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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Fairbanks

February Newsletter: Why WET Center Works

Fresno State stands as a beacon of excellence in agricultural education, renowned for its comprehensive programs and commitment to nurturing future leaders in the field. With a rich history deeply rooted in the heart of California's agricultural landscape, Fresno State has continually evolved to meet the dynamic needs of the industry. As a premier institution, we take pride in our ability to provide students with hands-on experience, cutting-edge research opportunities, and unparalleled mentorship from industry experts. Our dedication to cultivating a diverse and innovative learning environment ensures that graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle the challenges facing modern agriculture.

At the Water, Energy, and Technology Center, we recognize the invaluable role that collaboration between academia, industry, and startups plays in driving innovation and sustainability within the agricultural sector. We are thrilled to seize the opportunity to bridge the gap between these entities, facilitating meaningful connections that foster growth and advancement. In the February edition of our newsletter, we asked three Fresno State seniors about their perspective on Agriculture in the Central Valley, their thoughts on “Ag-Tech”, and what they are seeing in the job market. Stay tuned to the end of this newsletter for exciting information about our WET Center Works Student Internship Program! 


Benjamin Garcia 

Tell us a little bit about yourself… Where are you from? What year in school are you? What are your interests and hobbies?


  • My name is Benjamin Garcia, I am a Fourth-year student here at Fresno State majoring in Agriculture Business. I was born and raised in the Central Valley, more specifically, a small town called Delano. My interests are vastly spread out from nature to science to agriculture. Some of my hobbies include working out, building PCs, and reading. I also partake in many community service events with my brothers from Beta Gamma Nu. 


What led you to choose Fresno State as the university to pursue your bachelor's degree?


  • Ultimately, I knew I wanted to attend Fresno State to pursue my major of choice because it was located right in the heart of California and is known for its Agriculture Business program. I took many trips to big UC campuses like UC Davis, Merced, Santa Barbra, and Cal Poly SLO, but all felt super overwhelming, making the move to a bigger city and leaving the Central Valley. Another big reason was affordability, the school has tons to offer for the price. 


Why Ag Business as your Major? 


  • The major kind of grew on me as Agriculture Business is something I grew up with and wanted to study. As a kid growing up in Delano, picking table grapes with my family every summer as a kid since I was 14, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Agriculture. The dream of having a large farm with a white picket fence was never a dream of mine. I always liked working with numbers so I knew I wanted to do business. In high school, I joined an AG Pathways program from my highschool which allowed me to dual enroll in high school and college courses. Here I learned a lot about AgriBusiness and decided to pursue it further.


How do you feel about the current state of job opportunities in Ag?  


  • Overall, the Agriculture sector has always had diverse opportunities, ranging from the traditional farmer to big positions in AgriBusiness, research, technology, and sustainability practices. The sector is only projected to grow as the popularity of technology, precision ag, and sustainability grows. 


In your eyes, what are some of the most significant issues facing the ag industry in the Central Valley today? 


  • In my eyes, water scarcity, drought, climate change, and land use are some of the most significant issues facing the ag industry here in the Central Valley. Water management resources have been a reoccurring problem. The Central Valley continues to face droughts. Land also continues to be encroached on as urbanization and housing projects are decreasing farmland. I believe the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will help rebalance the use of water and land. 


What does “ag-tech” mean to you? 


  • When I think about Ag-Tech, I immediately think of robotics, but I know it is much more than just that. Ag-Tech is the application of technology to ultimately improve efficiency,  productivity, and sustainability. Ag-tech is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the future of agriculture. 



Any final thoughts about your experience at Fresno State, the job market, or your outlook on the future in the Central Valley? 


  • The future of Fresno State and the Central Valley is looking great. Go Dogs!!

Kassidy Carlson

Tell us a little bit about yourself… where are you from? What year in school are you? What are your interests and hobbies?


  • My name is Kassidy Carlson. I was born and raised in Tracy, CA and I moved to Fresno for school. I am currently a senior at Fresno State and I am super excited to walk across the stage in May. Outside of school and working at the WET Center I love hanging out with my friends, working out, and reading! 



What led you to choose Fresno State as the university to pursue your bachelor's degree?


  • I chose Fresno State because I loved everything it offered academically and socially. It also wasn’t too far from home, which was a huge selling factor for me. 


Why Public Relations and Advertising as your Major? 


  • I chose public relations and advertising as my major because I’ve always hoped to work in marketing and social media. I started going down the business marketing path when I first came to school, but I realized I love branding. PR and advertising are more people and audience-focused, which allows me to be super hands-on! 



How do you feel about the current state of job opportunities in Ag?  


  • There will always be opportunities in Ag, but there is a growing need for new generations involved in Ag. There is so much potential and opportunity in areas like ag-tech and creating brand awareness for the “mom and pop” farms. 



In your eyes, what are some of the most significant issues facing the ag industry in the Central Valley today? 


  • I think that there is a lot of work to be done regarding water and soil conservation. The Valley is dealing with issues caused by the droughts in previous years. 



What does “ag-tech” mean to you? 


  • Ag-tech means technology and advancements being used to aid everything from crop production to managing crop fertilization. 



Any final thoughts about your experience at Fresno State, the job market, or your outlook on the future in the Central Valley? 


  • Being a Valley native, it’s super exciting to see all of the great things that are happening not only in the valley but here at Fresno State as well! 


Faith Garza

Tell us a little bit about yourself… Where are you from? What year in school are you? What are your interests and hobbies?


  •  Hi, I'm Faith Garza, and I am from Wasco, a small city in Kern County. Wasco is a tightly-knit community of agricultural families, and it is known for hosting a Rose Festival in September. I graduated from Wasco High School and transferred from Bakersfield Community College to Fresno State. I am currently in 4th year at Fresno State, working towards my B.S. in Agricultural Business. When I'm not studying for classes, you'll likely find me representing the Fresno State Ag Business Club/NAMA chapter as the Vice President. I've always been passionate about helping others and competitive swimming, so I coach children during the warmer seasons.


What led you to choose Fresno State as the university to pursue your bachelor's degree?


  • I chose Fresno State for my bachelor's degree because of its academic excellence, diverse campus community, and strategic opportunities. As an Ag Business major from the Central Valley, Fresno County was the ideal location as one of the top production counties in the US. I saw the potential to stay close to home while growing in my future career.


Why Ag Business as your Major? 


  • Ag Business was a decision I made based on my passion for helping my community. I grew up surrounded by agriculture and was automatically a candidate for my future career. My passion is to help innovate and improve the industry to provide food and services to people, especially my local community. My fascination with business principles and strategy also sparked my interest in combining them with agriculture.


How do you feel about the current state of job opportunities in Ag?  


  • The Ag industry has made immense strides in providing opportunities that are diverse and evolving. After talking with industry leaders and attending International conferences, I have noticed that roles that are high in demand are agribusiness management, sustainable agriculture, food science and technology, agricultural engineering, and precision agriculture. Despite climate change impacts and technological advancements, the agricultural industry is vital and has the potential for opportunities. As a college student, various events on campus have connected me with companies, but after college, it can be difficult to obtain a job because of the competitiveness of the labor shortage.


In your eyes, what are some of the most significant issues facing the ag industry in the Central Valley today? 


  • In the Central Valley, some of the most significant issues that the Ag Industry is facing are climate change resilience and water management and availability. With the current changes in climate, we are noticing different growing environments and weather patterns. California and the Ag industry will need to continue and innovate sustainable water management practices, water infrastructure, crop varieties, water-efficient irrigation systems, and other solution methods. With smaller and family farms, adapting to these changes to farm practice regulations will be costly, but the changes will be needed to sustain the industry’s productivity.



What does “ag-tech” mean to you? 


  • Agriculture technology is the innovation of agriculture practices by using technology and applications to improve efficiency, productivity, and resilience. Ag-tech is always advancing and optimizing resources to meet the demand for food despite environmental impacts and other issues. The technology that I am most interested in is robotics, drones, sensors, artificial intelligence, and digital platforms.


Any final thoughts about your experience at Fresno State, the job market, or your outlook on the future in the Central Valley? 

  • N/A. I have already written a lot.😂



Interested in hearing more about Ben, Kassidy, or Faith’s perspectives? Email info@wetcenter.org to get in touch with the students.


We want to empower students with experience by leveraging the region’s resources to support Ag-Tech innovation and commercialization! Our primary focus is to develop and implement an experiential, hands-on learning program that exposes undergraduate students to career opportunities in the ag-tech and water-focused industries. 

We are currently working with startup companies participating in or entering the ag-tech and water space. The WET Center Works program provides learning opportunities to undergraduates through fully funded, project-based work experience that pairs students with startup companies. Our mission with WET Center Works is to support and cultivate high-growth water, clean energy, and ag-technology ventures, foster business growth in California's Central Valley, and empower students to be part of the next generation of growth and change. Are you a student or a company interested in the WET Center Works program? Please contact samuelfairbanks@mail.fresnostate.edu for more information. 


*Note: Student internships are paid at $18 per hour and max out at 20 hours per week



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2月27日
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Great work!

いいね!
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