The NAMA Experience

By James Broaddus
Sophomore, agricultural communication major, agribusiness minor

The Cal Poly National AgriMarketing Association (NAMA) Team recently returned to Cal Poly with a suitcase full of hardware, big smiles, and another National Championship.


Cal Poly has clinched nationals three out of the last four years under the guidance of advisor Dr. Linsey Higgins, a Cal Poly alumnus of the Agribuisness Department before earning her masters and PhD in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M. Higgins selected the team in November and meetings began the first week of December.

FavBricksThe seven-person team included (from left to right): Eleanor Harlan, an agribusiness senior from Woodland; Caitlin Stevenson, a agribusiness junior from Santa Maria; Blair Brooks, an agribusiness senior from Kelseyville; Shane Gillard, a graduating agribusiness senior from Atwater; James Broaddus (myself), an agricultural communication sophomore from Davis; Jenna Nichol, an agribusiness junior from Cottonwood; and Molly Gilmartin, a graduating agribusiness senior from Valencia.

The National Agri-Marketing Association runs the annual student competition giving three guidelines for products. First, the teams must use an agricultural product/commodity that demonstrates a clear objective of benefiting the producer. Secondly, the team must emphasize value-added differentiation using marketing techniques of an existing product/commodity, and finally the product/commodity must assume operation in an existing market with a primary objective of displacing major competitors to gain market share.

Cal Poly’s team then created Rise, a line of baking mix products that offer added protein, fiber, and antioxidants compared to traditional competitors. Rise hosted one special ingredient, grape pomace flour, which is the remaining seeds, stems, and leaves of grapes after being pressed into wine—roughly 18% of every grape—and then dried and ground for flour.


The team connected with experts at Jackson Family Wines in Sonoma, Calif. to write a five-page executive summary for launching the product into retail markets. Additionally, a twenty-minute presentation was prepared complemented with an in-depth slide deck.

After months of hard preparation in the library, the Cal Poly NAMA team boarded a plane to Dallas, Texas to compete against 29 schools from across the country. Following the morning preliminary round, the team moved into the semi-final round in the afternoon. That evening, my team was announced as being one of the top six teams slated for the final round. During the final presentation, the team’s hard work and collaboration shown through propelling Cal Poly to win another championship!


JamesWith all the time spent together, I would like to publically thank our advisor Dr. Higgins for her time, patience, and effort put forth to drive and motivate us as a team to be the very best. Congratulations on being awarded the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Science Advisor of the Year—it is well deserved.

To the rest of the team: it was an honor and a pleasure working with each and every one of you. I truly value all the long hours spent in the yellow lab of the library despite the late nights, by the end we turned into a real family.

The 20 minute presentation
Written plan
Video announcing the win 

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A Wrap for State FFA Finals

Provided by Caitlin Stanton and Tyler Dickinson, State FFA Communication chairs

On May 6, more than 2,000 Future Farmers of America (FFA) members from across California traveled to San Luis Obispo to compete at Cal Poly’s State FFA Judging Finals. Cal Poly is proud to have hosted this event for decades thanks to the support from students, staff and community members. With 21 different contests, FFA members compete in contests including agricultural mechanics, livestock judging to nursery landscape evaluation. All competitions are designed to equip students with skills in a particular career field.

For some FFA members, this was their first experience at State Finals — for others, this day represented the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication. Competitors aspire to leave Cal Poly with a silver bowl and the esteemed State Champion title. Winning teams will represent California in October, 2017 at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Every year, a hand-picked group of students from the Agricultural Education and Communication Department form the State FFA Finals Leadership Team. These individuals spend many hours coordinating with contest chairs, advisors, sponsors and many more. The 2017 State FFA Finals Leadership Team was comprised of the following individuals:

Kayla Manning, General Chair
Nikki Jorgenson and Katie Fernandes, Tabulations Chairs
Kenna Sandberg and Landon Sudberry, Awards Chairs
Veronica Lemus and Jerry Hansen, Sponsorship Chairs
Kacey Cadwell and Meagan Dunlap, Results & Finance Chairs
Caitlin Stanton and Tyler Dickinson, Communications Chairs
Trey Johnston and Denise Jameson, Logistics Chairs
Mackenzie Bressler, Emma Morris, Logan Johnston and Clayton Carlson, BBQ Chairs

In addition to the leadership team, student contest chairs and faculty advisors volunteered their time to organize each contest. This includes coordinating contest materials, finding volunteers and procuring judges.

State FFA Finals is fortunate to have amazing support throughout the community. For many years, local businesses including Farm Supply Company, Farm Credit West and JB Dewar Inc. provide a tri-tip lunch for all in attendance. Their support of FFA members from across California is greatly appreciated.

Congratulations to the 2017 State FFA Finals Champions!

Ag Issues

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Ag Issues

Ag Mechanics

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Ag MEch

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Ag MEch

Ag Welding

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Ag Welding

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Ag Welding


2017 State FFA Finals High Team Agronomy

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Agronomy

Dairy Cattle Evaluation

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Dairy Cattle

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Dairy Cattle

Dairy Products

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Milk Quality

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Milk Quality

Farm Business Management

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Farm Business Management

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Farm Bus Mgmt

Farm Records

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Farm Records AET

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Farm Records AET


2017 State FFA Finals High Team Floriculture

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Floriculture


2017 State FFA Finals High Team Forestry

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Forestry

Land Evaluation

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Land

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Land

Light Horse

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Light Horse

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Light Horse

Livestock Evaluation

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Land

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Land

High Team – Visalia-El Diamante FFA

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv MarketingMarketing Plan

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Marketing Plan


2017 State FFA Finals High Team Meats

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Meats

Nursery Landscape

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Nursery Landscape

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Nursery Landscape


2017 State FFA Finals High Team Poultry

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Poultry

Veterinary Science

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Vet Science

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Vet Science

Vegetable Crops

2017 State FFA Finals High Team Vegetable Crops

2017 State FFA Finals High Indiv Vegetable Crops

Best Informed Greenhand

High Team – Galt FFA

High Individual – Hannah Parker, Galt-Liberty Ranch FFA

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Cal Poly Equestrian Team Highlights

By Sarah Frushour
Senior, agricultural communication major, equine science minor

Do you know much about the Cal Poly Equestrian Team? The Cal Poly Equestrian Team is a completely student-run club. It encourages students of all riding levels to join from experienced winners to those who had horses in their dreams.

While the team provides opportunities for all equine enthusiasts, the Cal Poly Equestrian Team is also a show team. Both English and Western show teams are selected by tryouts at the beginning of each fall and winter quarter. The team competes on the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) circuit.

This was a great year for the Cal Poly Equestrian Team! Through hard work and determination, the Western team earned several High Point Team awards over the course of the season. After many shows, the team ended the regular season as the Regional Champion Western Team and earned a spot at IHSA Semi Finals in New York hosted by the State University of New York at Oswego on March 24-26, 2017.


CPETThe semi-finals show team included Madison Quintanar, Sarah Frushour (myself), Megan Borzone, Hailey Colgrove, Kathleen Mitchell, and Kat Campisi. Each team member competed in different classes earning points for the team. Madison represented Cal Poly in the Open Reining, myself in the Open Horsemanship, Megan in the Advanced Horsemanship, Hailey in the Novice Horsemanship, Kathleen in the Intermediate Horsemanship and Kat in the Beginning Horsemanship.

“Cal Poly has offered an amazing experience for me being on the Equestrian Team and it has really given me an opportunity to feel a sense of belonging, so being able to travel to compete representing Cal Poly was unreal,” said Quintanar, who qualified for the Open Reining to compete at the IHSA Nationals in May.

At the end of the three-day competition, the team earned sixth place out of eight teams from across the United States. The opportunity to compete at semi-finals would not have been possible without the support and guidance from the team’s coach Lou Moore. Lou Moore has been the team’s coach for three years, and has traveled with the team to just about every show since then.

IMG_0743I have been a part of the Cal Poly Equestrian Team for four years. I joined the team as a freshman because I wanted to continue participating in the sport I love and grow as an equestrian and an individual. Not only did the club provide experiences to grow in leadership and education, but I found what I, and many other team members would call a family. Representing Cal Poly at the IHSA Semi-Finals was a tremendous opportunity but I am thankful for are the memories and lessons I learned. I have watched the team grow and become more competitive since I started, and their future is bright.

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Dairy Challenge Competition

By Darby Toth
Senior, Dairy Science with an agricultural communication minor

For many students, the Dairy Challenge competition is considered the capstone of their time at Cal Poly. It’s a culmination of hands on skills, knowledge, and the ability to work on a team. Dairy Challenge not only allows students to utilize their practical skills, but brings them closer together as a student body within their Dairy Science major.  Enrolling in the DSCI-412 or “Dairy Farm Consultation” class equates to long Fridays spent traveling to dairy farms in the central valley and countless hours poring over dairy comp 305, the software that dairy farmers use to manage herd records.untitled-0044 (1)

This class and competition was great way to further immerse myself into the industry that I have grown up around. Surrounded by family in the dairy industry, I have had a lifelong passion for the understanding of the industry as well as a passion for advocating on the behalf of California dairies.

The Dairy Challenge competition itself is a three-day event which begins with the distribution of a dairy farm’s herd records and financial information. Students analyze the records and seek areas of opportunity to examine the next day on farm. The following morning the team travels to the competition dairy and spends time working together to analyze the farm. Students look at things such as cow comfort, overall herd health, milking procedures, and feed management.

IMG_0319 (1)

Frankie Gambonini and Cal Poly Aluni Mackenzie Gomes

Following the on farm evaluation, students have four hours to create a twenty-minute presentation outlining the overall dairy information and areas of opportunity for the dairy. The presentation is given to a panel of judges consisting of dairy industry professionals, followed by questions from the judges.

During winter quarter of this year, sixteen Cal Poly seniors enrolled in the dairy challenge class and drove to Twin Falls, Idaho with Mr. Rich Silacci and Dr. Julie Huzzey, the team coaches, to compete in the regional contest. The regional contest places students on aggregate teams with students from other universities in the western region. The trip included forty hours in a van, four hours stranded in a blizzard, and two full days of competition.  What an experience!


After the regional contest, the national team was chosen along with two students chosen to compete on aggregate teams. The Cal Poly team for this year’s national competition in Visalia, CA consisted of Katie Migliazzo, Frankie Gambonini, Marilyn Van Beek, and Bryson Wind. Elizabeth Russell and Emma Sills were the two aggregate team members. The Cal Poly team placed third in the competition, as did Elizabeth Russell and her aggregate team. Cal Poly students Emily Rosa, Emily Janowski, and I served as social media interns for the duration of the national contest.

IMG_9944 (1)

Looking back on my time spent in the class and competition, I have never been prouder to be a Cal Poly Mustang. My classmates around me pushed me to truly utilize all the skills that I have learned over my college career. The class taught skills that have allowed me to feel truly competent to enter the dairy industry following graduation, and created lasting relationships that will continue after Cal Poly!

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Impacts of Cal Poly Rodeo

By Katie Rice
Senior, agricultural communication major

Cal Poly Rodeo is considered to be “The Notre Dame of college rodeo.” Over the years the program has obtained more national titles than any other program in the nation. In 1939, the Cal Poly Rodeo program held the first intercollegiate rodeo in Victorville, California. In 1940, the first ever Cal Poly Rodeo was held with 4,000 spectators in attendance. Fast-forward to this past weekend, and the 77th annual Poly Royal Rodeo was held in the Alex G. Spanos Stadium. This event made a statement as the biggest college rodeo in history. The rodeo had a sold out crowd of over 11,000 people.

I became a part of the rodeo team the same time as our head coach, Ben Londo, took over the program. I witnessed this program grow, flourish, and gain support and attraction while under his guidance.

During his first year, there were a mere 18 students on the team. Today, our program is composed of around 65 students. A new pipe arena has been built, new pipe stalls implemented, ground has recently been broken on a livestock and hay barn, and the Milano Family endowment of $1 million has allowed for increased student scholarship support among many other things.

On the Saturday night of the Cal Poly Rodeo, I walked into the stadium with thousands of people surrounding the arena. It was in that moment I was able to look around, and reflect not only on the irreplaceable education Cal Poly has provided me with, but as well as the lessons and experiences of a lifetime I would have never gained without the competition, responsibilities, teammates and coach of this program.

Fellow senior and teammate AnnieRose Seifert explained, “The rodeo program is like having a second family. We take care of each other and cheer each other on both in and out of the arena.” While having 65 other students wanting you to succeed as badly as they want to themselves, our coach Ben and his wife, Becci, are always there to lend a helping hand as well.

Whether it is in the arena, the classroom, or life in general, coach Ben and Becci are there to pick us up when we fall down. They have displayed to all of us on the rodeo team what it means to be a loving and supportive family, which is one of the most important values we could take away from our four years at Cal Poly. These people and experiences are lessons, myself and my fellow teammates, will all carry with us for a lifetime as we leave Cal Poly this June. The Cal Poly Rodeo program is so much more than just a rodeo program.


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National Ag Day: Cal Poly Representation

Trent Baldwin
Junior, agribusiness major

To commemorate the 2017 National Ag Day, I flew out to our nation’s capital on Sunday, March 19th to join a hundred other college students representing 38 states. Sponsored by the Agriculture Council of America, National Ag Day intends to raise awareness of the importance of the agriculture industry in America and educate consumers on how their food is produced. The student representative program I was a part of aimed to put a face on agriculture for the legislators we met with on Capitol Hill, and to create a new wave of strong advocates for American agriculture. All students came as a part of a sponsoring organization, either FFA (Future Farmers of America), AFA (Agriculture Future of America), 4-H, or MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, or Related Sciences).

The event began at the National 4-H Center with a session to learn more about the policies which shape the agriculture industry. Students were split into groups along issue based lines, such as immigration and labor, trade, and animal agriculture. Each group had the opportunity to meet with a few staff members from the Hill to receive an insider’s perspective. In my particular group, crops-based agriculture, we met with members working with the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture and the US Rice Federation. The discussion focused on the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill and the new administration. Speaking with these professionals gave students the insight into what policies were affecting the industry now, and what they speculated would be implemented soon. Students then developed their advocacy skills by creating their own agricultural story, and learned how to craft an impactful message. The student representatives had all different backgrounds, from urban and rural, from producer families or not.

The next morning on Tuesday, March 21st, the official National Ag Day, all 100 students took on Capitol Hill to represent their home state agriculture industries. The delegation from California consisted of: Mackenzie Carvalho, an Oklahoma State University student originally from Maxwell who attended through AFA, Megan Daniels from Modesto Junior College who attended through California 4-H, Haley Warner from Cal Poly, SLO who attend through AFA and myself, Trent Baldwin attending through 4-H.

Ag Day

After our group pictures in front of the Capitol building, the group went to Senator Feinstein’s office in the Hart building. We were one of many groups meeting with her staff that day- the waiting room had to be extended into the hall. Eventually, we met up with Iain Hart, one of Senator Feinstein’s legislative correspondents. We discussed issues such as Farm Bill funding for research and extension programs, water issues in California, and legislation such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Hart reassured us that the Senator would always be a supporter of California agriculture and the specialty crops which make our state’s industry so unique to the country.

Next, we met at Representative Jeff Denham’s office in the Longworth Building. Denham’s district spans through parts of the San Joaquin valley region, including Turlock and Modesto. His office environment was friendly. We met with Tracey Chow, legislative assistant, and discussed Representative Denham’s views on immigration, the H2A visa program, and speculation towards the future of agriculture labor in California under the Trump Administration.

To top it off, all 100 students concluded for a pizza lunch in the Longworth building for a presentation on #AgDay365, a movement started by the American Agri-Women. After a quick lesson in social media advocacy and how to be an “agvocate” every day of the year, students said goodbye with long hugs, grabbed leftover pizza in true college fashion, and sprinted towards the bus that would take them back home.

Overall, the was a great opportunity. I am very thankful for this experience!

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26 Hours Event a Success

By Mika Mercado
Junior, agricultural communication major

For the past 26 years, Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) opens its doors to perspective students through a unique program called the 26 Hours Event. Over 80 high school sophomores and juniors attended the event. The program is provided by volunteer students with the Latinos in Agriculture club, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Flores. The two-day event is full of workshops and activities to engage students with hands-on experience of what Cal Poly and CAFES offers them.

Many of these students are minorities and of first-generation backgrounds. An advisor from All Tribes Charter High School in Valley Center, California, said this event helps give her grandsons an idea of university life and the educational opportunities available off the reservation. A Cal Poly alumna, she also commented on the increased diversity in the student population and how Cal Poly feels more welcoming for her grandsons from the reservation and other minority groups.

As for the 26 Hours event, Agriculture Ambassadors helped open the event with ice breakers to help get the students comfortable. Then, faculty all throughout the CAFES departments participated by putting on workshops which ranged from learning about sustainability in soil science with Dr. Chip Appel to animal reproduction with Dr. Fernando Campos-Chillon to robotics with Dr. Liu. Other workshops included solar energy and poultry.

Following the workshops, an open panel of Cal Poly students gave the visiting students an opportunity to ask questions ranging anywhere from college life, social life and financial aid. A fun final touch was learning how to to graft a tree and take it home.

The event was successful and hopefully some of these students from 26 Hours will be at Cal Poly in just a few years!


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