Business and Agriculture in Kenya

By: Jana Russell 

Junior agricultural science major

Jambo! (Hello!)

This July myself, ten other Cal Poly students, and two Cal Poly professors had the opportunity to travel to Kenya as part of Cal Poly’s extended education program. The purpose of our trip was to help develop the agricultural farm and propose a business plan for a children’s’ home in Kikuyu, Kenya.

Children of Hope (CoH) is an organization that helps orphaned, abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Kenya by providing them a home and supporting them educationally. CoH has one fully functioning home in Kitale and recently took over the management of a second home in Kikuyu. This site consists of three buildings that house the children, along with 55 acres of farm land and several guest cottages that the organization has been renting out for additional profits to support the children. One of the CoH organizers reached out to Cal Poly’s own President Armstrong and asked him if he would have some students who would want to come out and help develop a business plan and give recommendations on different aspects of the site.


Hiking Hell’s Gate National Park

When we arrived in Kikuyu, we were greeted by our amazing hosts at CoH. The first morning in Kenya we got a tour of all the facilities on site to determine what key areas we needed to focus on. Like mentioned earlier, the property included 55 acres of farm land, six guest cottages, and several barns that housed cows, chickens, and a couple of goats. There was also an empty barn that had housed pigs prior to the change in management.

Before heading to Kenya, our group had met with the two professors a couple times and somewhat split into the two separate tracks of the trip. Dr. Ashraf Tubeileh from the Horticulture and Crops department was the head of the agriculture group and Dr. Keri Schwab from the Experienced Industry Management department was the head of the business and tourism group.


Initial tour of the CoH property

Going into this trip, most of us were quite unsure of what we would actually be doing or how we would be spending our time there but looking back, I think that that was very beneficial because we had no expectations and were always flexible with changing plans. Most of our days were spent on site working on recommendations or around the town of Kikuyu, where we would tour different hotels or farms, depending on which track we were on. I began the trip working as part of the tourism track but soon took over the empty hog barn as my own personal project because I was one of the only ones with much experience in the swine industry.

When we were not working on site or taking small excursions to other sites for inspiration, we went on several amazing adventures during our time in Kenya. We went to a giraffe sanctuary, a baby elephant rescue center, a factory that employs single mothers to crafts beads and other ceramics, Hell’s Gate National Park, and my personal favorite, the World Championship Under 18 Track and Field meet in Nairobi.

Throughout the trip, we were learning the ins and outs of Kenyan culture and different agricultural practices, while also teaching the locals about our own culture and practices. One of the most memorable parts of the trip for me was on one of our side excursions to another local farm, I had the opportunity to teach several small-scale Kenyan farmers how to castrate piglets. Something as simple as piglet processing is a skill that arguably all swine industry members in the states know, however it is not very common in rural Kenya due to lack of resources and education.


Supporting Kenya at the World Championships

This trip has inspired me to look past the normal career path of my major and explore what I can do with what I have learned from Cal Poly. Although I know I still want to earn my masters in Agricultural Education and eventually teach back at my own high school, I now want to pursue international agriculture and teach those who do not have the same opportunities that we are lucky enough to have here in the states.

Asante sana Kenya! (Thank you very much Kenya!)

More pictures of the trip below.



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West Coast to East Coast: John Deere Internship

By: Chantal Herrera

Senior agricultural communication major

This summer I had the opportunity of traveling from California to Georgia as a Customer Product Support Intern for John Deere. My project included updating solution database spreadsheets to help our dealers solve issues in a more sufficient time. My other large project consisted of creating videos for our dealers on issues they might be having with our 5R series tractors. Coming from Cal Poly, whose motto is “Learn by Doing”, I was hoping to have an experience that involved just that.

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On my first day, I realized that I had set low expectations for my summer experience. Since my first day here, I was authorized to drive tractors around our factories, learned numerous parts of a tractor along with their function, and traveled to 12 different states!

As I get older I realize that my summers will no longer be carefree as they were when I was younger. Summers now include work and school, and if I am lucky I can squeeze in some fun. Although this summer I spent Monday through Friday working 40 hours a week and balancing two online classes, I still managed to have one of the best summers of my life. My internship experience has been one I will never forget.

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My favorite part of work is, if I am tired of sitting, I have the opportunity to step outside and test drive our tractors. How cool is that! I cannot express how great of a summer experience I’ve had so far with John Deere. Since I will be graduating in the winter of 2018, I am still eligible to return for another summer internship here if granted the opportunity; therefore, I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed. I have enjoyed my time here in the south. Everyone is just as sweet as the tea. I was able to share this experience with 12 other interns from across the United States. I created friendships that I know will continue when I return to California.

Saving the best for last, I had the opportunity to shake hands with Samuel R. Allen, the CEO of John Deere. Growing up in agriculture, I have always been accompanied by a John Deere tractor, whether it was out in the fields with the amazing commodities we have in California or at the ranch with my animals. From California to Georgia, I am thankful that I was still accompanied by a Deere.

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Ag Media Summit 2017

By: Chloe Fowler, Associate Editor of the Brock Center
Sophomore agricultural communication major with a minor in law and society

From July 22-26th, with four of my Cal Poly peers, we attended the Ag Media Summit (AMS) in Snowbird, Utah; ‘The Summit on the Summit’. Though I went into the event with a light amount of apprehension,  the conference proved extremely rewarding and gave myself and the other students in attendance, hope for a bright future.

Snowbird, Utah, located just outside of Salt Lake City, is high in elevation and typically a ski resort. The area hosts  many conferences in the summer due to its large amenities. The conference was a combination of groups including LPC (Livestock Publication Council), AAEA (American Agricultural Editors’ Association), and ACT (Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow), the nationally run student organization which Cal Poly’s ACT is an affiliate chapter.


Representing Cal Poly: L to R: Chloe Fowler, Roman Waskiewicz, Tatum Holdener, Tyler Manane, Madison Somerday, Dr. J. Scott Vernon

The conference sessions were provided by professionals teaching tips and tricks of software and design programs (InDesign, Illustrator, etc.). In addition, there were sessions on how to take appropriate pictures for stories and approach controversial subjects within the agricultural industry. These sessions were not just for the college ACT members; as a college student I sat right next to the professionals learning the same tools of the agriculture journalism industry.

There was also an InfoExpo displaying agricultural companies across the country and the roles they fulfill within the industry. As college students, we were able to walk around discussing internship and career opportunities with each of these companies.

While there, we were honored to hear from Amberley Snyder, a nationally ranked barrel racer and break away champion. She spoke to us about her most difficult obstacles in her life, how she succeeded and what we could do to prosper as well. She shared about learning to ride and compete at a high level after a paralyzing car accident from the waist down at age 18, she showed us how we all have to “draw out of the bag of life, and don’t really have a choice on what we draw out, good or bad.” Her evident joy and spark for life was invigorating and left us all with a fresh perspective on life. She reminded us our attitude is typically the only thing we can control in a situation, so we better make it a good one!

Other ACT members came from all over the nation, including Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Indiana attended AMS as well. As Cal Poly students we were able to build a relationships with our future colleagues from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. While they are Boiler Makers, and we are Mustangs, we all got along well and can now say we have friends all across the country.


AMS was an opportunity I will never forget and hope all students have an opportunity like this to build their careers and networks beyond their homes and college towns. I hope to attend next year as it will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, and encourage any student or professional in the agricultural communications career to take advantage of the established conference.

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The Value of Networking: CalAgJobs Internship

By: Kayla Copus
Junior agricultural communications major with a minor in agribusiness

For the past year, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work as the Communications Intern for CalAgJobs, a company that connects employers and job seekers in California agriculture. Having a year-long internship is rare, however, this experience has taught me so many of the skills needed by an agricultural communicator.

While CalAgJobs is located in Orland, California, I am able to work remotely during the school year using a computer to complete my responsibilities. Having an internship with CalAgJobs that continues during the school year can be stressful at busy times. However, I know I am better for it because it has allowed me to take the skills I have learned in two years of classes at Cal Poly and apply them immediately in real-life situations.


At the California State FFA Career Fair

As the Communications Intern, one of my main responsibilities is assisting in managing the CalAgJobs Facebook Page. I check the CalAgJobs website daily for new job and internship listings to post and advertise to our Facebook. I also search for online agriculture articles that are relevant to our followers.

As CalAgJobs’ first intern, I started a blog on its website geared toward college students and young professionals looking to enter the agriculture industry. To get content and add credibility to the blog, I interview career and industry professionals in agriculture. The people I interviewed range from marketing directors, fair managers, to agriculture career counselors. As former interns and current agriculture professionals, these interviewees offer information, inspiration, and advice to our readers about internships and careers in agriculture.

Other tasks I perform include writing press releases, designing agricultural or inspirational memes for social media use, and sending outreach emails and postcards to potential clients who are looking to fill job or internship roles in California agriculture.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my internship is participating in special projects and attending agriculture events. For National FFA Week, I assisted in the research of the 400+ crops grown in California to be featured on the “We Grow It All in California” t-shirt and then helped sell them at World Ag Expo. I attended the California State FFA Convention where I helped at the FFA Alumni Reception and the CalAgJobs booth at the career fair. These experiences have helped me develop my oral communication and agriculture advocacy skills that I don’t usually exercise every day.Kayla1

Of all the invaluable skills I have gained by interning for CalAgJobs, networking has to be the most important and most prominent one I have utilized. Whether I’m interviewing for the blog, meeting FFA alumni, or learning from my mentors at CalAgJobs, I am networking with people daily. I have been told many times by those in agriculture, “It’s a small world in agriculture, and it’s more about who you know than what you know.”

Thankfully, I have an internship that has developed both what I know and who I know to carry me into my future career in agricultural communications.


With my high school agriculture teachers



My mentors, Shannon Douglass and Miranda Driver, at the FFA Alumni Reception



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Hilmar Cheese Internship

By: Hannah Brady

Junior agribusiness major

My name is Hannah Brady and I am a third-year Agribusiness major at Cal Poly.  I am from Linden, California – a town even smaller than Hilmar, California!  My summer internship is with Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc. which is located in Hilmar, California – just outside of Turlock, California. The company began in 1984 with 12 central California dairy families seeking to maximize the value of their Jersey cows.

For my internship, I have been assigned to the Cheese Research and Development Department.  It is a great experience to be learning something not specifically in the studies of my major; however, come to find out the Sales Department works closely with the department I am currently working in for the summer (which is an area I am particularly interested in).20170721_103845 (1)

While working in the Cheese Research and Development Department, I have had the opportunity to experience the cheese making process. Also, seeing first-hand the science behind the making of cheese and all of the other little components which, before this summer, I did not know existed.  I have been assigned the tasks of running tests, collecting data, and writing reports for various projects.

The positive experiences I am making here at Hilmar Cheese Company are ones I will take with me and will never forget.  Here at Hilmar Cheese, the company strives to have open doors and create a positive environment for their hundreds of employees. Integrity is the top priority of the company as well as teamwork, relationships, excellence, and improvement. This shows where the company is, where they want to go, and how they achieve their goals.

Fun fact: 1 in 5 pounds of natural American cheese is made at either the Hilmar Cheese plant in California or at their Dalhart plant in Texas.


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An Internship Dream Come True for this Jimmy Buffett Fan

By: James Broaddus
Junior agricultural communication major with minors in agribusiness and agricultural education

“Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville, searching for my lost shaker of salt…”

Jimmy Buffett’s cult classic song “Margaritaville” is the highest grossing song of all time, more valuable than “Happy Birthday”. This value is not only due to the popularity of the song itself, but of Buffett’s company: Margaritaville.

The Margaritaville brand is viewed with awe by the other Buffett, Warren. He has spoken favorably about the pure genius of his non-related surname sharing genius. Margaritaville’s brand licensed name is seen in a wide range of vendors including restaurants, resorts, cruise lines, retirement facilities, clothing, and shoe lines. The brand provides a marketing strategy to strive for success.

Now, why would a blog for the Brock Center be about Margaritaville? I mean that truly seems like a stretch… Well, let me tell you!

For my entire life, I grew up a Parrothead, the self-proclaimed title by Buffett fans around the world. My youngest memories are wearing colorful handcuff bracelets with Buffett records playing in the truck as my dad drove all across California or in the house spending time with my mom and sister.  Jimmy Buffett and the Margaritaville Radio station truly became the soundtrack for the entire Broaddus family (and most of our extended family). From concerts to meals, from vinyl to iTunes, it played everywhere.IMG_0274

That brings me to late October 2016, a few days before attending my fifth Buffett concert in Sacramento, California, (and even dragging a few Poly friends who were unenlightened about the man, myth, and legend). Reading through the Margaritaville blog, I saw an article about something called Margaritaville University, a college student outreach program through the company’s marketing team. As a member of the Cal Poly 2017 National Champion NAMA Team, a little more exposure to marketing AND my favorite singer seemed like an ideal opportunity!

One application and an hour plus interview later, I was invited to join a group of about 150 college students spanning over 130 campuses as a Fall 2017 Margaritaville College Ambassador. While connecting with my fellow ambassadors and marketing team overseers alike, I quickly learned I was not alone in my rabid fandom of the brand!

After a few months of completing challenges (ranging from photography with brand items to promoting coupon codes for the online store) I received an email that I had been selected for a trip to the Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, Florida, to join in on the Margaritaville College Ambassador Roundtable. Myself, along with my fellow six ambassadors, were the top seven students in the program representing the varying regions of the country (though I was the only one west of the Rockies).

The trip to Florida proved to be one of the most exciting adventures I have encountered. My flights took me from Sacramento to Dallas to Fort Lauderdale and I arrived in the wee hours of the morning. From the first moments on Florida ground, the trip proved eventful, with Miami being the biggest recommendation for dinner from my Uber driver (I’ve seen Burn Notice and CSI: Miami a few too many times for that to even be a consideration…..)

From meetings in the boardroom to tropical Cabanas on the sandy beaches of the Atlantic, the entire trip proved to be not only fun but a strong educational experience. Discussions of future marketing strategies and long-term company plans occurred in all parts of the trip, even final thoughts emailed from the plane ride home.

What can I say, a professional trip to paradise isn’t half-bad.

Fins Up and Go Mustangs!

Check out a great recap video and pictures from my trip.


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Welcome New Team Brock!

The Brock Center is a prime example of Cal Poly’s motto – Learn By Doing.
It has given us (Annie, Mary, Emma, and myself) valuable hands on experience through editing stories, designing layouts, taking photography, maintaining social media accounts and networking with industry professionals.

Brock 3Over the course of the year, we learned how important is it to effectively and accurately communicate the message of agriculture to consumers. The Brock Center made us all more certain we would like to pursue a career in agricultural communications.

It’s been incredibly rewarding seeing the Brock Center grow through our magazines, blogs and social media. We are so thankful to our director, Megan Silcott, for all the time, energy, and expertise she has shared with us. We are excited to see where the new team takes Brock Center!

~Samantha Wallace, Editor-in-Chief 2016-2017

Please help us in welcoming the new 2017-2018 Brock Center Team!!!


EmmaName: Emma Morris
Hometown: Etna, CA
Major: Agricultural Communication
Year: Upcoming Senior
Position: Editor-in-Chief

Describe your agricultural background?I was born and raised as the sixth generation on my family’s ranch in Northern California. Agriculture has always been a big part of my life—I was in 4-H for 10 years and in FFA for four years, and hope to continue my career in agriculture as a lawyer.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done at Cal Poly?
I’ve loved getting more involved in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) and capitalizing on the endless opportunities it offers.

What is your favorite social media platform?
I love Instagram because I think photos are a powerful and effective way to share your story.

What are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy being outdoors, reading, and listening to music.

What are you looking forward to most joining the Brock Center Team?
I’m excited to be a part of the new team and to develop more design skills.

Elise Regusci Name: Elise Regusci
Home town: Modesto, California
Major: Dairy Science with a minor in Agricultural Communications
Year: Incoming Junior
Position: Associate Editor and Blog Manage

Describe your agricultural background
I was raised on my parent’s farm in Modesto, California with my twin sister Elisabeth and brother John Paul. My family farms a variety of crops including corn, almonds, walnuts, hay, beans, and pumpkins. I was involved in 4-H and FFA during my youth. My love for agriculture blossomed when I began showing Brown Swiss dairy cattle when I was 9 years old at local shows, the California State Fair, and the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. I plan to pursue a career in public relations/ communications in agriculture after graduation and eventually start a Brown Swiss and Holstein dairy with my brother and sister.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done at Cal Poly?
Becoming a member of the Dairy Judging team has been the best decision I have made here at Cal Poly. Not only have I learned how to evaluate dairy cattle more precisely, but I have grown in confidence and decision making. Traveling across the country with my team to compete at contests and practice at farms has opened my eyes to the nation’s dairy industry.

What is your favorite social media platform?
Facebook is my favorite type of social media because it is easy to use in sharing articles and links compared to Instagram. However, Instagram is great for photography and infographics.

What are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy traveling, showing my Brown Swiss cows, and spending time with friends and family.

What are you looking forward to most joining the Brock Center Team?
I am excited to work in editing and publishing blogs as well as to get more students involved in writing for the Brock Center. I am excited in being a part of this great team and learning more about communicating for agriculture.


Image 5-15-17 at 12.49 PMName: Chloe Fowler
 Home town: Ono, CA
Major: Agricultural Communications, Minor in Law and Society
Year: Incoming Sophomore
Position: Associate Editor

Describe your agricultural background
I am a seventh generation cattle rancher and have raised homegrown steers for the local fair for eight years. Being involved in both 4-H and FFA, I held many officer positions in 4-H and FFA including Treasurer, Vice President and President for my FFA chapter. In 2015, I was the Shasta County Beef Princess and became the Beef Ambassador in 2016. Here at Cal Poly, I have been active in Ag Ambassadors, Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and other clubs. This upcoming year I will be the Secretary for Ag Ambassadors and the Ag Counsel Representative for the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done at Cal Poly?
At Cal Poly, I have enjoyed making new friends who have a passion for agricultural, as well as those who don’t. A highlight was attending the World Ag Expo with the Ag Ambassadors club.  This club also had a beach bonfire which allowed me to bond more with the other students while playing games and eating amazing food.

What is your favorite social media platform?
I enjoy Instagram because of the visual level it brings to the viewer. However,  from a professional standpoint I prefer Facebook because it is more accessible to every audience, not just millennials.

What are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy hunting, fishing, exploring, public speaking and watching sports.

What are you looking forward to most joining the Brock Center Team? I am looking forward to bettering my editing skills as well as furthering my knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop and other Adobe products. I also look forward to gaining more of an eye for design.


IMG_0500.JPGName: Felipe (Phillip) Vallejo
Home town: Chowchilla, California
Major: Agricultural Science
Year: Incoming Sophomore
Position: Brock Associate

Describe your agricultural background
I grew up in an agricultural based town in the central valley. In high school, I got involved with FFA and my interest for agriculture sparked. From there I raised and showed market hogs at the local fairs, competed in judging and speaking events and also served as an officer for three years in the FFA

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done at Cal Poly?
My favorite thing that I have done so far has been getting involved with clubs inside of CAFES. This year, I got involved with Latinos in Agriculture and Ag Ambassadors.

What is your favorite social media platform?
My favorite social media platform is Instagram and Twitter. For me, Instagram is a nice way to visually keep up with friends and family. I love seeing the creativity troughout my feed from all kinds of people. I also like Twitter because of the funny content as well as a way I stay informed about some current events.

What are your favorite hobbies?
Hammocking, going to the beach, bonfires, camping, and hanging with friends.

What are you looking forward to most joining the Brock Center Team?
I look forward to managing the Brock Center Facebook page as well as  applying and developing skills in editing and design. I also look forward to creating a bond with the other Associates and promoting agriculture through the Ag Circle magazine.

Scott.JPGName: Scott Middlecamp
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA
Major: Journalism
Year: Fourth year transfer
Position: Associate Videographer, Social Media

Describe your agricultural background?
My family has a ranching history on both sides dating back five generations. One of the those farms is in San Luis Obispo which I have worked on my whole life. We raise meat cattle and have orchards of apples, oranges, lemons, persimmons, avocados, limes and more. However, now our main export is olive oil, which we used to hand-press and now process locally. Look for it at Saturday morning Farmer’s Markets!

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done at Cal Poly?
My favorite thing that I’ve done is get accepted to Cal Poly as a transfer student. I went to community college for longer than it takes the majority of students to get a degree at a four-year university so I was very happy to take the next step in my academic career.

What is your favorite social media platform?
Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform (outside of Twitter for work) due to its versatility. It allows people to post stills and video, as well as write a caption that describes what the post is about. That caption can be so many things, informative, funny, one sentence or several paragraphs. The Story function just adds another way to share and connect on this versatile platform.

What are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy photography, hiking and trying to find new vintage t-shirts in thirft stores.

What are you looking forward to most joining the Brock Center Team?
I am looking forward to growing and developing my video skills, as well as increasing the Brock Center’s audience engagement on Instagram.


Name: Nathan Brickman
Hometown: Lafayette, CA
Major: Agricultural Communication
Year: First year
Position: Associate Videographer

Describe your agricultural background?
I grew up far from agriculture but was always fascinated with where my food came from. I did work for a cattle rancher for a summer but other than that, I love good food and have developed an appreciation for those people who help bring it to our plates.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done at Cal Poly?
Watching the sunset at some of the peaks around campus.

What is your favorite social media platform?
I like Vimeo because there are some great films on there.

What are your favorite hobbies?
It’s a long list, but some include surfing, fishing, eating, playing guitar and surfing.

What are you looking forward to most joining the Brock Center Team
Being behind the camera and becoming a better listener.

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