CSU, Chico

Trevor Airola, Agriculture Education

Trevor Airola, Agriculture Education

 There wasn't the slightest hesitation for the agricultural education professors when they were asked to nominate a student to be honored as the 2013 Star Student for Agricultural Education. Trevor Airola more than fit the part.

Airola is not a stranger throughout the College of Agriculture. Whether it's giving tours at the University Farm, working at the pastured poultry project, or jumping in to help at any College of Agriculture event, he can be found wherever agriculture is found and College of Agriculture students meet.  With his drive and motivation, Airola will be among the few agricultural education majors who will graduate in less than four years.

They say that leaders are not born, they are made. Airola's journey to become a leader started in a small town about an hour east of Modesto, Calif., called Angels Camp, where he grew up on a cattle ranch. His family ran Angus and Hereford cattle as a cow-calf operation. For the past 15 years, they have leased out the property while his parents worked full time, but Trevor hopes to one day take over the family cattle ranching business again.

Airola attended Bret Harte High School, where he was extremely involved in the FFA program. During high school, he took advantage of every leadership opportunity offered to him by being a Greenhand, chapter officer, and then sectional officer for the largest FFA section in the state of California. He also attended all FFA leadership conferences and conventions. In high school, Airola found his passion for agriculture expanding during competitions such as job interview, poultry judging, and showing hogs and cattle at the county fair.   

Agricultural education professor Brad Dodson believes that Airola's leadership abilities, personality, and work ethic will make him an outstanding teacher. "Trevor is a very special young man," said Dodson. "He has a huge passion for agriculture that he can't wait to share with his students. He comes from a very strong high school FFA chapter, so he understands how a program successfully operates 'a full package deal.' " 

For the past three years, Airola has been active in nearly all of the College of Agriculture's clubs. He is currently the Inter Club Council (ICC) representative for the Alpha Tau Alpha. Airola is the treasurer for Alpha Zeta, the College of Agriculture's professional honor society. This year, he attended the Alpha Zeta National Conference in Ithaca, New York, with four other CSU, Chico students. In addition to his involvement with Alpha Tau Alpha and Alpha Zeta, Airola is the state secretary for the California Young Cattlemen's Association. 

His involvement doesn't stop there. He also has been involved with hosting the annual CSU, Chico and Butte College Field day for the past three years. His first two years he was a co-chair for the poultry judging contest. This year, Airola was selected to serve on the 2013 FFA Field Day Leadership team, where he was one of three students in charge of registration for the entire event. 

This year, Airola received the 2013 Outstanding Student Leader Award for the College of Agriculture, which included a $500 check from Superior Ag.

Airola said he's learned countless life lessons during his time at Chico State. "I've learned to utilize many leadership skills like time management throughout my various involvements," he said. "I've also taken on a new meaning of professionalism thanks to awesome teachers such as Dr. Dodson and Audrey Denney. Dr. Dodson has been really helpful in establishing a path and helping me achieve my goals. I wouldn't be able to be as involved as I've had the opportunity to be, or even be graduating early, without his guidance."

Beyond personal growth, Airola has also gained once-in-a-lifetime technical experience that he can later apply to his classes as an agricultural education teacher. He has learned the ins and outs of cattle registration through his work at the University Farm's Beef Unit. Through working at the Organic Dairy Unit, he has gained a general understanding of the dairy industry, which at home is something he never would have had the opportunity to do. "When you grow up in Angels Camp, you know what a dairy is, but there aren't dairies around to gain practical experience, and that is what Chico State College of Ag has done for me across the board," said Airola. 

Living in Chico has been an easy transition for Airola after coming from a small town with a population of 3,500. The College of Agriculture is smaller than Airola's high school, but at the same time, it is an extremely strong and focused program. Airola's high school also had a really strong agriculture program, so the two schools complemented each other perfectly when it came down to a college decision.

"When you're walking around Chico, it doesn't feel like you're in a town of 86,000 people," said Airola. "Everywhere you go, you run into someone you know."