All over the show floor at the recent PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey one could see a strong emphasis on the Center for Growing Talent. And even more impressive was the opportunity to see firsthand the program in action, which is exactly what took place when OnionBusiness publisher Sherise Jones bumped into L&M Co.’s Derek Ennis, who was taking part in the program as a volunteer mentor for Daniel Espinoza.
Daniel is an agriculture student at Hartnell College in Salinas, CA, and one of the young participants in the Center for Growing Talent group at the show.
More than a decade ago a charitable organization was developed in coordination with PMA with the mission to “provide industry-specific solutions to attract, develop and retain talent.” Several milestones have been reached and surpassed in the succeeding years, and today the Center for Growing Talent continues to pair career hopefuls to the produce and floral industries.
As explained at the Center for growing Talent website, https://www.centerforgrowingtalent.org/our-work, the organization works to attract new talent to the industry by “sharing the vast career options available.” Stats show that nearly 100 Career Pathways students have taken advantage of the program and 67 percent of the participants have launched careers in the industry. Today 78 percent of those starters remain in the produce industry.
So it is with Daniel, as Sherise learned while visiting with the pair. Daniel immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 11, and he told Sherise that when he arrived with his family, he couldn’t speak a word of English. Through his family’s work in produce fields, he grew to love the industry. And, he said, he wants to make it his career.
Derek added, “Daniel is interested in crop production, and he’s very interested in what it takes to get produce from the field to packing – all that’s involved, like food safety.”
The L&M veteran said he volunteered for the Center of Growing Talent because it is a worthwhile endeavor and provides an avenue for him to give back to the industry he loves.
Featured image: Derek Ennis with L&M Companies (left) and Center for Growing Talent participant, Daniel Espinoza (right)