Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School eighth graders got a preview of agricultural technology innovations at a major industry event in Salinas on September 20.
The students attended FIRA USA, an annual event focused on autonomous and robotic agricultural solutions. They saw demos that showcased a cart that can follow workers as they harvest produce, a tractor that removes weeds using lasers, a drone that can detect if a particular plant needs water, and more.
At each stop, students could talk directly to engineers, developers, and company founders about their products. Students asked questions about how jobs will be affected by new technologies, what skills and knowledge workers will need, and what developers studied in college. They also got to hear from State Sen. John Laird, who explained he was at the event to be better informed as he helps to shape laws around agriculture.
Parent Bart Walker of Pacific Ag Rentals helped organize the field trip and arranged two private demos with Monarch Tractors and AgTonomy, which specialize in electronic autonomous tractors and software.
The field trip exposed students to the variety of ways technology can be used to shape a major Monterey County industry, as well as provided them a glimpse into future careers and ways to promote sustainability.