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YUHSD takes multi-stop agriculture tour with Go Ag

Staff on tour bus Yuma Union High School District staff members from all campuses and the district office took part in their third annual tour of the Yuma agriculture industry on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

In partnership with the Go Ag program, Arizona Western College, and the University of Arizona, Yuma, the far-reaching tour gave 26 teachers, counselors and administrators an opportunity to understand what the Yuma agriculture community looks like and learn about the range of opportunities available to students in the industry following high school.

“So often when we think of agriculture, our teachers and counselors think of only one type of job, and there are so many opportunities in agriculture that we don’t think of in the sciences, in engineering, in the technology areas, in the food production, and food marketing, and logistics,” said University of Arizona Department of Agriculture Regional Coordinator Tanya Hodges. “Getting teachers and counselors into the field where they can go out and see and touch and learn about all of the many opportunities that are available to our students is so critical because they can go back and help career counsel their students.”

The tour started at the Nature Fresh Farms where the group heard the agriculture industry’s technological advancements and learned about the decision-making process for planting and harvesting during the year from General Manager Mike Pasquinelli. 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 former San Luis High School student and Assistant Breeder Pedro Guzman, who shared his story.

Part of the tour at American Takii 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.

The tour next went to the AWC campus to observe science classrooms 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 wanted to be informed about agriculture in our city and find out what is going on at the college and out there in the industry,” Yuma High School Agriculture teacher Chas Dillard said. “So, I can bring that information back to my students and tell them about all of the great opportunities that are out there for them in agriculture.”

The tour ended with the group meeting a harvesting crew from JV Farms and participating 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.

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. The industry 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.

YUHSD and Go Ag, which is one of many outreach initiatives from Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, are expected to partner on a second agriculture tour during the spring semester. That will be the fourth such tour for school district personnel since March 2018.

SLHS Leticia Anaya passing out food

Eric Patten
epatten@yumaunion.org