Commission on Future of Agriculture releases report, recommendations

The Fresno State President’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture issued its report today with several key recommendations to enhance and build the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. Among them are:

  • Creating stronger industry partnerships.
  • Creating a Food and Agriculture Institute.
  • Expanding the number of faculty and staff.
  • Increasing the number of student internships.
  • Expanding water-related majors/minors.
  • Building cross-college opportunities in curriculum and applied research.

The commission, comprising agricultural and university leaders, has been meeting since December 2013, to develop its preliminary report to Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro.

“Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology is proud of its programs that provide quality education and applied research in agriculture and food technology, but we can do more,” said Castro.

“Fresno County is the epicenter for agriculture world-wide. This Commission will help fulfill my vision for Fresno State to become the front-runner in providing California agriculture with its future employees, industry leaders and innovators in production agriculture and food processing,” he added.

One of the overarching commission findings is that farm and food education and innovations offered by Fresno State should not be limited to the six-county service area of the region, but should extend well beyond the boundaries of California.

“Given its location, Fresno State is distinctly positioned to provide the education of students, practical research and continuing education needs for the Valley’s number one industry – agriculture,” said commission Co-Chair George Soares, managing partner of Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP in Hanford/Sacramento and owner of Log Haven Dairy of Hanford.

The commission identified eight specific areas for maximizing the potential of the Jordan College and positioning it as an academic leader. The eight recommendations are:

Industry partnerships: Strengthen and expand partnerships with the agriculture and food industries, government and private foundations, focusing on problem-solving partnerships and internship opportunities.

Educational programs: Conduct a thorough review of existing educational programs with a focus on aligning curriculum with current and future industry needs and employment trends; create a new leadership training course as it pertains to agriculture and food production; create an additional associate dean position; and develop interdisciplinary curriculum opportunities between agriculture, technology, business, science, mathematics and engineering.

Create a Food and Agriculture Institute: The institute is designed to serve the Jordan College and the agriculture and food industries in programming, research, educational outreach and coordination. The institute would nurture and promote industry/university partnerships, serve to develop internships, sponsorships, conferences, communications and future initiatives for the Jordan College.

Resources – infrastructure improvements, new facilities, faculty and staff:  Secure necessary increases in faculty and staff; create state-of-the-art creamery/dairy and meat processing facilities; develop resources to address aging facilities and equipment; identify the top five demonstration units and improve them over a five-to10 year period; and preserve and improve the existing University Farm Laboratory exclusively for agricultural purposes.

Students and alumni: A successful college educational program is not possible without faculty, student and alumni commitment. Promote “legacy” recruitments by students of Fresno State alumni; expand participation in and create new opportunities for job fairs; develop a summer institute for high school students interested in agriculture and food related careers, and develop new and improved methods to engage alumni in programs, internships, career pipelines and public-private partnerships.

Applied research: The addition of the Jordan Research Center will provide a state-of-the-art facility to conduct long-term scientific and engineering innovation in such areas as food and wine sensory evaluation, water modeling, bioenergy systems, entomology and plant pathology; advance the development of patents; improve industry outreach to explore new problem-solving opportunities for partnering; and review the integration of research centers/institutes with core academic programs.

Communication and outreach: Greatly expand communication and outreach to increase awareness of the current top quality programs and opportunities at the Jordan College; develop a comprehensive communications plan, identifying audiences and messaging; and improve alumni outreach.

 

Water: Provide support to President Castro’s campus/industry task force to coordinate existing water-related programs at Fresno State and to redefine the University as a recognized leader in the area of water technology, water resource management and policy; consolidate the various water entities on campus and promote as full-service to industry, academia and government; create new and expand existing water-related majors/minors from technical to policy; and increase cross-college utilization of the on-campus Water and Energy Technology Center for internships and career development.

“I appreciate these thoughtful recommendations,” said Castro. “They provide us with the direction to help our students excel in a changing agriculture and food industry and ensure Fresno State will be even stronger for the next generation of students.”

Castro said the commission will remain engaged in the recommendation, review and implementation process.

“This is the beginning of an expansive process that will require the full engagement of industry leaders from throughout the state and provides many opportunities for industry partners, alumni and friends to work together with university leaders, faculty and students to be a part of this very important, exciting time for Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology,” Castro said.

The 19-member Commission includes: Co-chairs George Soares, managing partner, Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP,   Hanford/Sacramento and owner, Log Haven Dairy, of Hanford, and Fresno State Interim Provost Dr. Andrew Hoff; and  members: Darius Assemi, Granville Management Inc., Fresno; Kim Ruiz Beck, Ruiz Food Products Inc., Dinuba; Barry Bedwell, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno; Carol Chandler, Chandler Farms, Selma; Octavia Diener, Fresno State Foundation Board, Fresno;  Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau, Fresno; David Mas Masumoto, Masumoto Farms, Inc., Del Rey; Marvin Meyers, Meyers Farming, Firebaugh; Dennis Parnagian, Fowler Packing Co., Fresno; Pat Ricchuiti, P-R Farms, Inc., Clovis; Mario Santoyo, Friant Water Authority, Lindsay; Bill Smittcamp, Wawona Frozen Foods, Clovis;  Peter Weber, Regional Job Initiatives, Fresno; and Associated Vice President Dennis Nef, Dean Susan Elrod, Dean Ram Nunna and professor Lynn Williams, all of Fresno State.

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Kathleen Schock

written by

Director of Media and Development Communications, University Communications
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