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Category Archives: Environment

Building Our Resources: Strengthening Our Advantage

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE

Agriculture is the leading industry in California, contributing over $500 billion annually to the state. Among universities that grant undergraduate degrees, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly SLO is the fourth largest undergraduate agriculture program in the nation, with more than 3,500 students. It is the largest non land-grant agricultural program in the United States. The College awards an average of 650 baccalaureate degrees each year, nearly half of all baccalaureate agriculture degrees granted in California.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA

The Department of Horticulture and Crop Science now serves over 300 students annually. Students at Cal Poly SLO come from all over California, with the majority hailing from the Central Coast and Central Valley, followed by the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas. Only seven percent of students attend from outside California.

HCS Vineyards

HCS Vineyards

The future of the agricultural industry rests with the education of Cal Poly SLO’s highly capable students who will provide leadership to one of the world’s most important industries. The challenge is enormous: produce more food for exponentially greater numbers of people on less land with a finite amount of natural resources and do it in an environmentally sensitive manner. Food, water, land, and air are our primary resources, and to use them wisely, we need trained, motivated students eager to tackle these critical issues with energy and intelligence. In addition, the enhancement and management of our personal and community environments with plants is an important issue that helps assure us healthful lives and better quality of living and keeps us in harmony with the natural world around us.

San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo, CA

AGRICULTURE’S KEY ROLE AT CAL POLY SLO

The University’s learn-by-doing, hands-on philosophy is reflected in the laboratory-intensive curriculum, focus on undergraduate research, importance of cooperative work experience, and the requirement of a senior project that is applied in nature. Cal Poly SLO is an institution that prides itself on keeping students current with industry trends. Horticulture and Crop Science at Cal Poly SLO have a rich tradition dating to the University’s founding in 1901.

Cut Flower production in Retractable Roof Greenhouse at Horticulture Unit

Cut Flower production in Retractable Roof Greenhouse at Horticulture Unit

In 1901, visitors to San Luis Obispo saw a ranching and farming community of just over 3,000 people. What is now the Cal Poly SLO campus was farmland some distance north of the town, a place where the trustees charged with finding land for the campus were impressed by the oranges picked from the groves of the Dawson Lowe Ranch. From the University’s earliest days, agriculture in the fertile area was a primary emphasis–even in areas where the soil was “inferior”. Trustees saw this as a perfect learning opportunity for students. As the campus grew in acreage, extensive dryland crops, vegetable fields, vineyards, and orchards were added to the site.

Cal Poly SLO Orange Groves on Highland Drive Entrance

Cal Poly SLO Orange Groves on Highland Drive Entrance

The departments evolved with the decades, feeling the pinch of the Great Depression and the extraordinary influx of students as a result of the GI Bill. Before World War II, horticulture facilities included a lab for plant propagation, tool storage for horticulture and grounds departments, housing for two students, a redwood lath house, and a 1,200 square foot glasshouse. The Crops Department had 390 acres under cultivation and an assortment of storage facilities. Only after World War II, was an Ag Building constructed, housing classrooms, offices, and labs. In 1962, the Crops field house (Building 17) was erected and land under cultivation soon increased to 719 acres.

Corn fields with Madonna Mountain in the background

Corn fields with Madonna Mountain in the background

Crops Unit Complex (Building 17) erected in 1962

Crops Unit Complex (Building 17) erected in 1962

Peaches in production at the Crops Unit

Peaches in production at the Crops Unit

The subsequent decade witnessed a building boom on campus. Conceived in the 1960’s, the Leaning Pine Arboretum developed over time into a lush, five-acre showcase for native and mediterranean climate plants. The 1970’s saw an increase of 13,000 square feet of greenhouse space for Ornamental Horticulture and Crops and some new facilities. New classroom and office space was added in 1986, with the construction of the Agriculture Sciences Building (Building 11). The Crops Department was able to add two new labs to their site in the 1990’s to replace the labs lost in prior renovations and construction.

Leaning Pine Arboretum at the Horticulture Unit (Building 48)

Leaning Pine Arboretum at the Horticulture Unit (Building 48)

In 2002, Environmental Horticultural Science (formerly Ornamental Horticulture) and Crop Science merged to strengthen student education across the curriculum and better prepare students to enter the Plant Agriculture Industry. But in recent years, facilities for both departments (most of which date from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) have fallen short of the kind which today’s students expect and today’s industry requires.

EHS Unit at the top of Via Carta on campus

EHS Unit at the top of Via Carta on campus

In response, the Horticulture and Crop Science Department (HCS) has developed a master plan for comprehensive modernization of the Horticulture and Crop Units: the Sustainable Horticulture and Crop Science Complex. The current 20th century facilities will be revitalized to accommodate new technology and the needs of the 21st century. Already, we can see that this century of agriculture is driven by the need to feed and clothe a growing world population using methods that ensure the continued productivity of our farmland.

Food processing and packaging labs

Food processing and packaging labs

In these new facilities students will experience modern harvesting, post-production care and handling, marketing, and retail. The renovations will allow for meaningful collaborations with industry, preparing agricultural graduates to provide immediate value in the workplace, and renew both the Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ curriculum and faculty.

We were the second greenhouse nursery to grow this new variety of Green Ball Dianthus (aka Trick Carnations) grown at the EHS Unit greenhouses

We were the second greenhouse nursery to grow this new variety of Green Ball Dianthus (aka Trick Carnations) grown at the EHS Unit greenhouses

With your support during this planning process for the Sustainable Horticulture and Crops Complex, you will help develop:

  • More and better-qualified graduates
  • Improved learning facilities
  • Cooperative education programs with industry
  • Opportunities for students to enhance their skills in leadership, management, and communication
  • Programs that rapidly incorporate industry advancements, both in sustainability and technology

OUR FUTURE

Perhaps nowhere else in the world are the educational opportunities are greater for students to see, experience, and learn about the production, handling, utilization, and marketing of ornamental and food plants than in Central California’s Coast and Valley. On the coast, the mediterranean climate and superb growing conditions provide an extraordinary spectrum of ornamental and food plants. Nearby in the Central Valley, agricultural production is California’s breadbasket.

We're located in one of the most fertile areas in California

We’re located in one of the most fertile areas in California

California is also home to some of the largest nurseries, greenhouse operations, and landscape maintenance companies in the United States and ranks second among states in the number of golf courses. California’s horticulture industry is a multibillion dollar business and Cal Poly SLO graduates are in demand by the industry.

Students in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Students in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Poinsettia Enterprise Project in greenhouses at EHS Unit

Poinsettia Enterprise Project in greenhouses at EHS Unit

As we consider the future of agriculture in California, we have an extraordinary opportunity to plan wisely for a Sustainable Horticulture and Crops Complex, attracting new students to agricultural careers and expanding Cal Poly SLO’s critical role in the industry. Working with other departments across the campus, we will continue to teach our students to be environmentally and politically sensitive to the global forces that are shaping our industry:

  • Competing demand for natural resources
  • Cost structures
  • Infrastructure required to ensure a safe food supply
  • Energy consumption and the impact of alternative sources of energy
  • Shortage of skilled labor
  • International public policy demands

WHAT WE SEE FOR OUR FUTURE OF THE DEPARTMENT’S FACILITIES

Driving north on Highway 1 from the coast, the morros of San Luis Obispo rise from the east as you enter the valley, with Bishop’s Peak dominating the west. The entrance to the university on Santa Rosa is the first impression visitors traveling along Highway 1 have of California Polytechnic State University. Flanked by avocado and citrus groves on the south, and Radio Tower Hill to the north, it is also the first impression of the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. It is an ideal location to showcase Horticulture and Crop Science; planting terraces of water-wise native mediterranean plants on the northern slope, opening up the views to the orchards on the south, and creating immediate opportunities for learning with signage along the walkway leading into the interior of campus.

Bishop's Peak dominates the Cal Poly SLO backdrop

Bishop’s Peak dominates the Cal Poly SLO backdrop

Continuing along Highland Drive, now lined with Italian Cypresses, the groves and buildings of Crops Science are the first teaching facilities visitors encounter. The Crops Unit has 70 acres of productive citrus, avocados, grapes, deciduous orchards, and berries. Now the site is a series of labs and ramshackle structures, but we envision a Farmer’s Market outfitted in the old Crops Field House, moving the Organic Farm to this prime location, as well as a new winery, dormatory for a select few students, and upgraded teaching and office space.

Cal Poly SLO Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO Organic Farm

Walnut processing lab at the Crops Unit

Walnut processing lab at the Crops Unit

The relocated Organic Farm and new Winery will create innovative educational opportunities and programs that reflect the significance of these components in the crops industry. Largely student managed, the current eleven acre Organic Farm is home to a variety of programs, including Cal Poly SLO’s annual CSA subscription program. Students are involved in composting, natural pest control, native plants, bio-intensive agriculture and permaculture design. Additionally, students volunteer for work activities. But the current site is too close to other campus activities to be a truly successful and public-accessible organic farm.

Crops Unit Vineyards

Crops Unit Vineyards

Students harvesting organically grown vegetables at the new Organic Farm

Students harvesting organically grown vegetables at the new Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO grown produce from the Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO grown produce from the Organic Farm

Produce from the Organic Farm and Crops Unit sold at the current Farmer's Market on campus

Produce from the Organic Farm and Crops Unit sold at the current Farmer’s Market on campus

Consumers are driving the demand for more organic and sustainable products. Additionally, there is an increased demand for locally produced products. At the new Farmer’s Market and Organic Farm, a visitor might learn about making honey, bottling wine, fruit and nut processing, enjoy an ice cream cone with Cal Poly SLO’s own ice cream, buy flowers and ornamental nursery plants from the Poly Plant Shop, or learn about organic and sustainable (as well as conventional) farming techniques. Visitors meet Horticulture and Crop Science students working in the shops, the fields or new labs, studying integrated pest management, viticulture, vegetable production or cleaning and storing equipment. A new greenhouse showcases the latest in hydroponic production, demonstrating how the vegetables for sale at the Farmer’s Market can be grown during the colder seasons. Green roofs cover the new buildings, including a dormatory for four students who oversee the site. These green roofs are water-wise, and insulate the buildings as well.

Nursery one-gallon plants for sale at Poly Plant Shop

Nursery one-gallon plants for sale at Poly Plant Shop

Poly Plant Shop student-made bouquets for sale

Poly Plant Shop student-made bouquets for sale

Student-built and maintained Greenwall at the EHS Unit

Student-built and maintained Greenwall at the EHS Unit

Cal Poly SLO Honey for sale

Cal Poly SLO Honey for sale

Fruit and vegetable production fields will be redesigned and relocated to enhance educational and operational efficiencies. New laboratories will incorporate the latest in operational and farm management equipment, particularly related to plant protection and product handling systems. Students have the opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques in the field through close interaction with instructors. Lab-intensive, hands-on approaches to learning continues to be a top priority for our students.

Students trained how to use farm equipment

Students trained how to use farm equipment

Cut flowers in production in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Cut flowers in production in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

One-gallon nursery plants in full production at the EHS Unit

One-gallon nursery plants in full production at the EHS Unit

Driving east along Highland Drive and going left on Via Carta toward Poly Canyon Village, Cal Poly SLO’s new dormatories housing 2,700 undergraduate students, visitors come to the Horticulture Unit now transformed with new greenhouses, a visitor’s center and up-to-date classrooms, demonstrating the latest in plant production and floriculture techniques in a unique rural-urban landscape. The Amatoscapes at the southern end of the Horticulture Unit invite visitors to the Leaning Pine Arboretum, itself a showcase for water-wise mediterranean plants from Chile, South Africa, Australia, Europe’s Mediterranean Basin, and California natives. Along Drumm Creek, a horse trail borders the demonstration are for native plants where students work on bio-water filtration, propagating native grasses and restoring the creek habitat.

IMG_3482

Poly Canyon Village and Cerro Vista undergraduate dorms

Leaning Pine Arboretum

Leaning Pine Arboretum

The California food, fiber, flower, and forest system continue to change dramatically, being driven by continuing advances in technology, consumer behavior and globalization. The new Horticultural Science Unit will train students about the production, harvesting, handling, and utilization of ornamental horticulture crops in contemporary methods. Out-dated labs and classroom facilities will be modernized and greenhouse structures will be renovated to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies. Turf and arboriculture areas will be augmented with the high-tech equipment required for training students in this lucrative industry. Here too the green roofs and green walls are evident on the new dormatory and Visitor’s Center, underlining Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ commitment to creating sustainable landscapes and a harmonious relationship with our environment.

Arboriculture lab

Arboriculture lab

New student-designed, built, and maintained ampitheater

New student-designed, built, and maintained amphitheater

Beautifully student-grown pansies for color trials

Beautifully student-grown pansies for color trials

California claims the largest urban agriculture industries in the United States–industries such as landscape, nursery, greenhouse products, golf and recreation. The Horticulture Unit at Cal Poly SLO can offer students tremendous diversity of landscape–both natural and urban–to learn an integrated approach to land-use that addresses the optimum stewardship of the land, natural resources, energy and labor, combined with sustainable economic growth and profitability. This is the model that California’s agriculture, floriculture, and resource professionals will follow.

Hydroponic vegetable crops in the new Hydroponic Greenhouse at the Crops Unit

Hydroponic vegetable crops in the new Hydroponic Greenhouse at the Crops Unit

Students installing the next crop of hydroponic vegetables in the Hydroponic Vegetable Production lab

Students installing the next crop of hydroponic vegetables in the Hydroponic Vegetable Production lab

Hydroponically grown Gerbera Daisy cut flowers in the EHS Unit greenhouses

Hydroponically grown Gerbera Daisy cut flowers in the EHS Unit greenhouses

HOW YOU CAN HELP REALIZE OUR DREAMS

The College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences strives to be a leader in providing students with real-world skills based on laboratory and field-intensive curricula, contemporary instructional technology, uncommon access to senior faculty in small class settings, and student enterprise projects. We already know the new millennium is different than Cal Poly SLO’s was over 60 years ago. Skills, such as computer literacy and being technically savvy, are mandatory. The days of strictly domestic production are disappearing, and success on the international level will require an understanding of other cultures and fluency in other languages. Technology keeps increasing the rate of change in our world, and our students have to be flexible, agile, and successful communicators.

Student grown succulents

Student grown succulents

Senior projects offer students a unique opportunity to Learn. Do. Lead.

Senior projects offer students a unique opportunity to Learn. Do. Lead.

The opportunities are tremendous on this campus. More than 6,000 acres are allocated for agricultural instruction on the campus at San Luis Obispo. There is rangeland for grazing, and more intensively cultivated parcels are used for orchards, vineyards, fruit and nut crops, vegetable production, field crops, agroforestry, and turf management. Greenhouses, the Leaning Pine Arboretum, as well as facilities for fruit and vegetable processing are available for production and instructional use. But Horticulture and Crop Science has not been truly modernized since the 1970’s, putting Cal Poly out of step with industry standards. While the worldwide demand for trained men and women in plant bio-technology, integrated pest management, precision farming, post-harvest technology, research and development, consulting, and marketing is growing everyday, the Horticulture and Crop Science Department has more or less stood still. In order to give our students the best education that Cal Poly SLO can offer (and attract new and fresh faculty) we must bring our facilities up-to-date.

Cal Poly SLO Compost for sale

Cal Poly SLO Compost for sale

Collecting insects for Biocontrol and Entomology classes

Collecting insects for Biocontrol and Entomology classes

Scouting for pathogens at the Crops Unit

Scouting for pathogens at the Crops Unit

We estimate that we will need to raise $20 million dollars to do everything we see in our future. Our immediate goal is to secure $1 million dollars for design and planning of the Horticulture and Crop Science Units. This would include relocating the Organic Farm, changing the circulation and roadway on the site of the new Sustainable Crops Complex, new landscaping along HIghland Drive, garden design and landscaping for the Environmental Horticulture Center and a new entrance to Cal Poly SLO from Santa Rosa. Your gift is the building block that will allow us to incorporate our vision into the curriculum, secure new students and faculty anticipating the latest technology and techniques at Cal Poly SLO, and retain the “Learn by Doing” hallmark on which Cal Poly SLO has built its reputation.

Cal Poly SLO

Cal Poly SLO

If you would like to help us realize our dream for our new department facilities for our students, you can help by donating to the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. Just make a check out to “Horticulture & Crop Science Department” and send it to:

HCS Department,

1 Grand Ave.,

Cal Poly,

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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Internship at the Smithsonian (continued…)

Posted by: Katrina Burritt, EHS student

I just finished up my last week at the Smithsonian on Friday July 27, 2012. I really enjoyed
this internship. The staff was very nice and I got to connect to most of the people in the
Greenhouse unit because there wasn’t that many of us. I have learned so much about
maintaining a living collection, specifically with orchids, although I also worked with bonsai,
tropical and bromeliads. Work included testing the orchids for virus, watering (so much
watering), greenhouse maintenance, plant upkeep, flower arranging and database work. I
would highly recommend an internship within Smithsonian Gardens for anyone. Another bonus
to an internship at Smithsonian Gardens is all the field trips and events the interns are allowed
to participate in. I got to go the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, the Freer
and Sackler Gallery, and Dumbarton Oaks before they were open to the public.

 

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Interior Plant Program To Invade Campus

Interior Plant Program To Invade Campus

Posted By: Dani Ruais

“You’re going to love plants by the end of this…”

Very few people know about the Interior Plant Care Program that Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences lecturer Joe Haslett spear-headed on Cal Poly’s campus. He started the program summer 2011, and in just under a year, the Horticulture and Crop Science department is present in every sit-down restaurant on campus, making its way over to the new Rec Center and hopefully into the University Union by the end of summer 2012. The idea behind this project was not just to beautify the campus core (which, as horticulture students, we just have a knack for beautifying spaces), but to teach the Interior Plant Care students the ins and outs of how the interior plant care industry works. Students participate in all aspects of the process from designing and planning, to choosing and growing the plants, to installing the plants in their new spaces, as well as taking care of the regular watering and maintenance of the plants. Most of the plants used in the restaurants on campus are grown by Cal Poly Horticulture students in the Foliage Greenhouse #10 at the Horticulture Unit. The plants were prepped and installed and are currently maintained by students.

You can see them for yourself at The Sandwich Factory, The Avenue, Metro Express, Metro 19, Ciao! and Sage restaurant.  They have been installed and maintained by paid Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences students. After our program received much support from the rest of the Cal Poly campus community, we were given the opportunity to also design the interior plants for the new recreation center on campus that just opened earlier this year in the spring of 2012.

The process of designing for a client is both exciting and challenging. It’s exciting because we are getting hands-on experience that you would only get if you were in the industry, and challenging because we are faced with real-world circumstances such as working with a client’s budget, or a client’s idea of how he or she would like the design done (everything from the plant selection to the container selection). I not only got experience with installing and maintaining different interior plants and spaces, but I also got experience with the software that industry professionals use to design interior spaces for their clients.

After our design plans for the new recreation center were approved, which takes a while in the real world, it was time to take a trip to the Santa Ynez Gardens Nursery to pick out our larger more expensive palm trees, as well as some interesting color plants to make “color bowls” that may be changed out seasonally, such as at Christmas time with poinsettias.

Once our plants and containers were delivered, it was time to stage and clean all the plants before they are put in their new home. We cleaned and pruned them at the Horticulture Unit prior to placing them in the Rec Center. For the larger plants, we had to assemble them on site. But for our smaller plants and color bowls, we were able to get them all ready so that they could just be placed in their spots. Even though we purchase clean plants from nurseries, it’s important for us to inspect and clean them ourselves so that we can guarantee the plants’ health. We use a natural citrus spray to smother mites and insects as well as to give the foliage some shine. Then we place the plants in their individual saucers, or pots that have sub-irrigation so that we can easily replace plants in the future.

I urge everyone to check out our work! Visit the dining complexes on campus as well as the Rec Center that we just finished installing. I hope you all enjoy the plants as much as I do.

If you would like more information on the Interior Plant Management class that is offered by Joe Haslett, our projects, or possible jobs, please contact Joe Haslett at: jhaslett@calpoly.edu.

Posted By: Dani Ruais

 

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It’s the Little Things Around Campus

Posted By: Dani Ruais

As it is getting close to finals week here at Cal Poly, and as long as the entire student body is studying at Kennedy Library, why not take a walk around campus for a study break? You might be surprised at what you find! Just take a deep breath and look around youself. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, located in the valley of the Irish Hills, Madonna Mountain, the “P”, and Bishop’s Peak. We are minutes from the great outdoors: Leaning Pine Arboretum, Poly Canyon, Horse Canyon, not to mention the several hiking and biking trails on and off campus. Here are just a few of the great treasures that I look forward to spotting around campus on a regular basis. Being on this campus and in this beautiful town is just one of the perks of coming to Cal Poly SLO. Especially enrolling in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department, we are not only some of the creators of this beauty on campus, but we are also true stewards of this land and campus.

Sheep on the BRAE irrigation test field

Sheep on the BRAE irrigation test field

Sheep on the Bio Resource Agricultural Resource Test fields

Fletcher, one of the mousers at the Horticulture Unit, getting some much-needed TLC.

Say “Hi” to Fletcher when you are up at the Horticulture unit!

We treat our barn cats and mousers very well here! An extra special thank you to the Cal Poly Cat Program for taking care of our campus kitties!
Check out the Cal Poly Cat Program at: http://www.afd.calpoly.edu/facilities/cats/index.html

Hummingbird nest in the greenhouse corridor at the Horticulture Unit

Hummers nest at the Horticulture Unit

Baby swallows in the breezeway at the Horticulture Unit

How do they all fit in that tiny nest?!

Birdhouse at the Horticulture Dorm

The baby horses are out with their moms at the Horse Unit right across the way from the Horticulture Unit at the top of Via Carta on Cal Poly SLO’s campus.

Just enjoying the beautiful sun!

Take a walk up to the Horse Unit and pet a horse or two!

Horses!

Scrub jay at the Horse Unit

Thomas, the mouser at the Horse Unit

Thomas getting ready for a nap

View from the Horse Unit

Bishop’s Peak in the background; not a bad place to attend class 🙂

They don’t seem to mind the sprinklers.

Visit the Swine Unit!

Pirate calf

At the Dairy

Good luck studying for your finals! Hope this post reminds you to take it SLO!

 

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Back to Cali

Posted by: Mitchell

Hi All!

Sorry for the delay. It has been a rather hectic schedule since I left Iowa to finish my last quarters at Cal Poly!  As of this point, I am taking my last three required classes at Cal Poly, and then it is back to Colusa I go.  I felt that this blog was as good a time as any to reflect on my last five years in the HCS department.

I came to this university in 2007.  I didn’t know anybody, and realistically, I didn’t even really know myself.  Since that time I have taken more than 52 classes and met lifelong friends.  I have also had the chance to do things that I never thought possible such as travel both the world and the United States. I have been given the chance to not only be a student in a University, but be an individual at a school full of professors and staff who know me and what I need to succeed.

The main purpose of a college degree is to help prepare you for a career, but along with that, it’s to help you find out what your passion is.  For example, I am currently growing hydroponic lettuce for my senior project.  With this project we are hoping to start a breeding project that could help improve the way that we grow lettuce in California.  None of this would have been possible without the help of my advisor, my professors, and my classmates.  The project itself is an accumulation of everything I have learned at Cal Poly, and I really think it exemplifies everything that I love about this school.  Before this project, I had never grown anything using hydroponics, yet here I am, one quarter later growing whole lettuce crops.  Learn by Doing at its finest.
I believe that this blog has given people a good look at our everyday lives and what it might mean to be a student at this school.  If you love agriculture, learning, and growing as a student and as a person, come to Cal Poly, and become a member of our AEPS family.

 

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Useless?! Try Vital! A response to Yahoo!’s article “College Majors That Are Useless”

Posted by: Brean

Studying horticulture opens up doors around the world -- Here I am at Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid, Spain in August of 2011. One of the most gorgeous public gardens I've ever seen!

As future leaders within the Horticulture and Crop Science Department, we know better than to believe what is written in the article College Majors That Are Useless by Terrence Loose on Yahoo! Education.

Everyday – sometimes multiple times per day – we are receiving emails from our department about internships and career opportunities within crop science, landscape, public horticulture, turfgrass and sports field management, plant protection science, and greenhouse and nursery plant production all over the state, the country, and the world. That’s right: everyday, employers within these fields are seeking us to work for them!

Not to mention, the types of positions available to us are not only production-based (which is what Loose claims), but rather, they encompass a broad range such as marketing and sales representatives, research scientists, quality assurance managers — just to name a few. People may also be surprised to find out that the average starting salary for a graduate in the agriculture industry is almost $49,000 (according to the AgCareers.com/ AgrowKnowledge Enrollment and Employment Outlook Report and the AgCareers.com Compensation Benchmark Review).

Let’s also talk about the issue of “uselessness” of our degrees. The whole basis of our education is to provide food, flora, and fiber for the world. We might be so bold in making the statement that our degrees are, on the contrary, useful. According to the latest data from AgCareers.com, 81% of jobs in the ag industry require education beyond high school and almost half require at least a bachelor’s degree.  According to the AgCareers.com/AgrowKnowledge Enrollment and Employment Outlook Report in 2008 there was a deficit of 9,317 graduates with agriculture degrees to fill open positions in the U.S.

We are the future of agricultural and environmental plant sciences, and have taken responsibility to provide food, flora, and fiber sustainably and efficiently in a booming world population. With an increasing demand for high-quality and nutritious foods; advances in agriculture, science and technology; a growing population and a need to produce more with less, there are, in fact, a wide variety of rewarding, well-paid career opportunities in agriculture!

Those of us who are Agricultural and Environmental Plant Science majors at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo know the importance of our degrees and viability of our future careers!

 

Meet Sydney :)

Posted by: Sydney

Hi there! My name is Sydney Ross and I am a freshman Horticulture and Crop Science student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Specifically I am an Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences Major with a concentration in Greenhouse and Nursery Plant Production. This past year the HCS department decided to change things, as far as majors go, for future students starting with the graduating class of 2015, my incoming class. Previously I would have been admitted as an Environmental Horticultural Science student, but due to the creation of new concentrations, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to become an AEPS “Ape!” I am extremely, extremely, happy with my choice in major. Although I have only had the pleasure to experience one quarter at Cal Poly so far, I have learned many lovely and fascinating things about plants through HCS already.

Before I came to Cal Poly, I frequently asked myself, “What am I doing?” or rather “Is this really going to be right for me?” (Suddenly it seemed as though the world was my oyster. Wow, that is cheesy, but hey, it’s true!) As soon as I started taking all of my introduction to horticulture classes however, I knew abruptly I had made the right choice; not only in school, but also to become a HCS student. Well, I honestly can’t think of anything I would rather be doing than working with plants.

But before I dive into my love for nature, a little about myself. I was raised in Huntington Beach, California, which is pretty far south.  It is also known as “Surf City USA.” Huntington Beach is an amazing place–so beautiful–I feel truly fortunate to call it home! My personal favorite pastimes include hiking; backpacking, going for long walks with my pup, Charly, pressing, picking, and collecting plants; sketching; and of course fungus hunting! (I will admit I am a bit of a dweeb when it comes to mycology.) Frequently you can find me wandering around various parks, nature preserves, and the good ol’ outdoors. I think it was my love of exploring nature that turned me onto the idea that I could cultivate plants for a living. Just the thought of one day owning or running a greenhouse puts a large grin on my face. My favorite plants and fungi include poppies, echeveria, irises, manzanita, rosemary, lavender, banksias, shaggy mane, sulfur shelf, yellow coral, witches butter, fairy ring mushrooms, and amethyst laccaria (I’m going to stop myself here, before this goes on forever.) There are so many beautiful and exotic species in the world to see that learning about them is one of my favorite things in life.

Besides being a horticulture student, I am also the Eco-Representative of my dorm. I promote all aspects of sustainability, recycling, etc., as well as am an active member of the Real Foods Collaborative here on campus, working to integrate more fresh and locally grown foods into the campus diet. As you can tell I am a very busy and love it here in San Luis! I look forward to telling you more about my fantastic experiences here as an AEPS student, so until next time upward and onward!

 

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