HMC Farms recently hosted a group of college students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State University who are participating in the Western Growers Careers in Ag program. The students mostly represent STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and visited HMC Farms to learn about different types of careers available to them at a vertically integrated farming business. In addition to an open discussion about potential careers and the future of agriculture, the students were able to visit our orchards and vineyards to get an up-close view of our farming activities.
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, and nectarines. Our early table grape varieties are on the cusp of harvest. The forecast shows hot and sunny days ahead, with highs in the 100s beginning Friday, and lasting until at least the middle of next week – the longest stretch of days 100° or higher we’ve had this year.
Western Growers (a non-profit organization that represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico) is collaborating with Fresno State University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to create the Careers In Ag program. This program introduces students, who are mostly made up of STEM-related majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), to the wide variety of potential careers in agriculture. On a tour of businesses in the Central Valley, the Careers in Ag group visited HMC Farms to cover the topics of farm management, sustainability, plant science, and innovation. Several members of the McClarty family met with the students, discussing their different areas of responsibility and how farming, ag technology, accounting, and sales all fit together to make HMC Farms a successful ag business with a very diverse set of career opportunities within one organization. In addition to open dialogue about different departments and career options at HMC Farms, Harold McClarty discussed the issues faced by California farmers, and the future of ag in the Central Valley with the students.
After the discussion held at the HMC Farms main office, the students headed out to the farms. Drew Ketelsen, Farm Manager and head of our technology projects, introduced the Careers in Ag students to different innovative techniques and technologies we have put in place to become more efficient. He discussed his background in civil engineering, and how that skillset has translated into farm management to transform our planting and irrigation methods. Students observed the difference between an orchard planted in the traditional method and one set up using a high density close-planting method. This new method of planting will ultimately make multiple farming activities, such as pruning and harvesting, more efficient using new ag technologies.
We are thankful to Western Growers for giving HMC Farms the opportunity to show STEM students how they can fit into the world of agriculture, and to hear their questions and concerns about careers in ag. We may have just met the future leaders of industry!
To learn more about the Western Growers Careers in Ag program, read this article.