Western Growers Receives $750,000 CDFA Grant to Develop Next-Gen Ag Workers Curriculum; Walt Duflock Discusses
IRVINE, CA - A huge part of our industry’s efforts involve preparing the next generation of agricultural leaders, and Western Growers (WG) is one organization at the helm of these efforts. Most recently, WG was awarded a $750,000 grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (HR 133). An estimated 2,750 students will be assisted by the program, which will include the specialized training of 330 Next Gen Ag Workforce professors.
“Western Growers is excited to work with CDFA and California’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities to build strong cross-disciplinary programs to help the next generation of farmworkers,” said Walt Duflock, Vice President of Innovation. “This grant gives us a chance to create new programs statewide to develop the key skills students need to work in agtech innovation—from engineering to agronomy to biology to computer science. This collaboration between WG members, partners, and California educators will ensure growers and agtech companies get access to the most highly skilled graduates in the nation.”
Curriculum development begins immediately and will be fully implemented by June 2025, according to a press release. WG will provide a preview of the Next-Gen Ag Workers Curriculum at three upcoming events as part of its AgTechX Ed initiative. The next event will be held January 26, 2022, at Imperial Valley College. The event will feature panels on Industry Issues and Skill Identification, Education and Workforce Development Strategies, a roundtable with agriculture CEOs, and a fireside chat with CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.
WG will be holding additional AgTechX Ed summits during 2022 at Hartnell College and Woodlands College. The first week-long Next Gen Ag Worker Summit is reportedly being planned for the summer of 2022 at Santa Clara University.
Cheers to Western Growers on receiving this integral grant! We can’t wait to see more from the ag leaders of tomorrow.