Earlier in the month of April, 41 students and 3 advisors loaded up into a tour bus to experience South Western Oregon Agriculture. Otherwise referred to as the “SWAG Tour”, students got to explore farms, ranches, businesses, and the beach.
The tour started in Corvallis on Friday morning, and then headed towards Winston, Oregon for the Wildlife Safari. From there, the group headed towards Jackson County for a refreshing lunch with Northwest Farm Credit Services. After our pit stop, the SWAG Tour continued to Central Point, where the group explored a family owned and operated cattle ranch. From there, the SWAG Tour satisfied their sweet tooth at Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolates (with free samples!).
Later that afternoon, the group stopped at Del Rio Vineyards. After getting a tour of the vineyards, fermentation room, and storage cellars, the evening was concluded with a tri-tip dinner provided by Crater FFA. During dinner, the Crater FFA Advisors spoke to the students about the importance of connections. Connections are not only important to an Agricultural Educator, but also to industry leaders.
Saturday morning was started bright an early with a trip up to Willow Witt Ranch in Ashland, Oregon. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate as nicely as hoped for, the snow didn’t stop the tour bus. The group then headed back down the hill for another vineyard in Grants Pass, where students of age could taste the wine. The SAWG tour then continued across state lines to Smith River, CA, where the group got to learn about the production of Easter Lilly bulbs at Dahlstrom and Watt Bulb Farm. The SWAG Tour participants then settled in for the night in Brookings, and awaited the adventures of the final day of the tour.
Sunday morning was kicked off with a splash, as the group headed down for a stroll on the beach. After everyone had their beach fix, the group headed to a local blueberry farm that is known for their ‘U-Pick’ program. Students enjoyed being able to purchase frozen blueberries and then go out to the field to see the blueberry plants. From there, the SWAG Tour headed to Face Rock Creamery. Many cheese samples later, the tour was ended at Bandon Dunes Golf Course, where the group learned about turf and recreation management.
After spending 3 days on a tour bus and being able to see many different parts of the agricultural industry, students filled out a short survey to evaluate the trip. The Agricultural Executive Council found that 91% of the attendees felt better prepared for a job after college. The Agricultural Executive Council’s main goal was to better prepare students for entering the workforce after graduation, and providing an opportunity like the SWAG Industry Tour is one of the most successful events every year.