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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Organic farmer Javier Zamora named ‘Cooperator of the Year’

Javier in cover crop 1May 2, 2017

Over 50 people gathered at the Salinas Sports Complex on Friday, April 28, for  the Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Monterey County’s annual Stewardship and Scholarship Barbeque fundraiser. Agriculturists and environmental conservationists alike came together to enjoy food and fellowship, and to honor berry, vegetable and flower farmer, Javier Zamora as 'Cooperator of the Year'. Mr. Zamora’s dedication to conservation agriculture in his growing business, JSM Organic Farms, and his zeal for sharing what he has learned with farmers, students and others through presentations and tours on his farms, continues to inspire the agricultural community.

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Monterey & Santa Cruz County High School Students Compete in Land-judging Contest for Range Camp Scholarship

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March 10, 2017

Twenty-nine students from five local high schools in Salinas, Watsonville, Gonzalez and Soledad will be competing next week in a land-judging contest, hosted by the FARMS Leadership Program and Resource Conservation District. The land-judging contest will be held on farmland south of Salinas managed by the local farming company, Christiansen and Giannini LLC. During the contest, students will evaluate three separate soil pits, typically 5 feet deep and 15 feet long, using evaluation criteria established by the California Future Farmers of America (FFA) and a standardized Soil Classification System. Each student begins by judging a pit’s soil characteristics at ground surface level, and then climbs down into the pit to continue evaluating the soil structure below ground, as soil properties that affect fertility, drainage and plant rooting change with depth.

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