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YUHSD, Go Ag partner for local agriculture tour

Yuma Union High School District staff members took part in a far-reaching tour of Yuma agriculture on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

In partnership with the Go Ag program, Arizona Western College and the University of Arizona, the tour allowed 26 teachers, counselors and administrators from all six YUHSD campuses and its district office to learn about the wide range of opportunities available to students in the agriculture industry following high school.

“It’s about educating students outside of high school so they can get a job,” said University of Arizona Yuma Regional Coordinator Tanya Hodges, who co-hosted the tour. “There are so many opportunities out there, especially in the sciences, and there is a need for us to grow our own.”

The tour started at the University of Arizona Agriculture center where the group learned about the impact that research and technology can have on local farmers and their crops. From there the group went to Bard, California to meet a harvesting crew working in a kale field and participated in the “Labor of Love” program, which is a “random act of kindness” by delivering lunch to the crew and thanking them for their hard work.The Labor of Love group poses with a harvesting crew.

The bus then traveled to the AWC campus to observe science classrooms, meet with staff members, and view the 10 acres of crops and greenhouses that students tend to as part of the school’s program. After lunch, which included locally grown vegetables as part of the Farm Fresh Forks initiative, the group heard a presentation about engineering at the University of Arizona as well as learned about the various majors related to agriculture that can be completed or nearly completed on the university’s Yuma campus.

The final two stops on the tour included observing lettuce and cabbage processing in action at Greengate Fresh and talking about the jobs available in the science of breeding seeds at American Takii.

“The tour was a phenomenal experience,” YUHSD Associate Superintendent Lisa Anderson said. “It was something that not only more educators need to see, but, really, everyone in the Yuma community would benefit from. Our campuses, and counselors, are infinitely more informed regarding opportunities for our students.”

The Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association oversees a variety of agriculture outreach programs which were included in the tour. The Go Ag program, Labor of Love and Farm Fresh Forks are all part of their initiatives to help highlight the Yuma area agriculture industry. Board President Steve Alameda talked with the group as they provided gifts and meals to a harvesting crew during the Labor of Love part of the tour.

"We were delighted to have the opportunity to share information with this group of educators because they are the key to sharing our message that we have very challenging and interesting careers available to students,” Alameda said. “These educators are on the front in line to reach the students and we are grateful for their participation and interest."

According to Go Ag’s website (, a report by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University projects that over 22,000 jobs in agriculture related fields may go unfilled every year through at least 2020. This is a great opportunity for smart, young people to start careers in a field that addresses some of the world's most pressing challenges. Go Ag is a regional campaign to educate our youth about the opportunities in agriculture, to raise awareness regarding the diversity within those opportunities and to increase enrollment in agriculture certificate and degree programs.

Eric Patten