Blog Written By ACE Ambassador: Thomas Weger
The ACE department within the College of ACES presents many opportunities to their students year in and year out. Last year, I was fortunate enough enroll in a class that compared agricultural practices and policies in the Midwest and the West Coast. The class, taught by Dr. Scholl and Jessa Barnard, was capped off with a trip to California over spring break that enabled us to experience agriculture there first-hand. During our stay in California, we were fortunate enough to tour chicken, dairy, and beef cattle farms and learn about how farming in California is quite different than the Midwest due to differing politics, resource issues, and natural environmental differences. We were also able to meet with representatives of large Ag companies like Valent, Grannular, and Bayer Crop Sciences just to name a few. Meeting political figures like the California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, was an incredible experience. Meeting with these people served as a great way to get our foot in the door with these companies and as a way to network with figures who are revered in the agriculture industry. Our time in California was spent around the San Francisco area and the San Joaquin Valley area which while being extremely beautiful is also a region that is steeped in agriculture. In fact, if California were its own country standing alone, it would have the 7th largest agriculture economy in the entire word. I am extremely thankful for the ACE department for giving me, an Illinois farm boy who had never seen the West Coast, the opportunity to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime experience at a fraction of the cost it would take to pay for this trip out of my own pocket.