UC Davis students and Salinas Valley employers find common ground in the World's Salad Bowl.
UC Davis took a bumper crop of talented students to meet with potential employers in Salinas during spring break.
The CA&ES Dean’s Office arranged the field trip in collaboration with the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California to showcase opportunities for summer internships and entry-level jobs in the agricultural industry of the Salinas Valley. Onboard the UC Davis bus were nearly 30 students—both undergraduate and graduate—with interests in food science, plant science, biotechnology, biological systems engineering, and other areas of agriculture.
The students were seeking employment opportunities to supplement their classroom learning with hands-on experience. They toured farm fields and research plots and also suited up in sanitary garb to visit a food processing facility at Taylor Farms.
Food science junior Yanyao Yu said the tour of Taylor Farms expanded her understanding of the connections between food science and agriculture. “When you see grower-packer-shippers who are doing product development too, you realize that the industry is all vertically connected,” said Yu. “It was cool to see how industry really works.”
- Between a lettuce field on the left and a strawberry field on the right, students hear about the spectacular soil and climate of the Salinas Valley. Known as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” the Salinas Valley produces approximately 70 percent of the nation's lettuce, along with many other berries and vegetables. (Photo by Robin DeRieux | UC Davis)
UC Davis students also got their boots muddy out in the field, where the spectacular Salinas soil and gentle coastal climate can produce three crops a year. Students saw a demonstration of an experimental solar-powered cart designed to aid the strawberry harvest. Robert Wall of Reiter Affiliated Companies, a global giant in the fresh berry business, also explained several other agricultural technologies under development to help growers produce berries more efficiently and sustainably.
At an afternoon reception, Salinas-area employers gave brief overviews of their businesses and had a chance to connect directly with students. “We’re always looking for good talent,” said Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin (’85, agricultural and managerial economics), a Taylor Farms vice president. “Many of our interns end up working for us full time.”
UC Davis alumnus Ernie Farley (’87, agricultural science and management), who works with Andrew & Williamson
- Robert Wall, a technician with berry producer Reiter Affiliated Companies, demonstrates an experimental solar-powered cart designed to aid the strawberry harvest. (Photo by Robin DeRieux | UC Davis)
Fresh Produce and is chairman of the board of the Grower-Shipper Association, helped host the UC Davis students. He reminisced about the value of his own agricultural internship in the Salinas Valley, and also stressed the importance of students to the industry. “In agriculture, there are so many opportunities for young people to come up with the answers we need to solve our future challenges,” said Farley.
The field trip to Salinas was one of several pilot events launched by CA&ES Dean Helene Dillard over the past year to help forge a better connection between UC Davis students and industry. Internships help prepare students for jobs after graduation and provide connections that can lead to permanent employment. “Employers always say they want someone with experience,” said Sandi Mar, a junior majoring in biological systems engineering. “This event feels like a place where you can meet people face-to-face who might help you get that first job, who can help you get your foot in the door.”
For more information, contact Melissa Haworth at 530-979-1440, firstname.lastname@example.org.