News and Notes

Award of Honor

David Gill (Crop Science, ’72) was named the 2018 College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Honored Alumnus. Gill is a fourth-generation farmer who started his own farm shortly after graduation and in 1979 founded Rio Farms with his brother Steven Gill, also a Cal Poly alumnus. In 1983, the brothers launched Gills Onions, one of the largest and most innovative fresh-cut onion processing plants in the world.

Rio Farms grows a variety of crops, including lettuce, spring mix, spinach, cauliflower and peppers. Combined, Gill’s two farms rank among the top 10 growers in the Western United States. Gill is active in numerous industry organizations, including Western Growers, California Farm Bureau Federation, and the Produce Marketing Association. In 2017, Western Growers honored Gill with its Award of Honor, the organization’s most prestigious award, in recognition of his extensive contributions to the agricultural community.

Gill is active in the planning and programming for the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences new Plant Sciences Complex. An avid golfer, he is chairman of the board for First Tee of Monterey County and a strong supporter of King City Young Farmers, Boy Scouts of America, and Future Farmers of America.


Third Best in the Nation

Cal Poly’s Experience Industry Management Department was named the third best department in the nation for the study of parks, recreation and leisure studies, according to College Factual, a higher education research firm.

The department is the first of its kind in California, encompassing a program that mirrors a national shift that blends sport, tourism, travel, lifestyle, conventions, meetings, events, experiential marketing, adventure, outdoor experiences, destination marketing, hospitality, community recreation and related industries.

Cal Poly’s program was selected by College Factual based on a methodology that included education quality, average earnings of graduates, and accreditation, among other factors. Cal Poly graduates earn more than 26 percent more than the standard graduate with the same degree from other colleges, according to the report.

“Recognition on a national level with the likes of the University of Illinois, Texas A&M University, the University of Utah, and Indiana University is a tribute to the exceptional quality of Cal Poly students and a faculty who embrace change and a futuristic view of disciplines that comprise the growing and evolving experience industry,” said Bill Hendricks, head of the Experience Industry Management Department.

Cal Poly students majoring in recreation, parks and tourism administration launched careers at some of the industry’s most compelling companies including the Los Angeles Clippers, Google, Pebble Beach Resorts, George P.Johnson Experience Marketing, and Snapchat among others, workingas destination marketing coordinators, global event strategy managers,experience design directors, tourism marketing directors, adventure travelguides, and more.


Opportunity in Bloom

Nine students majoring in agricultural and environmental plant sciences grew 4,191 poinsettias for Cal Poly’s annual poinsettia sale in December. They managed all aspects of the Poinsettia Agriculture Enterprise Project, from propagation of the plants to marketing and sales. “Working at the Horticulture Unit has allowed me to work directly alongside my professors and peers in the greenhouse, giving me lifelong connections,” said senior Kelsea Jones. “It has also given me the opportunity to really live the Learn by Doing motto, learn a lot about commercial sales and myself, and reaffirm my love for plants.”


Meet Our New Faculty

Angelos Sikalidis

Department: Food Science and Nutrition

Area of Specialty: Molecular Nutrition/ Metabolism

Education: Ph.D. in molecular nutrition – metabolism, Cornell University

Hometown: Thessaloniki, Greece

What book are you currently reading? “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief” by Jordan Peterson 

Stella Cousins

Department: Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences

Area of Specialty: Forest Ecosystem Ecology

Education: Ph.D. in environmental science, policy, and management, UC Berkeley 

Hometown: Ceres, California

What book are you currently reading? "t zero" by Italo Calvino/translated by  William Weaver


Ag Showcase

Cal Poly’s Agribusiness Management and National Agri-Marketing Association Club presents the annual Ag Showcase each year, recruiting more than 95 companies for the two-day event and giving students the opportunity to communicate and network with company representatives from a wide range of fields in the industry. Ag Showcase not only provides Cal Poly students with opportunities for internships and careers, it also allows representatives to showcase their companies and meet with potential employees.


Salmonson Scholarship for Excellence in Agriculture

Pictured from left to right: John and Carol Salmonson, agricultural and environmental plant sciences senior Heidi Burgess,
agricultural science senior Angel Carrillo, and  College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Dean Andy Thulin. 

John Salmonson (Crop Science, ’67) and his wife, Carol, recently met with the two students selected to receive the 2018-19 John and Carol Salmonson Scholarship for Excellence in Agriculture. The couple established the award in 2016 to benefit students in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences who  are in their sophomore year or higher and who are interested in a career as a  pest control advisor or a similar field. The Salmonsons pledged $50,000, which was matched by Brandt Consolidated — one of the nations largest  agriculture-related firms — and will provide scholarship funding to two students annually for five years. This is the third year it has been awarded.


Galaxy Desserts

From left to right: Job Ubbink, head of Cal Poly’s
Food Science and Nutrition Department,
Jean-Yves Charon, co-founder of Galaxy Desserts,
and Sarah Wally of Food Service Partners. 

Food Science and Nutrition  Department Head Job Ubbink  toured the production facility of Galaxy Desserts in Richmond, California, to discuss potential  partnership opportunities to  enhance students’ Learn by Doing opportunities. 


Annual Symposium

Pictured from left to right: Students David Bratcher,
Nico Kent, Madison Garzoli, Olivia Hall, Liam Hunt,
Jeremy Retornaz, Melissa Mannon, Ivy Thompson. 

The Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department hosted a reception for alumni and friends at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento in January. The annual two-day symposium is the largest wine and grape conference in the nation, providing current information on issues shaping grape growing and winemaking and offering networking opportunities for students.


Visit the Cultivate Spring 2019 Page to read more stories.

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