Updated: Dec 22, 2021
With hard work and dedication, success will follow. When you grow up in a small town, it can be great motivation for you to chase your dreams and find that success. And for Planada native, Junior Velesco, this was certainly the case. Like most young kids, he had dreamed of growing up and becoming something “cool” like a cop, but the flame of that dream blew out rather quickly. His parents had always been involved in farming and as he got older he became more involved with it himself. He spent most of his high school summers picking figs. It may not have been something he loved, but it opened doors for him. After he graduated, he continued his education at Merced College and worked as an almond huller. In this position, he had multiple roles like shipping and receiving, safety, and field scouting.
After a few years, Junior was approached by Nate Ray with DeJager Farms and given the opportunity of a lifetime--to join their team. Although it was a bit of a tough start, he quickly got the hang of things and was able to work his way up to his current position. These days, he holds the title of manager in chemical operations, HR, and safety. He has been with DeJager Farms for over four years now and he looks forward to what the future holds in the years to come. Even though he is still working at becoming a better manager and a better father to his beautiful daughter, Junior feels he has come quite a long way and has found his “cool” career after all.
INTERVIEW W/ JUNIOR VELASCO OF DEJAGER FARMS
What about your position at DeJager Farms makes it an essential part of the whole operation?
"Aside from being the chemical manager, I am also the go-to guy for human resources and safety and a liaison for the employees if they have any questions or concerns."
What are the different types of crops that you spray and what do you have to do different for each?
"We grow alfalfa, corn, wheat, rye grass, and almonds. Every crop, depending on their needs, is treated differently. We’re doing everything from using different spray rigs, chemicals, and application rates. We also have to ensure the employees are driving at the correct speed and spraying at the appropriate amount of pressure."
What is your favorite part about working in the Ag industry?
"That feeling of reward you get after seeing things grow. Watching a crop grow and knowing I had a small part in the success is satisfying. Also, I’d have to say working with the people that I do is one of the best parts by far! Everyone works together so well and we all love what we do… it’s hard to call it 'work.'"
If you could go anywhere in the United States to continue working in the Ag industry, where would you go and why?
"I’d have to say Florida. I know Florida isn’t huge in ag, but I have family that farms out there! They grow okra, zucchini, green beans and avocados. I’d be interested to learn how to farm different crops other than the ones we grow here!"