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Careers in Food Safety

Investigators
Bolt, Dave
Institutions
West Hills College Lemoore
Start date
2009
End date
2011
Objective
West Hills College, a two year institution located in California's Kings County, plans to increase the diversity and number of students seeking careers in food safety, thus enhancing the protection of our national food supply. This project will combine new curriculum and laboratory upgrades with recruitment efforts to increase the number of Hispanic student in agricultural studies by 25 percent.

New certifications in Biotechnology (BCP) and Quality Assurance Technology (ATCP) and new Associate Degree in Biotechnology will give students greater ability to compete in the job market as well as transfer to a four-year university into such majors as food processing or agricultural engineering. The anticipated number of students to be impacted, in the first two years alone, is 80.

The food safety industry is an emerging field, projected to maintain high in California as long as there is demand for food. Career opportunities include government, such as the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), corporate grower relations, food processing technicians or independent consultants. This project will contribute to academic enhancement by increasing the breadth and depth of agriculture technology being taught at the colleges.

New laboratory equipment and classes will train 20 students annually in Safety in Dairy Processing, Food Manufacturing Safety, Biotechnology and Quality Assurance, that will make them ready to serve in the food safety industry. Renovation of existing classrooms into suitable laboratories will be completed including the installation of scientific instrumentation required to conduct appropriate laboratory experiments. The college will use bilingual materials as part of an outreach effort to 400 high school and 100 community college students, resulting in a 20 percent increase in annual enrollment in the college program beyond baseline year, including a 25 percent increase in Hispanic enrollment.

A special focus will be on dairy production and processing due to the locale of WHC Lemoore and Kings County. California produces one out of every five glasses of milk consumed in the nation with combined dairy processing in Kings County exceeding seven million pounds of milk per day. The job opportunities in dairy processing are high with 15 creameries located within 30 miles of Kings County, including Kraft, Haagen-Dazs, Marquez Bros. International, Land 'O Lakes and Leprino Foods (Kings County Farm Bureau Website.)

This project will utilize existing classes and vocational training as a core to expand into additional career tracks supporting ag manufacturing and industry in Central California. These instructional programs will continue on after this USDA CSREES HSI grant has piloted the program. Total number of students affected in the future will be considerably higher because this grant is establishing new, permanent instructional programs. In addition this project will strengthen WHC Lemoore and our partners in several ways: new curriculum, new lab and instructional equipment, improved informational materials including electronic formats, increased enrollment and pipeline of students, and stronger industry partnerships.

More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: To keep pace with the ever-increasing demand to produce graduates capable of enhancing California's food and agricultural scientific work force, West Hills College Lemoore, in collaboration with West Hills College Coalinga and College of the Sequoias, three Hispanic Serving Institutions, will create two new certificates: Biotechnology and Quality Assurance Technology, new food safety courses in dairy and food manufacturing and a degree option in Biotechnology as a career pathway for food safety and agricultural manufacturing. Career opportunities include government, such as the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), corporate grower relations, food processing technicians or independent consultants. This project will contribute to academic enhancement by increasing the breadth and depth of agriculture technology being taught at the colleges. This will increase the number of graduates with an associate degree in the food and agricultural sciences and will increase the quality of postsecondary instruction within these disciplines, thus fulfilling both USDA HSI Education Grants Program Goals. Two of the current USDA Strategic Goals are also supported, 4.1: Reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses and contaminants through education and extension and 3.2: Provide research, education and extension to improve the quality of life in rural America. With recent advances in the food and agricultural sciences, biotechnology has developed into a major growth industry in California and nationally. The Biotechnology Certificate program offers competency-based instruction designed to educate new students and to retool individuals with previous workplace experience and prepare them for entry-level positions in the bio-manufacturing industry. The required coursework provides an overview of the field of biotechnology and includes learning related scientific concepts and skills. Emphasis is on hands-on training in the actual techniques that are employed in our regional agriculture industries. The following Priority Need Areas are the focus of this project: (a) reshape curricula for a changing agricultural system; (d) acquire scientific instrumentation for teaching; and (f) recruit and retain underrepresented students. New certifications in Biotechnology and Quality Assurance Technology and new Associate Degree in Biotechnology will give students greater ability to compete in the job market as well as transfer to a four-year university into such majors as food processing or agricultural engineering. Ten new courses will be developed to provide a strong foundation in food safety. The anticipated number of students to be impacted, in the first two years alone, is 80. Renovation of existing classroom into a suitable laboratory and installation of scientific instrumentation will be performed, providing access for 125 students each semester as an on-going resource. The college will use bilingual materials as part of an outreach effort to 400 high school and 100 community college students, resulting in a 20 percent increase in annual enrollment in the college program, including a 25 percent increase in Hispanic enrollment.

APPROACH: This project will combine new curriculum and laboratory upgrades with recruitment efforts to increase diversity and number of students seeking careers in food safety.

Step 1: Biotechnology and Quality Assurance Technology Certificate Programs as well as Safety in Dairy Processing, Food Manufacturing Safety, Biotechnology and Quality Assurance courses will be developed and institutionalized by faculty in conjunction with an industry advisory group. College Curriculum Committees and California Community College Chancellor's office will review for approval. Biotechnology and Quality Assurance Technology Certificate programs include coursework in chemistry, biology, technology, engineering and physics. These multidisciplinary programs will enable rural Hispanic students to acquire the broad base knowledge and skills needed for smooth transition into the biotechnology workforce or to a four-year baccalaureate program.

Step 2: Renovation of existing classroom into a suitable laboratory will be completed and scientific instrumentation, required to conduct appropriate laboratory experiments, will be ordered and installed. All partner colleges are located in rural areas with high unemployment and minimal level family income. Resources will be used to create a science laboratory that will benefit current and future students and ultimately strengthen regional ag manufacturing. Students will have access to services not otherwise available to community members living in isolated, rural areas.

Step 3: In Fall 2010, the first students will begin the Biotechnology and Quality Assurance Technology Certificate Programs. Students will be engaged in Learning Communities linking technical and academic classes to reinforce the holistic nature of learning. A large portion of the district is employed in agriculture and is supportive of agricultural education. Vocational programs that incorporate the foundation skill sets needed are currently being offered; therefore, a recruiting base from which to pull students is available. The development of bi-lingual agriculture career resources will increase awareness of career opportunities for 400 high school and 100 community college students, thus increasing enrollment in the program by 20 percent.

Step 4: The evaluation methodology of the stated outcomes are as follows: industry members will evaluate course material and employability of students completing the program, new science laboratory and instrumentation will meet community college standards for agriculture food safety, and an external evaluator will be employed to assess project objectives and outcomes. Ultimate effectiveness will be established by the creation of certifications, all with a variety of applied academics and hands-on courses. Student enrollment numbers will increase by 25 percent annually and programs will become institutionalized. The science laboratory will provide access for 125 students each semester as an on-going resource.

Step 5: These instructional programs will continue after this grant has piloted the program and total number of students affected in the future will be considerably higher.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
CALE-2009-01216
Accession number
219011
Categories
Legislation and Regulations
Food Defense and Integrity
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Education and Training