AG 452: Issues Affecting California Agriculture course recap

Contributed by Ignacio Mata-Garcia | Junior | Agricultural Science

This Winter quarter, I had the privilege of being one of the 20 students selected to enroll in Dr. Mark Shelton’s AG 452: Issues Affecting California Agriculture course. As a transfer student, I have had little exposure to courses as impactful as this one. 

The course was created to resemble the California Agricultural Leadership Program and to expose students to important industry leaders. This included 12 guest speakers who visited the class throughout the quarter. 

I gained an abundant amount of knowledge getting to hear from these leaders and their experiences. The most impactful speaker, in my opinion, was Mr. George Soares. Mr. Soares is an attorney and lobbyist in Sacramento and is a partner at Kahn, Soares, and Conway, LLP.  

The message that resonated with me the most was when Mr. Soares explained how we currently have a circle of knowledge and after undergoing different events and experiences our circle should expand. Throughout life, no matter what we are doing, our circle of knowledge should do nothing other than be continuously expanding. 

Coming from an individual that has had several years working in the industry, this message provided me with a perspective of how impactful and helpful it is to be a life-long learner. If people stop opening themselves to learning, there would be minimal opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The course required a final research paper and a presentation that was held at the California State Capitol. 

Students in the class worked in groups and created reports on four different issues affecting California agriculture. Those topics included water availability, labor, hemp production, and consumer confidence. 

While in Sacramento, we heard from more agricultural leaders and alumni from Cal Poly who participated in the AG 452 class.

Being nominated by my department head and also handpicked to participate in this course was fantastic and I will truly cherish and benefit from it in the years to come. Listening to important industry leaders from organizations like the Strawberry Commission, Almond Board of California, and the Rice Commission was fascinating and truly educational. 

Being introduced on the State Assembly floor by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham was an amazing experience as well. 

All in all, the exposure to how policy and government directly impact the agricultural industry was eye-opening. This course has equipped me with a very broad understanding and perception of all that agriculture entails and the policy that goes along with it.       

Click on the photo above to preview the AG 452 booklet that includes all the student work and information that each group presented at the state capital.