News and Notes - Spring 2023

Networking in the College

Students attended two college-sponsored career networking events in the fall and winter quarters, meeting with more than 100 industry professionals across a broad spectrum on companies in the food, environmental, agriculture and wine sectors. The CAFES Connections event, held in November, was launched in 2021 to assist students in fostering new professional connections, as well as helping them to gain awareness of the various careers and industries available to them. In addition, the longstanding, student-led Ag Showcase, managed and organized by students in the college’s Agribusiness Management and National Agri-Marketing Association Club, was held in January. At both events, students were given the opportunity to interview with industry professionals for internships and full-time employment opportunities.


USDA Grant Funding

From studying disease resistance in baby leaf salad greens to finding sustainable ways to use the byproducts of olive oil production, the college was awarded more than $850,000 in 2022 through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – allowing faculty and students to do increased research in areas that have a direct impact on California and beyond. On Jan. 21, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt, U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal, and U.S. Representative Jimmy Panetta visited Cal Poly to announce $72.9 million of grant funding is available in 2023 through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Assistant Professor Shunping Ding and graduate student Reilly Blair presented their related research on baby leaf salad greens during the visit.


World AG Expo

The college, in partnership with Cal Poly Alumni, hosted an Alumni and Friends Reception at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, on Feb. 15. Throughout the week-long event the CAFES Ambassadors, a college-wide student organization that represents the college, shared the latest college happenings with prospective students and alumni.


Unified Wine and Grape Symposium

The Wine and Viticulture Department hosted a booth at Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, an industry-wide trade show and program in Sacramento from Jan. 24-26. The college also hosted an Alumni and Friends Reception to discuss the latest developments in the department.


Director of Development

Abigail McCullough joined CAFES in December 2022 as director of development. McCullough comes to Cal Poly with 15 years of experience working in fundraising and program development. She earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from California State University, Sacramento, and began her career in fundraising with Boy Scouts of America. Most recently, she worked as an assistant director of development at UC Davis as a liaison to the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Outside of work, McCullough is an avid horse rider and enjoys fostering kittens.


New Department Head

George Gallagher joined the Animal Science Department in February as the new department head, replacing Jaymie Noland, who retired from the post in 2022. Gallagher was previously a professor in the Berry College Animal Science Department in Georgia, where he served as chair of that department. Gallagher has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal sciences from New Mexico State University and a doctorate degree in reproductive physiology from Washington State University. "My previous institution and Cal Poly have much in common. Both are predominantly undergraduate institutions with a focus on hands-on learning. and have strong animal science programs,” said Gallagher. “I have had Cal Poly on my radar for some time waiting for the right opportunity. I am honored and excited to be a part of the Animal Science Department at Cal Poly."


Cal Poly Strawberry Center

The Cal Poly Strawberry Center was recently named the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s 2022 Integrated Pest Management Achievement award winner. The Strawberry Center helps advance integrated pest management and sustainability in strawberry production through prolific research and outreach programs with a focus on plant pathology, entomology, and labor automation. The center also provides training for undergraduate and graduate students who plan to advance to positions within the strawberry industry and carry the center’s integrated pest management and sustainability philosophy throughout California and beyond. Each year the Department of Pesticide Regulation honors California organizations for their integrated pest management achievements, recognizing organizations and individuals that are leaders in using reduced-risk pest management practices and sharing their successful strategies with others.


Aspire to Grow

The college hosted the fifth annual Aspire to Grow Conference in February, exploring innovation in food, agriculture, and natural resources. The symposium, focused on the theme of perseverance and the role diversity of thought and experience plays in achieving this, was attended by students, staff and faculty from across the university, as well as from area community colleges and high schools. Featured speakers included Hilary Graves, vineyard and grower relations manager at Booker Vineyard; Boris Coto Calvo, head of field solutions at Bayer Crop Science North America; Alexandra Roberts, food safety manager at Rice Fruit Company; Roxanna Smith, senior relationship manager of Agribusiness, Food and Hospitality at Wells Fargo Bank; and Heidi Vasseur, senior manager of fertilizer, plant nutrition and seed compliance at Nutrien. The Aspire to Grow Conference, sponsored by Nutrien Ag Systems, aims to inform and empower students from across campus about the many and varied career opportunities in these industries. It also creates a forum for students to learn from and network with companies for which diversity and inclusion are an essential part of their visions. The event is planned each year by students.


Schedule of Upcoming Events

APRIL 13-15

Cal Poly Open House

April 15

Ag Pavilion 
9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

Alumni Beer and Wine Garden 
2 to 4 p.m.

April 16

Tractor Pull
1 to 3 p.m.

APRIL 14-15

Poly Royal Rodeo

JUNE 2-3

Performance Horse Sale




Visit Cultivate Spring 2023 to read more stories.

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