“Strawberries are going to be a model for all of us,” she said.
What had many attending the signing ceremony excited was Cal Poly’s “learn by doing” philosophy, where students are actively involved in research.
Victor Ramirez, strawberry commission chairman and a third-generation Watsonville-area strawberry producer, said young people are the future of the industry.
“They have the brain power, the expertise, the time and energy, and the desire to turn our dreams into progressive ways to improve our farming,” he said.
Not only does the philosophy give students hands-on experience, but it also exposes young people who didn’t grow up around farming to the industry and possible career choices, Murai said.
The center, to be based on the San Luis Obispo campus, will focus on multi-discipline approaches that involve all six of the university’s colleges, including liberal arts, said Jeffrey Armstrong, Cal Poly president.
That component caught the attention of Miles Reiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Watsonville-based Driscoll’s.
“I think it’s really interesting the way Cal Poly and the strawberry commission are looking to integrate the breadth of disciplines, so I think we’re going to find some gems in this relationship,” Reiter said.
Driscoll’s already benefits from the flow of talent from Cal Poly, both from interns and graduates it hires, he said.