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Almond Leadership Program: Participant Spotlight - Dan Lawson


Dan Lawson with his wife and three children.

Call it fate, destiny, or luck — entering the almond industry was never part of current ALP participant Dan Lawson’s plan. Prior to participating in a collegiate internship expedition, which included a facility tour of South Valley Almond Company (SVAC), Lawson didn’t even know that almonds grew on trees. The facility tour led to an internship with SVAC in 2012, and eventually a full-time position as processing foreman which Lawson held for six growing seasons. Today, Lawson is in his third season managing hulling and shelling operations at Treehouse Almonds. During the off-season, Lawson and his wife, Lindsey, love to explore the great outdoors with their six-year-old son and three-year-old twin daughters.

Growing up

I was born in Riverside, California, but spent my childhood in Columbia Falls, Montana, a little town right by the entrance to Glacier National Park. My parents had a hobby farm with horses and we raised hay. It was just about the perfect place to grow up. I was surrounded by wonderful people and was given some wonderful opportunities as a child.

Childhood dreams

When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional skier. I grew up in the mountains, and I just loved to snow ski. A couple years into high school I realized it just wasn’t going to pan out — it was the dual realization that I needed an income and I wasn’t as fast on my skis as I originally thought I was.

You might be surprised to know

Between high school and college I lived in Bilbao, Spain for two years. It was incredible — I loved it. I ended up becoming fluent in Spanish. I had no idea I would end up in a career where I regularly speak Spanish. Looking back, I think it was one of the things that helped me get the job when I first started in the almond industry. I was able to communicate well with employees, which made a difference.

What it’s like during the offseason

As a college student, I loved to be outdoors, and especially in the mountains. I would rock climb, mountain bike, kayak, ski, and surf. Now I get to do some of these things with my family. Lately, we’re into camping. Our favorite camping spot is Sequoia National Monument. The kids love getting dirty and exploring. We have some kayaks, and we take them out on the lake or to the coast.

Man’s best friend

We have a border collie named Tilly. She goes just about everywhere with us. She loves to catch a frisbee. As a kid, I always wanted a dog that could catch a frisbee. She likes it almost too much. We have a couple stand-up paddleboards we take out on the ocean, and she’ll sit up on the front of the board. She’s a good pup.

How I connect with my family

All three of my kids really like to build with Legos. The girls have princess Legos they like to build with, where they recreate scenes from their favorite movies. Of course, Frozen is a favorite. My son is really creative, he’s got a lot of random sets and he’ll build just about anything. We spend a lot of time building together as a family.

Almond Leadership Program experience

Recently we had an ALP seminar in Yosemite Valley. We hiked to Yosemite Falls, which was just surreal — Yosemite is an incredible place. Back at the cabin, we had a guest speaker from Vivayic, Tobin Redwine, Ph.D. He spoke about retaining your physical, mental, and spiritual health so that when you are presented with a mental health crisis you have the tools you need to handle it. I thought it was an incredibly valuable topic; I learned a lot from the whole experience.

Favorite way to eat almonds

Almonds taste the best right when they get to the stockpile and I’m out there checking the moisture on them. They’re fresh and I think they’re a little sweeter when they first come in. Of course, they’re also delicious on ice cream or in brownies.