The 2015-2016 school year has brought tremendous growth to the FARMS Leadership Program
and I am excited to share our achievements with you.
More than 300 students from seven regions throughout California are learning about California's food system while practicing leadership skills and exploring career and college opportunities in the fields of agriculture, food, and environmental sciences. Through hands-on field days and working side-by-side with industry partners, students are learning about the people and careers involved in providing the necessities we enjoy every day.
This year the FARMS Leadership Program has expanded in Fresno and Kern counties. With generous support from Rabobank, Fresno FARMS Leadership added a third track this year. The Fresno County program now serves over 90 students from 15 schools. Additionally, a brand new FARMS Leadership program has been started in Kern County that includes 32 students from six schools, with that program site expected to expand again in the 16/17 school year.
Students who have completed FARMS Leadership in the Fresno region have the opportunity to participate in the FARMS Leadership Advanced Program. The purpose of this program is to provide an opportunity for students to gain more experience and knowledge about the issues farmers face everyday in agriculture. Through the process, students will learn and practice essential skills to help prepare them for the workforce. This year Paul Betancourt of VF Farms has given students a real-life agricultural industry issue to learn about. Students will work with him and other industry professionals to create a proposal for a solution to the question, "What is the optimum cropping pattern for the most efficient and economical use of water?" They have been collecting data such as soil samples, water quality and well output, analyzing average precipitation/snowpack and climate considerations to develop their recommended solution. They are exploring the many people and careers involved in coming up with a cropping plan for an orchard and gaining skills while preparing to present their findings and proposal to the farmer.
Lastly, we are preparing to launch a pilot job training and entrepreneurship development course for youth ages 18-24, living in rural communities in the greater Sacramento and Fresno regions. The Central Valley Youth Employment Program
will help prepare and train young adults for jobs in the agriculture industry and provide support for entrepreneurs. This program was made possible through a grant from Wells Fargo.
The future of FARMS Leadership is bright and I am excited to continue growing these programs throughout the state. As we build a continuum of experiences for youth from career awareness, to career exploration, to job readiness and training, I am confident that FARMS Leadership alumni will leave our program as advocates for agriculture and ready for a career in agriculture.
Our supporters and partners who open their doors to our programs and help provide very unique opportunities for our students are the backbone of FARMS Leadership. Please see our website to read about who students are visiting and what they are doing on field days across the state: landbasedlearning.org/farms