The Salinas area is not only at the forefront of agriculture production, but also home to leading agtech educational programs. The Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay boast a wide array of higher education and research organizations, many of which offer agtech programs and collaborate with local companies.
The city of Salinas works closely with higher education institutions, startups, and employers to foster partnerships and retain young talent upon graduation. A variety of local internships allow students to enhance their learning experience – whether they are working with a local startup developing mobile apps for the farm, or working with a multi-million dollar agriculture company harnessing the latest sustainability technologies.
Founded in 1920, Salinas’ community college, Hartnell College, is one of the oldest educational institutions in California. Hartnell College enrolls more than 16,000 students and serves as one of the anchor organizations for Salinas’ agtech ecosystem, with a variety of STEM initiatives, including CSin3, an accelerated three-year computer science and IT degree program, and CoderDojo, a program that teaches K-12 students how to code. In 2016, Hartnell College accepted the Forbes Impact Award for its leadership in agtech and CSin3 program in partnership with California State University Monterey Bay.
Roughly 8% of students are studying agriculture or technology at Hartnell College. The Hartnell College Agricultural Business and Technology Institute allows students to undertake disciplines related to ag business and production, seed tech, horticulture tech, sustainable crop management, and more. Additionally, Hartnell College co-hosts the Salinas Valley Ag Technology Summit, an annual event that invites students, young professionals, and industry leaders to a full day of ag-related educational lectures and showcases.
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) offers intensive field studies, internships, and events designed to foster and inspire students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture. From courses that explore the connection between agriculture and science, to lectures and labs that survey soil fertility and plant growth, CSUMB’s agriculture program prepares students with a competitive set of skills for careers in agtech. Furthermore, CSUMB operates the CSin3 program in partnership with Hartnell College, and provides funding for undergraduate student internships to nurture retention, graduation, and career attainment of learners from all backgrounds.
As one of the 10 campuses in the University of California system, the University of California Santa Cruz serves more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students across 66 undergraduate majors, 38 minors, and 52 concentrations. UC Santa Cruz offers a wide array of courses for those interested in agriculture and computer technology, including sustainable agriculture, domestic and international food systems, software engineering, web development, and database system design. Additionally, its Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems collaborates with nonprofits, growers, community members, and other stakeholders to teach, research, and advance agriculture through a number of initiatives, including its on-site community farm.