Student Success – Cultivate Summer 2021

Definition of Success

1 a: degree or measure of succeeding b: satisfactory completion of something c: the gaining of wealth, respect or fame 2: a person or thing that succeeds

A team of four Cal Poly agricultural business seniors won first place in the National Grocers Association 2021 Student Case Study Competition for their presentation on how grocers can combat the major economic issues caused by COVID-19 by staying competitive through their “local supply chains” against low-price operators. The Cal Poly team included students Katherine "Scottie" Lester, Joshua Smith, Annika Bertelsen and Amber Eckert. Agribusiness Associate Professor Ricky Volpe advised the team. Five schools, including Cal Poly, competed, delivering presentations and demonstrating how retailers with strong local supply chains were better equipped than their competitors in dealing with issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Eleven members of Cal Poly’s Rodeo Team qualified to compete in the 72nd annual College National Finals Rodeo held June 11-19 in Casper, Wyoming, where one student-athlete came away with a second-place win: Grant Peterson, a second-year agricultural systems management major, placed second in the steer wrestling event. Student-athletes who advanced to the finals are: Grant Peterson and Ethan Usher in steer wrestling; Maggie Usher and Hannah Steagall in goat tying; Karson Mebane and Quintin McWhorter in saddle bronc riding; Cole Tart in bareback riding; Kathryn Varian and Kelsey Cadwell in barrel racing; Jason Andersen in tiedown roping; and Tyree Cochrane in team roping.


The Cal Poly Dairy Challenge Team earned first place at the 19th annual Dairy Challenge, held virtually in April. The team, comprised of dairy science seniors Jacob de Jong, Derrick Nunes, Brandon Lemstra, and Brian Martin, was coached by Assistant Professor David Vagnoni, dairy science Lecturer Rich Silacci, and Assistant Professor Julie Huzzey. Students virtually visited a Wisconsin dairy to witness dairy operations and developed recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort, and labor and financial management after a small question-and-answer session with the dairy owners. This year’s contest included 24 universities, whose four-person teams competed for awards based on the quality of their team's farm analysis and appropriate solutions. Their farm presentations were evaluated by a panel of judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, finance specialists and seasoned agribusiness personnel.


More than 30 students presented their research on May 7 at the 2021 CAFES Spring Student Research Symposium, an annual event that allows students to present their research to each other, CAFES faculty and staff, and the broader community. The top three graduate and undergraduate student presentations included fungal disease management in strawberry plants, California land management and soil health in lemon orchards. Those honored include graduate students: first place, Valerie Lavenburg; second place, Mieko Temple; third place, Jack Koster; and undergraduate students: first place, June Murray and Terra Bilhorn; second place, Alexandra Ulans; and third place, Olivia Niederer.


Animal science students observed World Turtle and Tortoise Day on May 24 with a live-streamed webinar to inspire California elementary school children about the importance of turtle and tortoise conservation. The students, who provide daily care and husbandry for the on-campus colony of 17 leopard tortoises, created a lesson introducing young children to the animals, discussed careers supporting wildlife, and shared the hands-on experiences available to all Cal Poly students. This event is part of an ongoing educational outreach effort highlighting topics with California school-aged children. The Animal Science Department’s Reptile Husbandry Enterprise is a one-of-a-kind student opportunity to gain hands-on experience with non-domestic animal husbandry and research. Alumni currently serve in career positions of animal care, management and conservation in zoos, aquariums, and allied industries across the United States.


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