Allan Hancock College hosted an agricultural technology forum aimed at developing the "next generation of tech-savvy agricultural workers," Thursday.
The college partnered with the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to host the half-day event titled "AgTechX Ed."
The forum featured three discussion panels and several keynote addresses covering industry issues, skill identification, education, workforce development strategies and current and future workforce needs.
The event’s special guest speaker was Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, who was appointed in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Ross was initially appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011.
Charles McGregor, the general manager at GeoVisual Analytics, Blaire Swadley, director of human resources and legal compliance with Advanced Farm, Stephen Waldron, field automation supervisor with Plantel Nurseries, Matt Hart, the director of harvest automation with Bonipak and Rafael Davila, founder of Priority Sampling, LLC were scheduled to participate in a panel on industry issues.
For a discussion on education and workforce development strategies, the organizers invited Dorothy Farias, department chair at Ventura College, Erin Krier, a faculty member at Allan Hancock College, Paul Robinson, the CTE director with Santa Maria Joint Unified School District and John Gerrity, faculty at Hancock College.
George Adam, the owner of Innovative Produce, and Claire Wineman, the president of the Grower-Shipper Association of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, were invited to speak as industry leaders.