CALS Students Explore Sustainable Solutions

Amber Hatch, a food and resource economics senior, never knew beef cattle were aiding in wildfire risk reductions. Hatch, along with fellow College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) students Maegan Beatty and Lana Guzman, traveled to San Diego, California, to attend the 2024 Agriculture Future of America‘s (AFA) Sustainability Institute with assistance from VP Promise funding.

2024 AFA Sustainability Institute Student Delegates.

This institute, co-hosted by the National Association Conservation Districts (NACD), exposes college students to innovations and policies in conservation, agriculture and natural resources for sustainability. Participants engaged with industry professionals, connected with students from other universities, and broadened their agricultural knowledge.  

One of the main activities the trio took part in was industry tours. Beatty and Guzman, both agricultural education and communication majors, attended the urban agriculture tour, visiting a community garden, San Diego City College, and a local food bank. Guzman stated the tour broadened her reality of sustainable practices in urban areas. 

Beatty, Hatch, and Guzman.

“The experiences taught me how sustainability starts on a small scale and can be carried throughout every aspect of the agricultural industry,” said Guzman. “[It’s] evident that the companies and organizations are working to engage directly with producers to meet their needs.” 

Hatch participated in a tour focused on animal grazing, forestry and wildlife conservation. The tour visited the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reservation and the Rancho Corta Madera. These operations discussed multiple grazing, wildlife population, and technology projects. Examples of these projects included a burrowing owl repopulation program and virtual fencing for cattle operations.  

“It was truly inspiring to see the beef industry coinciding with sustainability initiatives like wildfire reduction,” said Hatch. 

Outside of the tours, students sat in on roundtables with sustainability leaders from companies including Valent, Nutrien and Corteva. Students were able to have an active voice in conversations with these representatives. Topics included climate change impacts, company sustainability initiatives, and visions for sustainable agriculture. 

“Overall, this institute was an eye-opener for me in the world of sustainability and agriculture,” said Beatty. “It encouraged me to get more involved with campus food programs, such as the Field and Fork Teaching Gardens. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and for the assistance that CALS provided me.” 

 The VP Promise offers financial support to students engaging in experiential learning opportunities within agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is dedicated to fostering student development and success, encouraging students to expand their horizons through participation in study abroad programs, leadership roles, scholarly conferences, and other enriching experiences. 


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Posted: June 3, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: Agricultural Education And Communication, Food And Resource Economics, Professional Development, Sustainability, VP Promise

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