test.


May the odds be ever in your favor!



This list was adapted from:

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Agriculture Future of America

Written by Christine Curtis

christineI want to share a little bit about an amazing organization called Agriculture Future of America (AFA). AFA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young agriculturalists into future leaders of the agriculture industry. It’s hard to explain the passion and how much the organization believes in us college students. All I can say is this organization has literally changed my life.

As a freshmen at Cal Poly, jumping into the start of the training into the agriculture industry, I kept hearing professors advising students to start looking into internships and career paths. Later on, back at home I was at a family barbecue and a friend, who was currently a AFA Campus Ambassador for AFA for UC Davis, inspired me to start looking more into AFA. Eventually, I said what the heck, I’ll apply to go to the Annual Leaders Conference. Not thinking anything of it, I got accepted to go to Kansas City, MO that November! Instantly I panicked. How am I going to get there? What exactly am I doing? Oh no, flying… At that point in my life, I have never flown anywhere before. So the night before I was supposed to jump on the plane, I broke down and almost cancelled my flight. But I sucked it up and went for it.

img_5807Traveling wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was able to navigate the airports and get taxis when I needed, but once I got to the conference I was blown away. I heard from motivational speakers like Temple Grandin, Orion Samuelson, and many more! I got to work one-on-one with a recruiter from Cargill on building my resume. I attended the opportunity fair that featured over 100 companies that were so interested in hearing my elevator pitch as well as offering me some amazing internship opportunities. I learned a lot about goal setting, communication skills, and I also was able to have dinner with some industry professionals!

Additionally, I not only got to network with industry professionals, but I also got to know so many passionate student leaders from all over the country. These students are so welcoming and ready to help serve the end goal, to become the future passionate leaders of the agriculture industry. The friendships that I made with these students will last for a lifetime. It’s crazy to think that one day I will be either be working along side these leaders or be competing against them in the career world.

Coming back from the conference, I felt incredibly empowered. I was ready to take on the world! I started getting involved in my school with the Agribusiness Management Club as well as deciding to minor in Agriculture Communications. This experience solidified the reasons why I am pursuing a career in the agriculture industry as well as motivated me to not just be ordinary, but extraordinary in my everyday life. I now pay a lot more attention to the current problems in agriculture as well as reach out to my peers and get to know them. The conference gave me the confidence to go out into my county and land a local internship. From there, I have grown into managing the downtown location for a local beef jerky company called Cattaneo Bros.

1469920_10202503534853424_551780727_nI have stayed involved in AFA throughout college so far by attending two leaders conferences, participating in AFA’s ONTAP webinars, and I have become one of AFA’s 2015 Campus Ambassadors. I represent Cal Poly nationally at AFA events as well as spreading awareness of AFA on campus. So far I have gained the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences approval in funding inquiries as well as getting a group of students interested in getting involved!

I can’t thank AFA enough for providing an amazing opportunity for me and other students to get professional training and for further fueling my passion for agriculture.

If you want to learn more about AFA, visit their website or please feel free to contact me, Christine Curtis at with any questions. Thanks for reading!


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Cal Poly FFA State Finals

The 76th annual State FFA Finals were held at Cal Poly on May 2, 2015.  Hosting the FFA State Finals at Cal Poly has been a tradition for decades. This year, California FFA members competed in 21 Career Development Events for the title of State Champions. Students arrived ready to compete after months of learning, practicing and preparing with the guidance of their agriculture advisers and coaches.

As always, the day concluded with thousands of blue jackets piled in the Cal Poly gymnasium anxiously awaiting recognition for their hard work and dedication towards competing in the 2015 California State FFA Finals. Congratulations to all of the winners and all of the chapters on their achievement!

Make sure to check out an upcoming article on the history of Cal Poly FFA State Finals in the next issue of Ag Circle magazine, available to readers in early June!

Meet the State Champions:

Ag Issues Team

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Agronomy, Tulelake FFA
Best Informed Greenhand, Madera South FFA
Floriculture, Madera South FFA
Light Horse, Woodland Pioneer FFA
Nursery Landscape, Madera South FFA

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Our Top Takeaways from the Meet Your Meat Forum


On May 7, 2015 the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication hosted a forum about local meat producers and how they navigate production, processing and marketing their beef products.

For those who didn’t get the opportunity to join us, here are the top things we learned from Mark Klever, Belcampo President and Roland Camacho, Beef Production Manager of Hearst Beef Ranch.

1. Transparency with consumers is important. 

Klever highlighted the different Belcampo shops and restaurants across California. Belcampo has locations in Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco, Larkspur (Marin County), Palo Alto and Santa Barbara.

While each shop is tailored to its different communities, the shops have a running theme of keeping everything open, not trying to hide any part of the butchering process from the consumer. Butchers are out in the open cutting meat for consumers, where the consumer can clearly see what goes into segmenting a carcass. The Larkspur restaurant even has an open window looking into their meat locker, with hanging carcasses on display. While some people might think this is a turn-off for consumers, Klever said visitors love the feature.

“When it comes to talking farms, butchers and consumers, it all comes down to communication,” Klever said. “When you live it, it’s easy to tell your story.”

Camacho also added the same principles apply at Hearst Ranch, saying “we make everything as transparent as possible” when dealing with consumers.

2. While transparency is important, it’s important to keep goals and operations realistic.


Klever sharing about BelCampo’s story with the group.

Both Klever and Camacho emphasized the market demand for grassfed beef. Consumers want to know where the cow came from, what it’s being fed and that the animal is being treated as humanely as possible.

While both Hearst Ranch and Belcampo do as much as possible to cater to the consumer, some demands are not economically viable. “Consumers are crucial,” Klever said, “but we have to be careful to not let consumers drive us to something unrealistic.”

3. Consistency is a key component to customer loyalty. 

Mark Klever explained the pressure to deliver a high quality product on time never ceases to be a challenge. Yet, it is crucial to maintain the loyalty and trust of any producer’s consumer base.

According to Klever, losing a customer can take a matter of seconds once they realize your product isn’t ready to go perfectly on time. “Customers are hard to build but easy to lose,” he said.

Consistent production should always be a top priority, therefore production plans must be created far in advance with room for adaptations to consumers’ changing demand.

And a final note of wisdom…

“Common sense is the rarest commodity of all!” Don’t underestimate the power of basic consumer education. 

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A Cal Poly Student’s Inside Look at the Kentucky Derby

Written by Alden Caldwell

j5Sp8uP1f2PZRuZUAmLYW0S4ZtUMgCGR2wrzpW8sp6E More than 294,200 fans made their way to Churchill Downs over the weekend to revel in the pinnacle of Thoroughbred racing for the 141st Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Mint Juleps, lavish hats, and quirky suits were picturesque under blue skies and the twin spires as a record breaking crowd watched the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”


Team NBC Talent Assists and RF Cam Spotters.

This year was my third trip to the Derby and second time working the Oaks and Derby as media for NBC. I was given the opportunity to work for NBC upon my graduation from high school and I gladly accepted; since then I have worked countless races across the country. My knowledge of the horse racing industry is why I became a “camera spotter” for the network. This job entails following an assigned trainer or owner to the location they will watch the race from and directing a camera man to that person to get a “reaction shot” during and after the race. Being on the media team gives me the unique opportunity to have what I would consider the true “Derby experience.” With an all-access pass, I can go many of the places others cannot and have the special amenities given to those who own, train, or raised an Oaks or Derby horse.

Historically, Churchill Downs has been one of the most opulent scenes in American culture, and this year was no exception. Kentucky Oaks day shattered the previous record attendance, set in 2010, with nearly 124,000 attendees. The Oaks is for the top three year old female Thoroughbreds in the country. This pre-Derby day, is all about the human ladies as well. From the Garland of Lilies given to the equine victor, to the “Oaks Lily” beverages sold in keepsake glasses, Churchill is adorned in pink. Everyone in attendance, even the men, are expected to be wearing some shade of pink.

Q1nl-exk8yQrQB4jwhCutN2xaVAqlN1EDuULOLxrd-4Derby day was one for the books. With another record breaking crowd, the Mint Juleps were flowing and millions were spent at the betting window. This was a hectic day at the NBC compound, with two late scratches and horses being pulled out of the race due to injury, many of pre-taped b-roll had to be reformatted to the developing stories. The expert team was able to pull it off before the Derby went to air.

-xPLGW-OqWpTpvOLaGiC3XQpDZa6eEdpCbbyWGeJE-oFinally it was race time. I was assigned to follow the 10 horse, Firing Line and his connections. All of the horses entered the paddock to be saddled for the race and the crowd seemed to amass around the favorites, chanting their names and snapping pictures. Many of the horses were unnerved by the volume of the crowd and got so wound up, they burnt all of their energy for the race by stressing out. The favorites, American Pharaoh and Dortmund, wore special earplugs to dampen the noise, and keep them calm.

“My Old Kentucky Home” played as the horses walked under the tunnel and onto the track. I got chills as the song ended and the crowd began cheering, as well as a wave of adrenaline. My camera man was on our target, the trainer and family of Firing Line and I had the magnificent “owners’ box” view on the edge of the track. The horses entered the starting gate and in two minutes years of work all came to fruition.

American Pharoah proved he was a champion by beating the best field of horses in over a decade. He earned the $1.24 million, and the iconic garland of roses, giving his owners their first Derby victory, after having their last three Derby horses run second best. Firing Line ran an incredible race, but tired toward the finish. His second place effort still earned him $400,000.

I then walked over the track to the winner’s circle to watch the crowning of American Pharoah and the trophy presentation. I’ve never seen a group of people so happy and so passionate about their horse and his accomplishment.


Just like that it was all over, the races that is. Spectators celebrated long into the wee hours of the morning and caught early flights home. The grooms tended to their tired athletes, giving them the love they rightly deserve for surviving the stimulating day. And the trainers and jockeys handled the onslaught of questions in press conferences.

PRLLqSmz9XGt9c02jdkVO5EWNb3AEASyzgto1DphOYoThis year’s Oaks and Derby were nothing short of amazing. I have been to many races around the country and nothing compares to Churchill Downs on Derby weekend. It is something I would encourage anyone and everyone to go to, even if you have no interest in horse racing. Culturally it is unlike anything one could experience on the West Coast. It is the Super Bowl of horse racing and is truly the most fun you can have in 48 hours.



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