Expanding Horizons

By Mary Allen
Agriculture Communication major with a Agribusiness minor

A plethora of new information, tall buildings, and business professional dress are some ways to describe the beginning of my internship experience with the California Rice Commission (CRC) in Sacramento, California.  As the first intern to not come from a rice farming background, I had a lot of learning to do. DuDSC_0978ring the first couple of weeks, I really enjoyed absorbing how rice is grown, farmed, and harvested. It’s an amazing process. I’m officially a rice fan for life!


During my eight-week internship, I will shadow each of the CRC staff members for two weeks in order to better understand the rice industry. Their areas of specialty include pesticide regulations, environmental programs, communications strategies, and policy influence.

Learning about pesticide regulations opened my eyes to the complexity and importance of purposeful regulations and registration through the Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). I even got a picture with the Director of DPR, the President of Western Plant Health Association, and George Soares, a well-respected attorney for many agriculture agencies!


During my week with Jim Morris, the Communications Manager for CRC, we met several professionals including photographers, videographers, agriculture journalists, social media specialists and media designers. Jim keeps busy by planning, delegating, and organizing 11 postings a day on the CRC’s social media platforms. I learned tips and tricks of social media in and out of the field. He also manages media content for two CRC website, CalRice.org and CalRiceNews.org, which is a full time job. With over 550,000 acres of rice grown in the Sacramento Valley, Jim is in charge of the Sacramento Valley news and media platforms. Learning how to represent all commodity groups in the Sacramento Valley was also very interesting.  I was reminded of the importance of keeping a common brand and message in communication. Jim repeatedly said, “Surround yourself with good people, and you will accomplish your goals.”  On the communications side, part of my duties as an intern is writing a weekly blog, contributing to social media with my photos, and completing any other writing needs.

Tim Johnson, the CEO & President of CRC, explained the structural difference between commissions like CRC, and trade organizations such as Citrus Mutual. Both groups require particular leadership and management. Understanding how to achieve the most from your staff by providing incentives and guidelines are techniques I can use in school and beyond.

So many new experiences I never dreamed of happen on a daily basis.  Whether it’s having dinner with a State Assemblyman and prominent agriculture leaders, meeting agriculturalists from France through The California Agriculture Leadership Program or touring a rice research station. I am so thankful for this opportunity of a lifetime to be immersed in the rice industry, which is such a great example in the agriculture. I look forward to learning more before the completion of my internship to help prepare me for my future career and continue to expand my horizons.

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Looking forward to it all!

By Annie Hamilton
Ag. Communication Major

I have always admired the Harvey Lyman Company in Walnut Grove, California because of the great employees who are always so supportive of different youth organizations. When I heard of the opportunity to be the marketing intern at The Tremont / Lyman Groups headquarters in Woodland, California, I jumped on it. And I’m so glad I did!

From the moment I started, everyone has been nothing but welcoming which makes me look forward to work every day.  It is such an incredible feeling to want to get up early in the morning for work because I love what I am doing and the people I’m around.

In 2012, my brother graduated from Cal Poly and the former CFO of Apple Inc, Peter Oppenheimer, gave the commencement address. The best advice he gave to the graduates was the importance of a good mentor at work. As I reflect on this, I feel so fortunate for the many great mentors teaching me this summer. Now I fully understand what Oppenheimer said that day.

I love sitting down with people who have worked with the company for 40+ years and hearing the history of the industry, particularly the side stories of how they are where they are today. The Tremont / Lyman Groups has many unique stories of people who manage the different divisions successful that makes the company stand out. For example, some of the division locations like the Harvey Lyman Group and Growers Ag in Dixon, California are still a family run businesses.

Annie in Action
This summer one of the company’s overall goals is to expand the photo library at the different divisions to showcase the variety of operations happening at each location.  To complete part of this task, I had the incredible opportunity to fly with Les Lyman, the CEO, and Julie Newton, my boss, to take aerial photos of the different properties. Wow, that was amazing! Seeing the different divisions from the sky was such an awesome experience and I was so lucky to be able to be a part of it. This is just one of the many different tasks I have and will be doing this summer.  I look forward to it all!

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East of Eden

By Arielle Dubowe
Ag. Communications Major
Sunset over Bell Peppers 

This summer, I decided to do something different in terms of expanding my food knowledge and career. Instead of working in a corporate office in a city somewhere, I chose to do marketing work for W.D. Henry & Sons Farm, an organic farm located in Eden Valley in Buffalo, New York. Yes, I took a risk, considering my lack of a farming background (or a background involving any dirt at all). Yes, I may go to Cal Poly, one of the top agricultural schools in the country, if not, the world. However, it cannot compare to the invaluable experience of living on a 350+ acre farm in operation since 1888.

Not only do I get to live on the farm, interact with farmers, and fully immerse myself in the farm world, I also get to make sure W.D. Henry & Sons Farm stays in business for a long time. The farm, like most farms across the nation, is trying to keep up with the times by using marketing strategies such as having a strong online presence and recognizing the buying power of millennials.

Floral Greenhouses

Part of my internship is finding the best direct marketing practices to insure that there will never be a shortage of customers. My biggest responsibility lies with the farm’s flower business, which is their main production. Before coming here, I barely knew anything about flower marketing trends and what’s hot right now, but that’s the exciting part—I get to constantly learn while being on the farm.

Regardless of my lack of farming experience, I do not lack the passion of acquiring knowledge in the food and agriculture world. That’s why I’m spending the summer on a farm because I sought out answers. And perspective, too—that’s an important one. How can I work in the corporate food world when I lack the perspective of the very person who grows the food in the first place? People should be knowledgeable about their own jobs, especially people in the food industry. If my dream is to work for Starbucks or Trader Joe’s, how can I make it come true when my face is turned away from the life-sustaining fields, the farmers, and the sun?

Being from the city should not be my excuse for not learning about the farming world. In fact, it is the reason why I should immerse myself into the farm lifestyle and culture. While the city taught me so much, including cultivating my “foodie” personality, it’s only one perspective. I need various perspectives in order to be a more honest, passionate, and knowledgeable food advocate as I pursue my career dreams.

So her’s to a summer full of risks, perspective, passion, and fresh sweet corn which will make my knee’s go weak.

Sweet Corn in the Making!
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The Power of Women in Agriculture: CWA Internship 

By Samantha Wallace
Ag. Communications Major

There are countless things I love about California Women for Agriculture (CWA). The members of this organization are go-getters, determined and have a true passion for promoting the agricultural industry. With 20 chapters and 2,000 plus members across the state, the members are actively engaged in public relations, education and legislative advocacy on behalf of agriculture. This summer, I am privileged to intern with San Luis Obispo County Chapter who proudly serves San Luis Obispo, Southern Monterey and Western Kern Counties.

In the short time I’ve been interning with CWA, the meetings have allowed me to see a glimpse of the heart and soul of this organization and I’m thrilled to be working alongside these influential women who are paving the way for a better future.

For those not as familiar with CWA, the organization’s mission is to “promote and protect the agricultural industry, promote and develop the interest of California women involved or interested in agriculture.”

CWA’s efforts are guided by 5 objectives:

CWA1) To speak on behalf of agriculture in an intelligent, informative, direct and truthful manner

2) To keep CWA members informed on legislative activities pertaining to agriculture

3) To join forces when the need arises to deal with agricultural issues and challenges

4) To improve the public image of farmers

5) To develop a rapport with consumers, educators, and governmental & business leaders in communities throughout the county and outlying areas

SLO CWA plays an important role in being a part of the bigger agriculture picture in California Agriculture (CaWomen4Ag).

My Responsibility

As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation is educated and encouraged to step up to the challenges in today’s agriculture industry. A way that CWA supports the next generation, is by hosting the annual Burgers & BREW festival each fall.

The profits from ticket sales, donations and silent auction go towards scholarships for students in 4-H, FFA and collegiate agricultural scholarships. In 2015, the event raised $10,000 for scholarship endowments. The expectation is to double profits in 2016.


2015 Scholarship Recipients


This worthwhile family event takes place on September 4th at the Loading Chute in Creston, CA. Approximately 275 local vendors showcase their tastiest burgers, beer and brew in hopes of being voted “The First Place Winner of Burgers & BREWS 2016”.


First 2016 Burgers & BREWS event meeting

Special committees have been formed to ensure that this event runs smoothly. The CWA has been gracious enough to put me as Lead Creative Director. This position puts me in charge of designing flyers, event programs, and managing social media platforms. For these tasks, I use the InDesign skills I learned in AGC 407 publications class at Cal Poly. The amount of responsibility and trust granted to me is humbling and I don’t take it lightly.

The Burgers & BREWS festival and competition is a rewarding event and I know that my time will be a summer well spent. With much work to be done, I am thrilled to see what this internship has in store!

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It’s officially Summer!

With the official start of summer, many Cal Poly  students are busy interning within the agriculture industry across the country. Cal Poly’s Ag Education and Communications Department encourages their students to “Learn by Doing” in the summer by gaining experience in industry.

During the summer, the brock center will showcase some of these interns who will write about their internship experience and more.

Stay tuned…

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Meet the Newest Members of #TeamBrock

With the current team graduating, it’s time to introduce the four new Associates joining the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. They will be taking over production of Ag Circle magazine, the Brock Center’s social media channels and the Brock Center Blog this summer.

Let’s meet the team.

Editor-in-Chief: Samantha Wallace, 3rd year, Wheatland, CA

Growing up on a diverse livestock farm, Samantha was an active member in FFA, serving as her chapter’s Vice President for two years. She also showed lambs and bred heifers and steers. Outside of FFA, Samantha competed in rodeos for nearly 10 years, competing in SAMbarrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping. After high school, she took a rodeo scholarship, traveling all over the Midwest. Her junior year of college, she transferred to Cal Poly, getting involved in clubs and the agricultural communication department.

Sam’s favorite social media platform is Instagram, as she’s a visual person and says “there is nothing better than a picture to tell a story.” Her hobbies include riding quarter horses, CrossFit, hiking, painting, hunting and fishing.

As Editor-in-Chief, Sam is most excited about “positively leading other to create new and exciting material for Ag Circle.” She is also thrilled to start editing, assisting with graphic design and using social media to promote the magazine. Her ultimate goal is to earn another first place title for Magazine Production in the National ACT Critique & Contest.

Lead Graphic Designer & Associate: Annie Hamilton, 3rd year, Rio Vista, CA

Annie is from a fifth generation farming family from the California Delta, growing row crops, sheep and cattle. For ten years, Annie was an active member of her 4-H chapter, serving as secretary and annually raising market steer projects for two local fairs. This pastANNIE summer, Annie worked on the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant and will be interning for TremontAg in their marketing department this summer.

Annie’s favorite social media platform is Facebook because it’s easy to keep in touch with people. However, she greatly appreciates Instagram for being simple and fun to look at. Her hobbies include painting, boating, traveling and being on the delta.

As our lead designer, Annie will be carrying out her vision for the look of the magazine starting in fall quarter. Annie is very interested in art and has a keen eye for design.

Associate: Mary Allen, 3rd year, San Luis Obispo

After Mary’s family moved to a property with land at the age of nine, her family bought horses and she joined 4-H. In 4-H, Mary raised, lambs, pigs, heifers and steers. 4-H is where Mary grew to love agriculture, holding leadership positions and learning about the industry. Since coming to Cal Poly, Mary has ben very involved in Open House, saying co-chairing the Ag Pavilion committee one of her favorite experiences since coming to school.

MARYMary’s favorite social media platform is Facebook because she said “it has a broad spectrum of opinions to reach your audience.” Some of Mary’s favorite hobbies include horseback riding, competing in triathlons, volunteering at Church and spending her free time with family and friends.

Mary is looking forward to taking the skills she has learned in her classes and applying them to Ag Circle and the Brock Center. She wants “real world” work experience and she said she’s excited to work with a talented team and produce wonderful issues of Ag Circle.

Associate: Emma Morris, 2nd year, Etna, California

Emma comes from a ranch in Norther California, where her family dates back six generations. The ranch raises cattle, sheep, and horses and grows alfalfa, wheat, orchard grass and sunflowers. She is also an adventurer and called her PolyEscapes trip to Yosemite National park her favorite experience so far at Cal Poly, checking off a big part of her Poly bucket list. She also enjoys watching and playing sports, being outdoors and hanging in her hammock.EMMA

Emma’s favorite social media platform is Instagram, saying “I subscribe to the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words and I think the fact that Instagram is all pictures makes it a powerful sharing platform.”

When she joins the Brock team this fall, Emma is looking forward to improving her editing skills, learning more about design and helping with the Brock Center’s social media.


The current team at the Brock Center is very excited to see what the new team will bring to the table and we wish the new #TeamBrock the best of luck!




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Tour De Agriculture

By Hannah Fortin

IMG_3462I recently spent a week traveling around California with a group of students from universities in California and Switzerland developing a knowledge of the challenges that face the food system on a state and global scale. We attended this trip with the intention of working towards innovative solutions.


I had no idea what to expect as I began this experience, but after having the chance to reflect, I know any expectations I could have had were met and exceeded. Not only were we exposed to some of the leaders for change regarding the way we think about food and the future, but we had the unique opportunity to have our ideas of what we saw augmented by the brilliant and diverse minds of students with an entirely different perspective on our processes and our nation.


It is difficult to choose a favorite portion of the tour, but for me, the most thought-provoking conversations stemmed from our experiences visiting startup incubators, particularly Indie Bio. We were all fascinated by the technological and scientific advancement ideas that the people there were working to develop. From improving drought-tolerant vegetation to creating a plant-based, flattening-resistant latte foam, we were able to analyze the huge differences these individuals’ work could make just by starting out with small challenges that they saw. After we heard from these innovators, we were asked to spend a few minutes working on our own solutions to the problems that we had seen in the food system during the week. In a small amount of time, we were able to come up with a large variety of technological or legislative methods to address challenges not only in the United States or Switzerland, but globally. It really gave me hope for the future of agriculture and humanity.


I am truly thankful for the people at ETH Global, UC Davis, the Mixing Bowl Hub, and other partnering organizations for enabling us to have our minds expanded and take steps toward change. I am grateful for their part in our academic and cultural education. To learn  more about each place we visited, see the blog posts each of the attendees wrote on foodsystemstories.com.


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