Ventura College unveils new two-year agricultural business program

Pictured are Keith Barnard, VP of Sourcing at Mission Produce & Ventura College Foundation Board Member; Dr. Kim Hoffmans, President of Ventura College & Ventura College Foundation Board Member; Matt LaVere, Mayor of Ventura & Ventura College Foundation Board Member; Dorothy Farias, Faculty & Program Director, Ventura College Agriculture; Anne Paul King, Executive Director, Ventura College Foundation and Felicia Dueñas, Dean of Ventura College Career Education II. Photo by Bernie Goldstein

Mission Produce, the leading global supplier of high-quality retail and foodservice avocados, has installed a new one-acre commercial avocado orchard at Ventura College. The unveiling was held Wednesday, September 18. The company is providing a $15,000 in-kind donation to reinvigorate the orchard.

Because of the Mission’s generosity, Ventura College was able to enhance its agricultural programs and upgrade its orchard for a hands-on student experience. Students in the school’s new two-year agriculture business program will now be able to learn how a commercial orchard is maintained, avocados harvested, prepared for market and then sold. The Ag program will receive a portion of the avocado sales proceeds.

Students participating in the Agriculture program will apply knowledge of plants, animals, soils, and climates to environmental settings with understanding of basic principles of soil fertility and water quality. Students will predict plant growth outcomes by applying basic principles of botany, and be able to recommend management strategies in the use of Earth’s natural resources, including the ability to recognize, interpret, and recommend control strategies for common plant pests and diseases, and understand the implications of the use of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and integrated pest management principles used in Agriculture, Landscape Management, and Natural Resources Management.

Because agriculture is one of the top employers in the County, bringing in over two billion dollars, the goal is to introduce additional programs at Ventura College that get young people excited about potential careers in the industry. Keith Barnard, vice president of sourcing at Mission Produce and a member of the board of directors of the Ventura College Foundation, was instrumental in creating the Ventura College-Mission Produce partnership and reinvigorating the Ag program at the college. “One of the reasons I became involved with the Ventura College Foundation is because I believe in its mission to support students. Reestablishing the orchard was one of my goals as a board member,” said Barnard.

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