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Feather River Bulletin
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June 11, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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June 11, 2014
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, June 11, 20i4 7B Lassen we new lea The Lassen National Forest is pleased to announce Dave Hays as its new forest supervisor. Hays is the permanent replacement for former Forest Supervisor Jerry Bird, who retired around the first of the year. Hays comes to the Lassen from the Klamath National Forest, where he previously served as district ranger on the Salmon-Scott River District in Fort Jones. "I'm thrilled to be here on the Lassen," said Hays. "I'm looking forward to working with all who care about the management of their national forests." Hays grew up in Sacramento, where Little League, the Boy Scouts and high school distance running were all a big part of his life. After high school, he went on to California State University, Sacramento, where he continued to put in a lot of miles as an athlete in both cross country and track and field. While at Sac State, he earned a BA and an MA in English, and a teaching credential, and completed a minor in math. Hays taught junior high school for a brief time before making a career change to natural resources. As part of this transition, he returned to college at the University of Montana, earning a bachelor's degree in resource conservation. His first federal job was as a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington state. He spent about 12 years there, as both a ranger and park manager. Next, Hays spent about six years with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada, where he ended up as a field manager for the Black Rock Field Office in the northwest corner of the state. Hays came to the Forest Service in 2010, when he accepted the district ranger Dave Hays "A love of the outdoors and public lands is what I I brought me to a natural resources career and the U.S. Forest Service." Dave Hays Supervisor Lassen National Forest position on the Klamath National Forest. Along the way, he earned a master's degree in rangeland ecosystem science from Colorado State University. "A love of the outdoors and public lands is what brought me to a natural resources career and the U.S. Forest Service," said Hays. "My ideal vacation is active and outside. Any combination of fishing, hunting, cycling, hiking or camping usually keeps me pretty happy," added Hays. Not long after Hays could first walk, he started heading afield with his father on fishing and hunting outings. Today, he still enjoys both of those activities, along with a healthy mix of hiking, backpacking and spending time on his mountain and road bikes. Outside of work, Hays has been an active part of the communities where he's lived, and since 1994 he's been involved in fire suppression and emergency medical services. Prior to coming to the Lassen, he worked as a firefighter and advanced emergency medical technician in the small town of Etna. ricul Lindsay Woodcock Special to Feather Publishing According to a recent Hoover Institute poll of 1,000 Californians, strengthening the economy and improving the job situation topped their priority list. While the state's job market may still seem bleak to most, there are unique workforce shortages that are yielding high-wage regional career opportunities. But they're not in the tech, medical or service industries that might first come to mind. One of the brightest spots in California's job market is in agriculture, an industry that is quickly becoming one of the most popular career choices today. Agriculture and food manufacturing is one of California's largest industries, now grossing more than $44 billion a year, which generates at least $100 billion in related economic activity. In 2012, agriculture employed more than 400,000 Californians. There are currently more than 80,500 farms and ranches in the state, covering approximately 25.4 million acres of land. California has been the most productive agricultural state for more than 50 years, accounting for 15 percent of national receipts for crops and 7.1 percent of the U.S. revenue for livestock products. With the world population expected to grow by a few billion in 35 years, California's agriculture industry is expected to expand considerably to meet increased demand. This is great news for California, and the agriculturally rich central and northern regions of the state, but there is just one problem: currently there are not enough specialized agricultural workers to meet this growing demand, according to Greg O'Sullivan, deputy sector navigator of agriculture, water and environmental technology for Doing What Matters for Jobs .4. and the Economy, a workforce program created by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office. "Most people think agriculture is all farmers and ranchers, but there are more than 200 high-wage professional or specialized jobs such as crop and soil scientists, veterinarians, microbiologists, irrigation or bioprocessing engineers, environmental analysts, commodity traders and business managers," said O'Sullivan. "Unfortunately, many of those existing workers are retiring soon, and right now there is little awareness about these great career opportunities and few people pursuing these fields to replace them." O'Sullivan, whose job it is to help identify workforce skill gaps and attract new workers into the agriculture field, works to connect private sector businesses with community colleges to design pathways to degrees and certificates that will produce the next generation of local agriculture workers. O'Sullivan is responsible for California's far north region, including Shasta, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Plumas, Sierra, Tehama, Lassen, Modoc, Siskiyou and Trinity counties -- where agriculture accounts for nearly 295,000 jobs and 4,845 business firms. The agriculture industry in the far north region also exports 89 percent of its agricultural products to domestic and international markets, supplies about 36 percent of the locally grown products, and in 2012, generated more than $9 billion in revenue. With a lot of potential to be an agricultural leader in the state, O'Sullivan has been working in these counties .the past year to develop education programs that address each area's top workforce shortages. These shortages are identified by the private sector and the number of consistent job openings that cannot be filled due to the lack of skilled applicants. Some of the occupations in high demand of workers right now include pest control advisors, food safety officers, farm managers and food manufacturing first-line production and operation supervisors, which all earn annual salaries starting at $40,000. "Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy is helping small rural colleges in the far north prioritize science and skill-based programs that will provide direct pathways Into high-employment agricultural occupations," said O'Sullivan. "Butte College, Lassen College, Shasta College and College of the Siskiyous are all developing new agriculture curriculum in interesting water and agriscience subjects that we hope will inspire students to enter the field and become their foundation for a certificate or degree." In Susanville, Lassen College recently began working with a major irrigation company to build new curriculum around irrigation management and water conservation. The college currently offers two transferable associate degrees in agriculture and four certificate programs in animal science, agriculture business, agriculture science and technology and horsemanship. The new irrigation curriculum will add a fifth certificate program that allows students to become pivot irrigation technicians. Butte College in Oroville is currently working on developing an online weed science course and lab that will fulfill one of the rbquired courses to become a pest control advisor. Discussions are also underway to make the weed science lab mobile, which will make it available to students at other regional community colleges. Butte . ShastaCo ege.edu. College currently offers associate degrees, transferable credits and certificate programs in agriculture business, agriculture science, environmental studies, environmental horticulture and mechanized agriculture. Since the beginning of the year, faculty at Conege of the Siskiyous have been in the process of bringing back several introductory agriculture courses that were deactivated several years ago. This past fall, Shasta College was the first to launch a full-scale pest control advisor preparation program that will allow students to become licensed PCAs in approximately two years. The Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy program has provided these community colleges grant funding, strategic guidance on identifying labor priorities and opportunities, and industry resources to assist in developing new curriculum modules that win expand their agricultural course offerings. The new curriculum modules will give students access to the classes they need to pursue professional certifications or transfer on to four,year universities to complete a degree. O'Sullivan continues to reach out to businesses and educators to look for new opportunities to create effective community college programs that will attract new workers, lessen unemployment and create excitement about the agriculture industry. "As we educate people about modern agriculture, they are realizing there is more to the field than just farming," said O'Sullivan. "There are many linear disciplines in the support, production and trade of agriculture that offer many rewarding days working outdoors and high-paying career paths." Contact Greg O'Sullivan at 242-7630 or gosullivan@ Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications Broadband Business Services via Fiber OUS st Internet. PST Fiber vs. T1 (onrmction: 10x the Speed--A Fraction of the Cost! www.plumassierratelecom.com 800.221.3474 or 530.832.4126 CALL TODAY! PST is a subsidiary of Local. Trusted. Ptumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative. Serving ServinR Ptumas, Lassen, Sierra ~ ~ YOU. and Washoe counties since ?937. 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