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May 4, 2011

Contact:  Jacky Eshelby
Professor, Agribusiness Department

Cal Poly Agribusiness Students Take First Place in National Marketing Competition

SAN LUIS OBIPSO – Cal Poly’s National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA) Team earned first place at the 2011 National Agri-Marketing Association student marketing competition in Kansas City, Mo., April 13 and 14.

Of the 30 teams at the annual competition, Cal Poly edged out Purdue University, to take first place for the eighth time in 22 years.

“The team’s achievement is a testament to the quality of their dedicated teamwork, our faculty and the department as a whole,” said Brandon Banner, Cal Poly’s graduate student adviser.

The award-winning team of Agribusiness majors developed and presented a comprehensive marketing plan for their client, Peter Alvitre — a Cal Poly agribusiness alumnus who owns Future Fruit, LLC, a Visalia-based fruit producer holding exclusive patent rights to Liora seedless lemons. The winning strategy was built around marketing the patented seedless lemons to high-end full-service restaurants in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas,

Instrumental to the team’s success was their unique social media strategy. The six-member promotions team recommended using FohBoh, the targeted foodservice social media network, in addition to more conventional social media outlets. Banner said this creative element was one of the keys to the team’s success.

The team was comprised of fourteen students: Cameron Baccariani, Becca Fisher, Lyndsay Guttchen, Taylor Hansard, Alison Hart, Jackey Jeffus, Hayley Loehr, Leanna Lynch, Alyssa Nichols, Jeremy Pagaran, Garrison Rajkovich, Rene Strle, LeighAnne Thomsen and Jacqueline Van Ruiten.

Agribusiness faculty advisor Jim Ahern advised said “The team adapted their presentation to accommodate questions raised during their many practice runs. Each performance to faculty, students, parents, industry and early-round judges aided in the professional, award-winning final performance.” 

“This experience has really prepared me as an agriculture marketing professional,” said senior LeighAnne Thomsen of Newport Beach, CA. “The NAMA program and this national competition have been the most rewarding experiences of my education. They provided me with real-world simulations and enabled me to hone my marketing, creative and presentation skills.” As a graduating senior with three years of NAMA team experience and a degree in Agribusiness, Thomsen has a sales and marketing position waiting for her following June commencement. “The real-world application truly prepared me for a successful future.” 

About NAMA:
A nationwide organization, the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) consists of 24 local chapters with more than 3,000 professional and student members. Student NAMA chapters, with 1,300+ members from more than 30 chapters at leading universities and colleges, comprise an important part of NAMA's membership. For more information, go to