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Tasting room on Grandview campus

Ag program highlighted during open house event

Outreach and giving back are two things that Carolina ‘Cat’ Warwick is passionate about. Warwick, who graduated from YVC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Winery Technology and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Management degree, continues to be involved with YVC’s Agriculture program and provide support to current students.

“This college and program are very important to me,” says Warwick. “The program emerged just as I figured out that this was the industry that I wanted my career in. If it weren’t for YVC catering their programs to working adults, I would not have been able to further my education as easily. It has opened many doors and opportunities for me, and I want to give back and share my experience with the younger generation.”

The latest example of Warwick’s support is her commitment to this year’s Agriculture Open House for high school students. She took the lead on coordinating this year’s event and securing community partners to showcase the dynamic agriculture industry— and provide insight into the opportunities available in the Yakima Valley.

“We are trying to show the high school students that agriculture has so many career options, and a lot of it has to do with existing and emerging technology,” said Warwick. “And most importantly, that they can get an affordable, hands-on education without leaving the valley.”

Photos from 2023 Agriculture Open House
Representatives from RDO Equipment Co. speak with high school students during the 2023 Agriculture Open House event held on YVC's Grandview Campus.

Some highlights of this year’s event included RDO Equipment Co. demonstrating an autonomous robotic orchard/vineyard sprayer, Ag Enterprises showing how field management and data analysis can be leveraged to yield more crops and an entomologist from Agrimanagement Inc. giving students a chance to inspect insect specimens with microscopes and talking about scouting for pest infestations and disease. Students also viewed soil samples and learned how they can be used to make recommendations for growers, as well as tour YVC’s teaching winery and vineyard and winery classrooms. Staff from the college’s financial aid department along with the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and TRIO Student Support Services programs — which provide financial and academic supports to populations of students underrepresented in higher education — also participated helping share resources and answer any questions students had about starting their education at YVC.

In addition to this year’s Agriculture Open House, Warwick has been visiting area high schools as part of her outreach about agriculture-related degrees and certificates at YVC.

“There is a lot of interest in what we offer,” says Warwick. “When I am able to get into a classroom, I try to make it fun, informative and interactive to engage the students. I want them to be aware of our low-cost, hands-on programs where they can also have a job and still attain a certificate, associate degree and even their bachelor’s degree.”

“We are trying to show the high school students that agriculture has so many career options, and a lot of it has to do with existing and emerging technology.”   — Cat Warwick

Students analyze wine samples
Students analyze wine samples in YVC's state-of-the-art teaching winery during the 2023 Agriculture Open House.

“The program’s contribution to the industry is huge, but we need more people to know about it,” continues Warwick. “There have been many examples of alumni getting hired right out of the program to local companies and staying in the valley where we need skilled workers.”

Another of Warwick’s goals is to visit local wineries and fruit houses in the area and let their employees know about options to expand their career opportunities through YVC’s programs.

“This program is near and dear to my heart. I am very involved in the industry on other boards and committees, and it is common that folks out in the world have no idea how many amazing programs and opportunities are right here in the neighborhood,” Warwick says. “I’ve made it my goal to shout it from the rooftops!”

Story by Stefanie Menard, AA-DTA ’05, communications consultant. Photos by Dustin Wunderlich, director of community relations.