Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, visited Moorpark College on Monday to tour the campus and learn more about the school’s science disciplines.

While it wasn’t her first time at the college, Brownley said it was the first time she saw some of parts of the campus, including the American Teaching Zoo, run by the students in the school’s exotic animal training and management program.

“I was really interested in seeing what is happening here. I know that Moorpark has a great reputation and wanted to see it,” Brownley said.

“As a new member of Congress, I have been on a listening tour throughout Ventura County, and my intention is to meet with all the community colleges here in Ventura as well as all of the cities and major employers.”

One of Brownley’s main objectives Monday was to learn about the college’s science, technology, engineering and math program.

Moorpark College engineering instructor Scarlet Relle showed Brownley the school’s AutoCAD lab, where students demonstrated drawings of some of their projects. The students also showed Brownley a robotics project from the engineering club that recently won second place in a competition at CSU Northridge.

Relle said Moorpark College teaches all the undergraduate courses needed to transfer in engineering to a four-year university except for a dynamics course, which she hopes will be available in the fall.

Brownley said she was very interested in STEM education. She said she had learned about the importance of education in science and math when she served on education committees in the California Legislature.

“If you look at the data in California, if we stay on the same trajectory we’re on today, we know that by 2020 we’re going to have to be hiring lots of engineers from lots of other places other than California to fill the jobs in California,” she said.

“As a candidate running for Congress, in my travels throughout Ventura County and talking to the major employers here, they’re all telling me that they’re having to go outside of the county and outside of the state to fill their jobs that they have right here right now because there’s a shortage of the kind of expertise you’re gaining and will have when you graduate from college,” Brownley told the engineering students.

Brownley was accompanied on the tour by Moorpark College President Pam Eddinger, Ventura County Community College District Chancellor Jamillah Moore and college district Trustee Stephen Blum.

Brownley learned that the animal training program is one of two programs in the United States that teaches students how to train exotic animals.

Eddinger also pointed out several of the school’s newest buildings, including an animal training complex that opened in 2010 and was paid for with bond money.

Eddinger and Brownley discussed how budget cuts reduced some of the school’s programs and how the college plans to expand some class offerings in the summer and fall.

Eddinger said she appreciated Brownley’s visit.

“I believe having her this close to a community college to know what we do on the ground is important. It puts legislative initiatives into perspective. It frames her decisions for us and how she represents us,” Eddinger said.

Later Monday, Brownley attended an open house for her new district office in Thousand Oaks. She opened another office last week in Oxnard.

Brownley said the offices will serve as liaisons between residents and the federal government.

“We’ve been trying to tell everyone that our offices are their offices, and we want people to come. We really want to be very available and accessible to the community,” Brownley said.


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