Robert Wall (left), a technician with berry producer Reiter Affiliated Companies, explains a strawberry research project to students. (Robin DeRieux | UC Davis)
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 undergraduate and graduate students with interests in food science, plant science, biotechnology, biological systems engineering, and other fields.
The students were seeking employment opportunities with hands-on experience to supplement their classroom learning. 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 visit to Taylor Farms expanded her understanding of the connections between food science and agriculture. “When you see grower-packer-shippers who are doing product development as well, you realize that the industry is all vertically connected,” said Yu. “It was cool to see how industry really works.”
UC Davis students also got their boots muddy in the field, where the spectacular Salinas soil can produce three crops a year. At an afternoon reception, Salinas-area employers gave brief overviews of their businesses and had a chance to connect directly with students.
UC Davis alumnus Ernie Farley, who works with Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and is chairman of the board of the Grower-Shipper Association, helped host the UC Davis students. A former Salinas Valley intern himself, he 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.