The 2023 Crop Consultant Conference, hosted on September 27 and 28 in a collaborative effort by JCS Marketing Inc. and Western Region Certified Crop Advisers (WRCCA), saw another year of record attendance and provided the opportunity for crop consultants, industry suppliers, researchers and others to network and learn.
In addition to CCAs, PCAs and growers receiving much-needed continuing education credits during the Conference’s established dual education track, WRCCA also presented its fourth-annual Crop Consultant of the Year award and Allan Romander Scholarship and Mentor Awards.
Karl Wyant, Ph.D., director of agronomy at Nutrien and WRCCA Board Chair, presented the awards.
CCA of the Year
The CCA of the Year award recognizes a CCA in the western region (North Valley, South Valley, Coast and Desert) of the U.S. who has shown dedicated and exceptional performance as an advisor. The ideal candidate leads others to promote agricultural practices that benefit the farmers and environment in the western region. Selection criteria includes a peer nomination process, a scope of the CCA work, special skills and abilities, professional involvement and mentorship and community involvement.
This year’s CCA of the Year winner was Allan James, technical services agronomist at Mid Valley Agricultural Services. James is from Linden, Calif. and received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate at Iowa State University. He’s been consulting crops for over 35 years and a CCA since 2015.
“One of the great things about Allan is the expertise, having that experience really allows him to advise on crops, water and pest issues,” Wyant said.
James shared some words about what being a CCA means to him.
“I started out 43 years ago as a technical agronomist with a company out of Ripon, Calif.,” James said. “And I remember about three months after it started, I went home and told my wife, ‘This is the job I’ve been looking for.’
“I love the challenge of answering questions, solving the problem,” he continued. “Sometimes you say, ‘I can’t, I don’t know.’ And that’s really the joy of working in this business.
“Growers are exceptional, they have more backbone than anyone out there, our staff is exceptional. I couldn’t do what I do without them.”
Tracey Emmerick Takeuchi, plant science lecturer at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona; Richard Rosecrance, Ph.D., plant science professor at California State University, Chico; and Matthew Grieshop, Ph.D., director, Grimm Family Center for Organic Production and Research, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo were this year’s mentor award recipients. They were each nominated in the South Valley, North Valley and Coastal regions, respectively.
Takeuchi plans to use the award funds to support a student learning farm with both conventional and organic production through the purchase of a small, portable rototiller and high tunnel covers. Rosecrance plans to purchase temperature/light data, enabling students to conduct empirical investigations on dynamics of these within diverse orchard settings. Grieshop plans to support undergraduate and graduate student engagement in ongoing activities being managed by the Grimm Family Center at Cal Poly.
Curtis Lefler of Hanford, Calif.; Matt Young of Modesto, Calif.; Sarah Ramirez of Morgan Hill, Calif.; and Isidro Lizarraga of Yuma, Ariz. were this year’s scholarship award recipients. All had excellent track records of awards, leadership and community service as well as internship experience. They were each nominated in the South Valley, North Valley, Coastal and Desert regions, respectively.
Lefler plans to become a CCA and achieve a master’s degree in an agronomy-related field. Young plans to become a CCA this year, achieve a master’s degree in soil science and become a Certified Professional Agronomist. Ramirez also plans to become a CCA this year and pursue a position as a soil conservationist with USDA-NCS in American Somoa. Lizarraga plans to achieve a master’s degree in agronomy.
The recipients of this year’s scholarship and mentor awards play a vital role in the development of CCAs in the western region and will continue to educate growers and prospective CCAs in the future.
On behalf of the JCS Marketing Inc. team and Progressive Crop Consultant magazine, the editor would like to thank all that attended this year’s Crop Consultant Conference in Visalia. The conference was a huge success with another record-breaking attendance year of over 600 that enjoyed the valuable seminars, exhibitors, food and entertainment.