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Agriculture has plenty to offer, students told during Ag Futures Day

January 12, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — When Richard Zinn was growing up in the Imperial Valley he didn't know anything about agriculture's career possibilities.

Now as a professor of animal science at the University of California, Davis, Zinn told local students about his professional experiences as one of several presenters at the second annual Ag Futures Day Thursday.

The event, at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center here, sought to inform Imperial County Future Farmers of America students of the many jobs in agriculture and environmental science.

"We need to expose them to these fields, these careers," Zinn said

On television, Zinn said, kids only see doctors, lawyers, athletes and law enforcement officers. High school students know little about jobs in agriculture and related fields, he said.

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Though Marina Martinez, a senior at Holtville High School, has been an FFA member for three years, she was learning a lot of new things Thursday.

"Their jobs are neat," Marina, 17, said of the presentations she'd seen that morning.

Despite her interest in FFA, Marina plans to leave her agricultural background behind after school to become a fashion designer. She is, however, not ruling out other possibilities.

"I'm here to see if they can convince me," Marina said, smiling.

Elda Martinez knows all about changing career paths.

"We didn't have a career day when I was in high school," said Martinez, an Imperial Valley native.

Growing up, Martinez planned to be a veterinarian. When she changed her mind and became a plant protection and quarantine inspector at the international border instead, her father wasn't pleased.

"He wanted me to study something in the sciences, to be a doctor," Martinez said.

Seeing her as happy as she is in her job, he admits he was wrong, Martinez said.

"It's important to go to school," Martinez told Marina and other students.

"It's OK to change your mind and study something else," she said, adding that students should "study what you like."

As students moved from one presentation to another and listened to a keynote speech by a San Diego State University, Imperial Valley campus professor Carol Ann Dorn, they learned about everything from animal research and sugar cane production to whitefly resistant alfalfa and earthquakes.

Sponsored by the UC research center and the Imperial County Office of Education's school-to-career program, Ag Futures Day may have encouraged many FFA students to pursue careers in ag and environmental science.

As for Richard Zinn, going into animal science was the best decision he could have made.

"I love this work," said the professor. "It's so fun."

Staff writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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