Farm Smart hosts luncheon for student interns

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(Pictured left to right) Stacey Wills, John Cummings, Caleb Chambers, Malei Tipton, Natalie Gonzalez, and Stephanie Collins pose at the Farm Smart luncheon that celebrated the students’ two week internship.

HOLTVILLE - The Farm Smart program with the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center hosted a luncheon for student interns and their parents Thursday at the Farm Smart facility in Holtville. Stacey Wills, program manager for Farm Smart, thanked parents and sponsors for their help with funding and other resources contributed to the program.

FARM SMART is an educational outreach program of the Desert Research and Extension Center located in Holtville, according to the Farm Smart website. It offers winter visitor and K-12 programs intended to teach about dairy farms, insects, and fruits and vegetables. Learning opportunities include tours, field trips, and internship programs.

The luncheon Thursday served as a thanks and a congratulations to the students for completing the program. Wills expressed her enjoyment of working with the students by giving them certificates of recognition.

“Congratulations, you guys. You did a fantastic job over the last two weeks. It was a pleasure working with you guys and I hope you enjoyed your time with the program and being able to experience the industry,” said Wills.

Wills thanked all attendees and served them a healthy lunch. After serving lunch, she played videos produced by the student interns. Each student’s video contained information on what they’d learned over the two-week program.

“Overall, participants had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of agriculture beyond the classroom through educational activities with professional development and youth empowering learning experiences,” said Wills.

The students took field trips to several places around the Imperial Valley to get a better understanding of what goes on in the agricultural world. They went to the Ashurst Bee Company, Bullfrog Farms, and they met with Imperial Irrigation District (IID) members to discuss the purpose of using canals in the Imperial Valley.

In their videos, the students took time to give special recognition to IID and the U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture). Roberto Gonzalez Jr, the regional director for southern California and Arizona, also participated in the luncheon representing the U.S.D.A.

Natalie Gonzalez, a 15-year-old student intern, demonstrated her gratitude with a special thanks.

“I wanted to say thank you to everyone who came; all the parents, supporters, business owners that came out to support us, and everyone who opened their doors to us,” said Gonzalez.

Wills said she and others in the Farm Smart program hope students in the Imperial Valley will take advantage of the agricultural programs, learn about what’s happening around them, and be a part of their community.