IRVINE, Calif. — Western Growers received a $750,000 grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (HR 133) to develop and implement a curriculum to provide California college students with best-in-class agtech training.
Besides the 2,750 students that will be assisted by the program, the grant will allow the specialized training of 330 Next Gen Ag Workforce professors within four years of launch. Curriculum development will begin immediately and be fully implemented by June 2025.
“Western Growers is excited to work with CDFA and California’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities to build strong cross-disciplinary programs to help the next generation of farmworkers,” said Walt Duflock, WG’s Vice President of Innovation. “This grant gives us a chance to create new programs statewide to develop the key skills students need to work in agtech innovation – from engineering to agronomy to biology to computer science. This collaboration between WG members, partners and California educators will ensure growers and agtech companies get access to the most highly-skilled graduates in the nation.”
A preview of the Next-Gen Ag Workers Curriculum will be given at three upcoming events that are part of Western Growers AgTechX Ed initiative, a statewide effort developed alongside CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. The next event will be held Jan. 26, 2022 at Imperial Valley College, and will feature panels on Industry Issues and Skill Identification; Education and Workforce Development Strategies; a roundtable with agriculture CEOs and a fireside chat with Ross.
Additional AgTechX Ed summits in 2022 will be held at Hartnell College and Woodlands College. The first week-long Next Gen Ag Worker Summit is being planned for the summer of 2022 at Santa Clara University. For more information, please visit AgtechWorkforce.com.
Funding for the Development of Next-Gen Ag Workers Curriculum and Scale Strategy was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 21SCBPCA1110. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Western Growers’ members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce. Connect and learn more about Western Growers on Twitter and Facebook.