Wilbur-Ellis Hosts FFA Tour, Showcases Investment in Future of Agriculture

More than 50 members of the California FFA learned about the career opportunities in food production and agriculture during a recent tour of the newly renovated Wilbur-Ellis Woodland South location near Woodland, CA.

The “Day in the Life” tour featured presentations by four Wilbur-Ellis Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) who detailed the work they do helping growers throughout the area raise a wide diversity of crops from tomatoes, corn, sunflower, grapes and rice to almonds, prunes, pome fruit, seed for high-value vegetables and more.


The young FFA leaders also heard from the PCAs about how membership in FFA influenced their career choices and how it is helping them in their jobs today. The Wilbur-Ellis tour was one of several educational tours offered to FFA members attending the 2024 California FFA Convention in Sacramento.

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“More than half our employees are former FFA members, and I estimate nearly 75% of our customers are as well. FFA judging contests and serving as a chapter officer helped me improve my public speaking ability. It guided me to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to get my agricultural degree,” says Patrick Klingler, sales manager at the Woodland South Wilbur-Ellis location. “My supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs) in swine production and raising hay taught me to understand how expenses and marketing affected my ability to make money.”

Guiding youth to careers in agriculture is an example of the company’s investments in the future of agriculture and why Wilbur-Ellis in California and across the country is a dedicated supporter of youth programs like FFA and 4-H.

Megan Dyk, agricultural instructor and FFA advisor at Ripon Christian Schools in Ripon, California, appreciates opportunities like the Wilbur-Ellis tour and the investment in agricultural youth.

“Exposure to actual careers helps to connect the dots between classroom learning and what is happening in the ag industry,” Dyk explains. “Students can hear from their teachers all about opportunities in ag. They can do career reports, but it isn’t until they see firsthand by way of a tour with actual industry professionals that they form connections and gain enthusiasm for a certain career. This type of hands-on learning is integral to ag education.”

State-of-the-art technology serves diverse crop needs through precision

As FFA members toured the newly renovated Wilbur-Ellis location they were also exposed to state-of-the-art tools, technologies and services available today to growers throughout the area. The facility opened in early 2024 after nearly 4 ½ years of planning and construction.

A major feature is the company’s liquid fertilizer tank farm and new liquid blending station where precise combinations of crop nutrients are formulated with accuracy akin to measuring ingredients in a cake recipe.

“Our PCAs begin by evaluating soil samples, leaf petiole or tissue samples and aerial imagery of growing crops to identify nutrients that a crop may be lacking. With this information, we prepare a prescription of the primary and micronutrients needed. Our new blending station, supported by Agvance software, then allows us to precisely formulate the crop nutrients to the specific analysis needed for each block or field,” Klingler explained.

“We’re also using technologies such as soil probes and in-field weather stations to monitor the water being applied and how quickly it is used by the plants. With these tools, we help our customers add water only when the crop needs it,” added Klingler.

These technologies also are used to help growers spoon-feed nutrients to crops through drip or sprinkler irrigation when the crop needs it most, for very efficient use of the inputs. Wilbur-Ellis has similar formulation and blending systems for dry bulk nutrient use.

The Woodland South facility is centrally and strategically located between Highway 113 and Highway 505 to serve growers within a 30- to 40-mile radius of the Woodland and Dixon areas. It also features a modern 30,000-square-foot warehouse for the 300 to 400 products in stock for the varied crop protection needs of growers. More than 11 PCAs and 34 employees are based at the facility, working to support growers.