By Jim Morris

It happened on a foggy winter morning about ten years ago. While driving in Richvale, a quintessential Sacramento Valley rice town, I turned the corner and was in awe. I had a private, up-close view of something extraordinary in a rice field – a Bald Eagle teaching its young how to hunt. As the parent taught its youngsters, I knew more fully the extraordinary and unique nature of California rice.

Whether watching a massive takeoff of thousands of snow geese, marveling at GPS-guided tractors, airplanes, harvesters and robotics in mills, visiting with some of the hardest working, honorable people I’ve ever met or spending quality time in authentic small towns scattered across our region, my life has been filled with indelible, truly awesome experiences.

It has been my honor to work for California rice growers and handlers.

The past 15 years at the Rice Commission have flown by.

My observations:

  • Rice growers and handlers are bright and resourceful. They fix problems. They do whatever it takes to get the job done right.
  • The environmental story of rice is without equal. As our state struggles through unprecedented drought, the shallow amount of water used to grow rice is even more valuable. That water provides America’s sushi rice and essential habitat for hundreds of wildlife species. I never tire of seeing the amazing array of wildlife in rice country. With the Rice Commission’s pilot winter salmon project, the benefits from rice fields are only growing.
  • Rice towns are as authentic as it gets. I can’t tell you how many times I was in Maxwell, Colusa, Marysville or any of the other rice communities, and I would see a smiling face or honk from a passing vehicle, with someone I know saying hello.
  • Just as they have been at the forefront of many other areas, the rice industry does a great job telling its story. Since we ramped up our social media in 2010, many growers and handlers have eagerly participated in blogs and videos. Their posts have been seen by millions over the years, and public response has been overwhelmingly positive.

The wide open spaces of the Sacramento Valley have been my office since 2007, the memories will stay with me forever. To have worked with such kind and passionate people and help tell their stories, my heart overflows with gratitude.

Jim Morris is Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission. Jim has worked in communications for more than 20 years. When he’s not on the job, he enjoys his family, faith, football, outrageous monster stories and running marathons.