by Mary Marsh, agricultural communication and journalism student
For my final summer of college, I decided to go home to California and get a job close to home. This summer, I am working as a field inspector for the California Crop Improvement Association. I am checking sunflower fields in my home county of Colusa. My role is to go to the sunflower fields around the county and make reports about what I see to make sure the crop is high quality, since these flowers are going to be harvested for seed.
I do three inspections throughout the growing season. My initial check is pre-bloom when the buds are just beginning to form. I look for different weeds in the field and for different varieties of sunflowers that may have grown in the field or within a mile to two-mile radius. Although it is not in the job description, I also keep an eye out for different pests causing problems in the sunflowers. During the two bloom checks, I walk out into the field and make sure there are no off-varieties that might affect the quality of seed. Being in the field is important to me, this job is all about getting in the thick of the sunflower action. I have about 90 fields to check around my county. Needless to say, I have been busy and have learned quite a bit about sunflower production!
Although my job is heavily focused on agronomy, I have found ways to keep my communication skills polished. I have brought my camera along with me and have made it my goal to document the various maturity stages in my fields. I also get to interact with agronomists and growers occasionally. So far, I have noticed a growing confidence in talking about field crops since taking this internship.