Leading agriculture employers and education stakeholders launched an innovative long-term initiative dubbed "Growing Futures" on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in San Joaquin County.
The Lodi Winegrowers, Lodi Appellation Inclusion Collective (LAIC), and key agriculture industry players assembled to unveil this career-oriented program designed to provide inclusive and sustainable pathways into the region's agriculture jobs.
In an effort to increase diversity and inclusion in the local wine industry, the LAIC formed an Agricultural Partnership Board to foster the Career Connected Learning Initiative. The pilot program offers students internships at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Holt of California, and Acquiesce Winery in the upcoming summer.
"The formation of the Ag Partnership Board and the launch of the Career Connected Learning Initiative can be the engine for bringing more and more diverse talents into our industry and help provide good jobs to local youth who want to stay in our region," explained Rodney Tipton, LAIC Founder and co-owner of Acquiesce Winery.
A driving force behind this initiative is a partnership among the Lodi Unified School District, Delta College, and the Lodi Winegrape Commission, aiming to provide dual-enrollment for high school students earning college credits. This partnership allows students to gain first-hand experience in viticulture and agriculture, potentially carving their career paths in these domains.
“This program is so exciting because not only will it expose students to career opportunities that allow them to learn and earn at the same time, but they will also be taking college courses at Delta College in their career pathway of interest, earning them important credits for free," says Stacy Kahn, principal of Valley Robotics Academy, where the pilot program is being implemented.
In conjunction with San Joaquin A+, Lodi Unified School District and Valley Robotics Academy aim to expand the program in the 2023-24 school year. This ambitious endeavor envisions a thriving community with excellent educational and career opportunities for youth, an inclusive labor market, and an innovative and profitable agricultural industry invested in the next generation.
A central part of this mission is the newly-formed San Joaquin Agricultural Partnership Board. Comprising employers and educators across the region, the board is designed to help Agriculture-Focused Early College High Schools achieve their goals and serve as a resource to the Work-Based Learning Coordinator and school-based teams.
Lodi and the greater San Joaquin County, being among the largest wine industries in the US, are uniquely positioned for this initiative. With a staggering $2.4 billion economic impact and approximately 14,000 jobs directly and indirectly involved, the San Joaquin County wine and grape industry holds promising prospects for the aspiring students of the region.
In the words of Stuart Spencer, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, "Our success and our community’s success depend on growing local talent. Lodi growers and vintners are committed to mentoring, interning, and investing in future generations to sustain our winegrowing community for the long-term health and benefit of the entire region.”
Growing Futures": A pioneering initiative for student career growth in San Joaquin County's agriculture sector. Leading agriculture employers and education stakeholders launched this program to provide inclusive and sustainable pathways into local agriculture jobs. The initiative includes internships, dual-enrollment opportunities, and collaboration between schools, colleges, and industry players. With a $2.4 billion economic impact and 14,000 jobs, the San Joaquin County wine industry offers promising prospects for aspiring students. #CareerGrowth #Agriculture #SanJoaquin @acquiescewinery♬ original sound - Fat City Feed