West Hills Essential Elements series continues with look at Broadband in the Valley

From West Hills College
West Hills Essential Elements series continues with look at Broadband in the Valley

West Hills Community College District’s premier public and private policy series – Essential Elements – will continue Nov. 8 with the sixth session in the series: Grow Food, Grow Jobs – Ag Tech Broadband Pilot.

Tickets to the session - to be held at the Harris Ranch Inn and Conference Center (24505 W. Doris Ave. near Coalinga) - are now available at no cost at www.essentialelementsseries.com.

This session will explore the issue of broadband accessibility in rural Central Valley communities and the Central Valley agriculture industry and serve as an organizing session for the nation’s first broadband pilot focused on agriculture.

“Global needs require Central Valley responses,” said Dr. Linda Thomas, West Hills Community College District Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development. “This is what Essential Elements is all about. It enables state and regional leaders to collaborate and act toward ensuring the San Joaquin Valley’s sustainability. Lack of broadband access in our rural communities and agriculture industry impedes innovation and education and, with our broadband pilot, we aim to bring this conversation to the forefront while also generating real solutions.”

Based on the findings from a survey of farmers regarding agriculture technology adoption and broadband needs conducted by WHCCD Farm of the Future and Western Growers, this year’s Essential Elements leaders will tackle the broadband accessibility issue and develop a plan to increase broadband access in the Central Valley.

This organizing session will bring together the major players and knowledge to organize a broadband pilot with WHCCD and other assets deployed in the Coalinga-Firebaugh-Five Points area. They will analyze existing facilities and infrastructure and discuss the technology needed as well as charting next steps and exploring possible funding sources to increase broadband accessibility in the Central Valley.

Confirmed speakers include Hon. Anna Caballero, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee; William Bourdeau, executive vice president, Harris Ranch and director, Westlands Water District; Robert Tse, California economic development officer, USDA; Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer, UC Agricultural & Natural Resources; Dennis Donohue, executive director, Western Growers’ Innovation Institute; Gladys Palpallatoc, vice president, California Emerging Technology Fund;  and Robyn Krock, program manager, Valley Vision et al.

West Hills Essential Elements series continues with look at Broadband in the Valley

Panels will include discussions on the importance of broadband access to both rural communities and the agriculture industry and other, related issues. Panelists will consist of experts from throughout the field of agriculture technology, state and regional leaders and business leaders from across the state.

“Two unprecedented and disruptive changes are converging to drive broadband in San Joaquin Valley agriculture: ag tech is accelerating, driven by rampant innovation and a growing labor shortage and complex new regulations, especially in water, are causing a historical burden on farmers. Broadband enables compliance with these regulations,” said Thomas.

WHCCD is collaborating with the following partners on this event: the California Emerging Technology Fund, San Joaquin Valley Partnership, Valley Vision, several telecom providers and the AgTech Roundtable, a pro bono group whose members include executives from UC Ag & Natural Resources, CDFA, USDA, Public Utilities Commission Broadband Council, legislative committees, State Water Board, Western Growers and individual farmers and ag tech companies. The Gualco Group, Inc. is a co-founder.

Tickets are available now for this no-cost, unique event. To register or for more information about the Essential Elements, visit www.essentialelementsseries.com.

For questions, contact Kathy Finster at kathyfinster@whccd.edu or 559-934-2141.


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