In this series, learn more about the 18 recipients of the Irrigation Association’s 2022 Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra Scholarship Program sponsored by Rain Bird, given to college students studying and pursuing careers in the irrigation field.
The scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, were awarded based on the candidate’s letter of intent, financial need, resume, list of irrigation courses and letters of reference.
Since the program’s inception in 2016, 107 students have been awarded scholarships.
Growing up in a town with a lot of agriculture is what initially sparked an interest in me to get involved. After getting accepted into the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department here at Cal Poly, my knowledge of agriculture vastly grew and I got much more involved.
Currently I work for the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly, where I have done projects involved with soil samples, pumps and water testing. I am also involved in the Agricultural Engineering Society here at Cal Poly and on top of those, a lot of my coursework is involved with agriculture.
I am proud of my work with ITRC. It gives me a lot of hands-on experience involved with irrigation and water.
I intend on working as a water engineer as my career. I would like to efficiently get water where it is needed with little waste.
Smart irrigation to me means to efficiently move water, with as little waste as possible. Smart irrigation also depends on what crop you are watering as each crop has different requirements.
Even when I was young, I was always interested in the environment. However, growing up in a suburban area with little to no agriculture, I did not see a career in this field. It was not till I started working at my job at Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District that I was exposed to agriculture, mainly crop agriculture. I was immediately fascinated by crop production and everything involved. I knew one day I would want a farm of my own.
As for experience in agriculture, I do not have actual crop production experience. However, working with MDRCD, I had the opportunity to assist farmers with their irrigation systems and improve them to increase and promote water conservation. I also have nursery experience; one of my many jobs there was to propagate seedlings for a farm in Cadiz.
One of my proudest moments in the industry was propagating over 1,500 seedlings for a farm in Cadiz at the nursery I work at. I propagated 500 seedlings of desert willow, 500 seedlings of quail bush, and 500 seedlings of blue palo verde.
Once I am done with undergraduate school, I am going to work towards getting my pest control advisor license, and my certified crop advisor license. With these licenses, I wish to become an agronomist and assist growers with their farms.
When I hear smart irrigation, I think of precision farming. Making every used resource count. For me, smart irrigation is applying the least amount of water and being effective as possible. Smart irrigation is working with the environment instead of against it. Applying less water during high rainfall, applying water when the soil moisture reaches a certain threshold.
Read about the other 2022 LaFetra Scholarship winners.
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