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Institute for Food and Agriculture

Research and Outreach Projects

California Olive Oil Council (COOC)

For more information, email Taylan Kaan Unal at or Rhythm Chaudhary at

At the Institute for Food and Agriculture, we simultaneously collaborate with the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) on two projects: olive oil evaluation project and olive oil competition project. We work with approximately 100 different olive oil companies located all over the State of California. In order to determine the quality of the olive oils we receive, we cooperate with COOC’s professional tasting panel and hold weekly meetings with 18 trained olive oil tasters for their input on the evaluation process. 

In the Olive Oil Evaluation Project, once we receive olive oils from the various companies, we utilize the Cropster software website and create unique labeled sessions and codes to be assigned for each individual olive oil. Moreover, we pour olive oils from their original bottles into small sample bottles for the convenience of the panelists and for confidentiality purposes. Once the preparation is complete, we place olive oil samples into 8-10 different boxes while preparing a unique tasting order for each session to provide a fair tasting session for the tasting panel. After the tasting session finishes and we receive important scoring and feedback from the trained olive oil tasters, we prepare a results report which includes every panelist’s confidential scoring. That way, we acquire a better understanding of which olive oils meet the criteria of being “extra virgin.”

The way that panelists determine if an olive oil meets the criteria of being extra virgin is determined on Cropster through various types of feedback from the taste panelists. Cropster enables panelists to input information on negative attributes such as fusty, musty, winey, frozen, rancid or any other type of defect with unique scoring for defective oils. Panelists also describe positive attributes to evaluate how fruity, bitter, pungent, robust and/or astringent an olive oil is with special scoring for each oil. When preparing a results report for a session, we take the mean of the panelists’ data to create a fair summary evaluation and determine which olive oils meet the “extra virgin” criteria and which olive oils fail to do so. 

For the Olive Oil Competition Project, COOC evaluates 200 best rated olive oils throughout the State of California based on the scores of olive oils from the olive oil evaluation project. After that, the companies send brand new bottles of their “deemed extra virgin” olive oils to the Institute for Food and Agriculture. Similarly, we place the top 200 olive oils in small bottles while assigning them unique labels to be sent to the competition for further evaluation of their quality in a competition environment. 

Tasting Panel Member Information Packet

Next Generation Agricultural Science: Elevating Today’s and Tomorrow’s Teachers

For more information, email Cameron Standridge at or Jonathan Moules at

Next Generation Ag Sciences Logo

California State University, Fresno is integrating and disseminating new agriscience curriculum and professional development experiences to assist 9th-12th grade in-service teachers, pre-service post-baccalaureate teachers, and high school administrators and counselors in training the future workforce of the food and agricultural sciences industries in the project titled: Next Generation Agricultural Science: Elevating Today’s and Tomorrow’s Teachers. In three years, three agriscience laboratory manuals emphasizing Next Generation Science Standards will be developed and integrated into existing teacher professional development to secure long-term adoption in agriscience pathways. Experiential learning experiences, teacher externships, and administrator/counselor nights, will connect educational professionals to agriscience industry and government leaders. Under the direction of Dr. Rosco Vaughn and Mr. Cameron Standridge, and with the collaboration of California Department of Education, California Agricultural Teachers Association, North Coast Agricultural Partners, and Central Region Agricultural Education Career Pathways Consortium, the project will directly affect 211, 781, 963 participants in each respective year and 43,350 high school students indirectly. By creating immersive learning environments with the low facilitator participant ratios, teacher workshops, teacher externships, and administrator/counselor nights throughout California, educators will be trained in implementing integrated science and agricultural instructional resources, skills, and guidance. Fresno State will expertly and enthusiastically advance the quality of agriscience pedagogy through supporting agricultural educators in their quest to prepare high school students to be college/career-ready.

Dairy Business Innovation Initiative – Pacific Coast Coalition

For more information email Dr. Licon at 

Pacific Coast Dairy Coalition

From Cows to Neurons 

Click HERE for more information 

ACRS 21- Career Readiness for the 21st Century


Stay tuned for more projects!