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Our enterprising students – majoring in everything from agricultural business to food science, from recreation, parks and tourism administration to animal science, from forestry and natural resources to agricultural communication – earn national awards and recognition year after year.  Check out some of their recent accomplishments:


NAMA winnersAgribusiness Students Take First Place in National Marketing Competition

Cal Poly’s National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA) Team earned first place at the 2011 National Agri-Marketing Association student marketing competition in Kansas City, Mo., April 13 and 14.

Of the 30 teams at the annual competition, Cal Poly edged out Purdue University, to take first place for the eighth time in 22 years.

“The team’s achievement is a testament to the quality of their dedicated teamwork, our faculty and the department as a whole,” said Brandon Banner, Cal Poly’s graduate student adviser.

The award-winning team of Agribusiness majors developed and presented a comprehensive marketing plan for their client, Peter Alvitre — a Cal Poly agribusiness alumnus who owns Future Fruit, LLC, a Visalia-based fruit producer holding exclusive patent rights to Liora seedless lemons. The winning strategy was built around marketing the patented seedless lemons to high-end full-service restaurants in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas,

Instrumental to the team’s success was their unique social media strategy. The six-member promotions team recommended using FohBoh, the targeted foodservice social media network, in addition to more conventional social media outlets. Banner said this creative element was one of the keys to the team’s success.

The team was comprised of fourteen students: Cameron Baccariani, Becca Fisher, Lyndsay Guttchen, Taylor Hansard, Alison Hart, Jackey Jeffus, Hayley Loehr, Leanna Lynch, Alyssa Nichols, Jeremy Pagaran, Garrison Rajkovich, Rene Strle, LeighAnne Thomsen and Jacqueline Van Ruiten.

Agribusiness faculty advisor Jim Ahern advised said “The team adapted their presentation to accommodate questions raised during their many practice runs. Each performance to faculty, students, parents, industry and early-round judges aided in the professional, award-winning final performance.” 

“This experience has really prepared me as an agriculture marketing professional,” said senior LeighAnne Thomsen of Newport Beach, CA. “The NAMA program and this national competition have been the most rewarding experiences of my education. They provided me with real-world simulations and enabled me to hone my marketing, creative and presentation skills.” As a graduating senior with three years of NAMA team experience and a degree in Agribusiness, Thomsen has a sales and marketing position waiting for her following June commencement. “The real-world application truly prepared me for a successful future.” 

About NAMA:

A nationwide organization, the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) consists of 24 local chapters with more than 3,000 professional and student members. Student NAMA chapters, with 1,300+ members from more than 30 chapters at leading universities and colleges, comprise an important part of NAMA's membership. For more information, go to


RPTA Quiz Bowl winnersQuiz Bowl Team Grabs Second National Title in Three Years

Cal Poly’s Recreation, Parks & Tourism Administration (RPTA) Department captured the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Academic Quiz Bowl championship in Anaheim, Calif.  The win marked Cal Poly RPTA’s second national championship in the three years since the contest’s inception.

Quiz bowl questions were based on accreditation standards and other categories related to the broader leisure services field using a Jeopardy-style game format.

The team included captain Jamie Dehn, students Jordaine McGinnity, Kevin Mould and alternate Hayley De Carolis.

Annual Academic Quiz Bowl, which coincided with NRPA’s Annual Congress, a national conference of more than 6,000 park and recreation professionals, students, and faculty from all over the United States. The Quiz Bowl questions were based on accreditation standards and other categories related to the broader leisure services field using a Jeopardy-style game format.

 “I could not be more proud of the way these students represented Cal Poly and RPTA,” said Brian Greenwood, associate professor and team coach. “Beyond the win, they carried themselves with class and professionalism.”

Four other collegiate teams competed in this year's single elimination competition, including Cal State-Long Beach, CSU Fresno, Texas A&M and Brigham Young University. The Cal Poly squad beat Cal State-Long Beach convincingly in the semifinals and defeated Texas A&M by a wide margin in the finals. Texas A&M defeated Brigham Young and CSU Fresno in a tightly contested semifinal match.

Department Head Bill Hendricks added “This year's victory is a tribute to the team’s dedication to learning, commitment to Cal Poly, and knowledge of our discipline. The students were simply amazing.”

The third annual Academic Quiz Bowl was held during the NRPA’s Annual Congress, a national conference of more than 6,000 park and recreation professionals, students and faculty from across the U.S.

For more information about NRPA, go to


Lauren CollinsworthGrad Student Takes First with Dairy Products Research

Cal Poly Dairy Products Technology Center Master of Science candidate Lauren Collinsworth took first place in the Sensory Evaluation Division of the Rose Marie Pangborn Memorial Graduate Paper Competition. The competition was held June 25-28 at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The presentation was titled “Evaluating the Change in Emotions During the Consumption Experience of Carbonated Orange Soda, Dairy Beverages, and Convenience Cheese.” Collinsworth was one of six finalists selected to present their graduate research. 

The award is presented annually by IFT's Sensory Evaluation Division executive committee to a graduate student for exemplary research and oral presentation of research and is judged on technical merit, writing and organization. “All the presentations were phenomenal, making the competition very difficult,” said Amy Lammert, assistant professor in the Cal Poly Dairy Science Department and chair of Collinsworth’s master’s degree committee.

Collinsworth earned dual bachelor’s degrees in food science and nutrition from Cal Poly in 2009. Upon graduation, she worked with the sensory group at the National Food Lab in Livermore, Calif., before returning to Cal Poly to work with Lammert. She continues to pursue her interest in sensory evaluation by studying the role of consumer emotional response to alternative health products, specifically low-sodium cheese, at the Cal Poly Dairy Products Technology Center. Her work is made possible in part by the financial support of the California Dairy Research Foundation and Dairy Research Institute.

The Dairy Products Technology Center (DPTC)

Established in 1986, the DPTC is a program in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The DPTC conducts education, research, and outreach activities to provide solutions to help manage risk, facilitate innovation, and defend equity in the dairy foods industry and related business sectors. For more information, go to

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

IFT is a community of food professionals from across the globe who have come together to advance the science of food. As the premier food science and technology organization, they bring together thousands of professionals working in all disciplines of the food industry, encourage the exchange of knowledge, provide formal and informal educational opportunities, and advance of the profession through advocacy efforts. IFT has 18,000 individual members, more than 50 regional sections, and 27 divisions representing separate areas of interest. For more information, go to


Xiomara Elias-ArgoteDairy Science Grad Student Takes First in the Nation

Dairy Science graduate student Xiomara Elias-Argote earned first place in a national Master’s Thesis Award Competition focusing on the food and agricultural sciences. The competition is sponsored by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.  “This is a great program that inspires Latin people to pursue higher education and creates connections between students and mentors.  I learned how to be a leader and to give back to the community by recruiting and inspiring other students to keep studying.” 

For her award-winning research in food safety, Elias-Argote received a $3,000 stipend, was designated as a USDA Graduate Fellow and participated in the AAHHE Career Preparation Institute in March.