October 24, 2017
Each year, the RCD holds a Speak-Off speech competition for area high school students, at which participants present a three- to five-minute speech on a conservation topic prompt to compete for a $50 cash prize. On Tuesday afternoon, three local high students—Sophomore Jessica Rodriguez-Reyez and Senior Jacob Dixon from Watsonville High School, and Senior Juan Rivera Perez from Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas—came to the RCD office to compete for who could most clearly, succinctly and persuasively address this year’s Speak-Off topic, “How can RCDs better involve their communities in conservation?”. Students gave their speech to a panel of independent judges.
All student presenters discussed the importance of getting youth involved in conservation. Juan Rivera Perez, the Speak-Off Competition winner, suggested specific strategies such as public outreach methods including social media and reaching out to Spanish-speaking communities. Other ideas that came from the student speakers included holding family-friendly workshops, providing K-12 education, including offering more students field trips to farms to learn from farmers. To engage children and adults alike, they suggested that ag literacy—a basic knowledge of agriculture—must be promoted throughout the community. Student Jacob Dixon noted that that many people live close to agriculture but don’t understand what’s going on, so it is important to teach people not only about agriculture itself but about resource conservation and sustainable agriculture, including the importance of eating locally-sourced foods.
As Monterey County’s Speak-Off winner, Everett Alvarez High School Senior Juan Rivera Perez (shown on right) took home the cash prize and will compete at the Central Coast Regional level next week for additional prizes. If Juan wins the regional contest, he will have the opportunity to proceed to the State Competition on November 17 in Sacramento.