YUHSD takes multi-stop agriculture tour with Go Ag
Yuma Union High School District staff members from all campuses and the district office took part in a far-reaching tour of the Yuma agriculture industry on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
In partnership with the Go Ag program, Arizona Western College, and the University of Arizona, Yuma, the tour gave 31 teachers, counselors and administrators an opportunity to understand what the Yuma agriculture community looks like and learn about the wide range of opportunities available to students in the agriculture industry following high school. It is the second time Go Ag and YUHSD have partnered on such a tour.
“It was such an amazing day,” YUHSD Superintendent Gina Thompson said. “I feel so proud to be a part of Yuma County. More than ever, I am humbled by the power and technology mixed with the respect for Mother Nature in our agricultural industry.”
The tour started at the Greengate Fresh processing plant, where the group saw lettuce and cabbage processing in action. From there the group headed to American Takii, a seventh generation seed company, which is one of the first in the world to create several hybrid vegetable seeds. American Takii’s staff includes two former San Luis High School students.
After spending about an hour at each of their first two stops, the tour headed to the University of Arizona’s Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture where the group learned about the impact that research and technology can have on local farmers and their crops, hearing about a team of students, including a former Yuma High School grad, who used drone technology to pollenate Medjool date trees.
The tour next went to Bard, California to meet a harvesting crew and participate in the “Labor of Love” program, which is a “random act of kindness” delivering lunch and gifts to the crew and thanking them for their hard work.
The bus then traveled to the AWC campus to observe science classrooms, meet with students, including a Gila Ridge High School graduate, and view some of the projects AWC agriculture students are working on. The group also 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.
“I think the tour will help our students because it shows the connectivity of moving from high school to the next step in their lives,” Cibola High School Assistant Principal LeAnne McCall said. “We’ve seen so many various levels today that would be attractive to students regardless of whether they are headed into college or career after high school. I just think that for us as administrators and counselors, working with students and parents, this really helps us see the big picture and what’s out there.”
According to University of Arizona Regional Coordinator Tanya Hodges, 1 in 5 Yuma-area jobs are directly affected by agriculture, which is a $6 billion industry in Yuma alone when factoring in direct agriculture and support industries.
“The idea is that we want to induce students to think about agriculture as a career because there a lot of opportunities for them, some in areas they may not have even considered,” said Paul Brierley, Executive Director Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture.
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. Top Flavor Farms Owner Steve Alameda talked with the group as they provided gifts and meals to a harvesting crew during the Labor of Love portion of the tour.
According to Go Ag’s website (goagnow.com), 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.
CLICK THE ABOVE PHOTO TO VIEW MORE FROM THE TOUR.