North Salinas High School Student Sweeps Land Judging Contest to Win Range Camp Scholarship

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October 19, 2017

FARMS Leadership students from North Salinas, Gonzales, Soledad, and Watsonville High Schools competed in a Land Judging Contest on September 28th. The Land Judging Contest is an annual competition where high school students compete in their ability to assess a soil’s capacity for supporting different land uses with emphasis on agricultural production. North Salinas High School student Kyla Monroe took first place by over 20 points. Luis Carrillo and Gregario Alfaro, both from Gonzales High School, tied for second and third place.

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Farm Tour Gives Local Influencers a First-Hand Look at On-Farm Conservation Practices

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October 16, 2017

Government representatives, community leaders, agriculturists and environmentalists joined RCDMC last Wednesday October 11th for the Farm Sustainability Practices Tour, which visited three farms across Monterey County. More than 30 guests attended the tour, which highlighted the work being done by the RCD and project partners, including Elkhorn Slough Foundation, Central Coast Wetlands Group, strawberry and vegetable farmers, and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA). Tour guests hopped on the charter bus at the RCD’s Salinas Office at 8:30 in the morning, to ride alongside RCDMC Executive Director Paul Robins, with guests including Assemblymember Anna Caballero, Monterey County District 4 Supervisor Jane Parker, and aides from Representative Jimmy Panetta and three County Supervisors’ offices.

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RCD Scholarship Awardee Wins Top Camper Prize at Range Camp

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Aug 23, 2017

This past June, Watsonville High School student Jacob Dixon was one of the 25 lucky campers from across the state to travel to UC Cooperative Extension’s Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay for California Range and Natural Resources Camp (aka ‘Range Camp’). Jacob received a Range Camp scholarship from the RCD after winning the RCD’s land-judging contest last March. The land-judging contest, hosted as part of the FARMS leadership program, is an annual competition where high school students compete in their knowledge and ability to assess a soil’s capacity for supporting different land uses with emphasis on agricultural production. This year’s contest included students from five high schools in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, but it was the students from Watsonville High who won the opportunity to attend Range Camp this past summer.

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RCD Biologist Helps Protect the Western Snowy Plover

Esther holds chickJune 6, 2017

Each spring, dedicated volunteers and scientists like RCD Field Biologist Esther Haile help California State Parks protect western snowy plovers of Monterey County by walking beaches and counting nesting birds. The western snowy plover has been a protected species in California since 1993, when numbers dipped so low that it was put on the State’s threatened species list. Although its range spans from Washington to Baja, California, about 400 of the 2000 existing snowy plovers nest exclusively on Monterey County beaches including Fort Ord Dunes State Park, and Marina, Zmudowski, Moss Landing, Salinas River and Monterey State Beaches.  We are currently about halfway through the nesting season, which typically lasts from March to September.

The western snowy plover is threatened in part because they lay their eggs on the sand, which leaves them open to trampling by people or dogs and predation by ravens, skunks and other predators. Many of the plover chicks do not reach adulthood. Habitat loss has also been a huge contributor to plover decline. Despite the challenges, Esther finds the plover work to be extremely gratifying. She says, “Whenever a chick makes it, I feel so proud, like a grandmother.”

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