There are plenty of careers in agriculture and high school students learned all about many of them at the 3rd Annual Agriculture Career Fair last week. Above (right) Angela Aguilar and (left)Ashley Barajas from the Reiter Affiliated Companies talk to students about their careers and their compny. RAC provides quality berries worldwide.

3rd Annual Ag Fair draws high school students interested in ag careers

March 11, 2016
Santa Paula News

There are plenty of careers in agriculture and high school students learned all about many of them at the 3rd Annual Agriculture Career Fai

The fair was held March 3 at the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum where the students were surrounded not only by exhibits highlighting the county’s rich ag heritage but also by the same companies that make the county ground zero for growers and support industries.

Ventura County’s agriculture industry was valued at more than $2 billion last year.

“We need people to feed the world,” Ventura Community College President Dr. Greg Gillespie told the crowd.

He noted his own background in crop sciences and research and said he is “excited” about schools developing agriculture-related curriculum.

Gillespie said Ventura County is the perfect resource for the next generation who will be charged to keep the industry vital. 

“We’ve been around a long time and fortunately we’ll be around even longer,” said Associates Insectary Bio Division Manager Bill Grant.

The Santa Paula based company has served its grower-members in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties with beneficial organisms and integrated pest management since 1928.

And business said Grant is “exploding” with those seeking to use beneficial pests to control the bad bugs and other environmentally friendly methods.

SEEAg, Bennett’s Honey Farm, The Berry Man, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and others were answering the questions of students from Santa Paula, Fillmore, Ventura and Camarillo and Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, areas active in ag and agriculture education.

Mike Binsley has worked for Crop Production Services for decades and the Oxnard branch manager noted the company offers products and services to grow the best crops possible. 

The company prides itself on matching people, science and technology to grower needs to maximize their products. 

The company — which has offices throughout the United States and Canada — offers many job opportunities from accountants and field technicians to sales managers and marketing specialists. 

And it’s never too early to start: the Ag Fair offered a series of workshops concentrating on job skills, how to interview “Like a Boss” and nailing professional networking. 

Gene Caulfield of Limoneira was offering the personal touch, telling students of numerous summer jobs and other opportunities and urging them to come out to the ranch where he would give them a tour.

“Big ag companies need scientists and secretaries and everything in between,” Caulfield told students, some of who stopped next at a table staffed by a farming heavy equipment operator.

Alex Flores, the Santa Paula High School Future Farmers of America advisor said the local FFA had about 20 students at the Ag Fair but more were expected.

“All the students keep coming in and out in waves,” including buses arriving from other schools. 

Programs such as VC Innovates are aggressively working to match students with potential careers said agriculture liaison Mike Etchart.

VC Innovates motto is “Uniting employers, education and community to advance workforce innovation,” and it seemed to be working well at the Ag Fair, which Etchart said “Is part of the push to match students with well paying jobs…we want to make sure they are career and college ready.”

Ventura College is revising its own agricultural programs to align with other campuses as well as high school curriculum to allow students to earn college credits their senior year. 

Agriculture offers many career choices, “Whatever they’re interested in, from finance and chemistry to marketing and even video production,” said Etchart, “you’ll find the need in ag!”

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