CSU, Chico

Sarena Robertson, Agriculture Education

Sarena Robertson, Agriculture Education

 Sarena Robertson

Most commonly known for her sense of humor, witty comebacks, and vivacious personality, the 2014 Star Student in Agricultural Education, Sarena Robertson, can most commonly be found in Plumas Hall making friends out of strangers and turning negatives to positives with her optimistic and friendly demeanor. A graduating senior, Robertson is on her way into California State University, Chico’s credential program. She plans to receive her single subject and specialty teaching credentials to become a high school agriculture teacher and impact the lives of her future students in the same way she has impacted the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture.

Robertson transferred to CSU, Chico from Modesto Junior College (MJC) in the fall of 2012 with associate degrees in poultry science, agriculture business, and agriculture sciences. Her first year at MJC, she was selected as a West Campus agriculture intern. The internship program offered by the agriculture department at MJC provides 28 students with free housing in return for working 12 hours a week. Robertson’s work site was in the department office. She was charged with completing various clerical tasks such as collecting and distributing mail, making bank deposits, completing mailings, and assisting agriculture teachers with various errands. Her year as an intern saw two monumental milestones: she was among the last group of students to live in the old housing, also known as “trailer row,” and she was among the first group of students to move into the seven brand new houses which were completed in the spring of 2010 on the campus farm. During her next year at MJC, Robertson accepted a similar job with Bender Boar Goats, where she was provided free housing in exchange for working as a goat herdsman for the Bender family. She was responsible for feeding, kidding, cleaning, and all other tasks involved with a show goat operation. 

While at MJC, Robertson also held a position working for the Course Identification Number System (C-ID) Grant as a student outreach and research assistant. She helped to standardize the agriculture class numbering system for junior colleges throughout California. During the summers, she also worked for Stanislaus County Fair’s livestock department. The first summer, she helped the week of fair by clerking livestock shows and the auctions. Then, during the summer of 2011, Robertson was hired full time for the whole summer to organize shows, input entries, assist exhibitors, order awards and ribbons, and do all other livestock-related tasks leading up to the week of the fair. While at MJC, she was also active in organizing agriculture department events such as the annual Champion Choice Sale, the Showmaster Classic livestock jackpot, FFA Field Day, 4-H Proficiency Day, Annual Open House, team building at Camp Sylvester for high school FFA students, and more. 

In the fall of 2012, Robertson started her first semester at CSU, Chico as an agricultural science and education major. During her first semester, she joined Alpha Tau Alpha, the agricultural education club on campus. She helped judge at FFA speaking competitions, facilitated team building at Camp Tehama for Superior Region Chapter FFA Officers, conducted regional and state officer candidate trainings, put on leadership-building workshops at the annual state FFA conference, and attended the club’s professional and social meetings. Robertson’s favorite event each year was always Camp Tehama. “This year, we created a new team-building activity that was both challenging and fun,” she explained. “I love thinking of new ways to get students to work together to achieve an end goal.” Her activity consisted of five of the six FFA members on the officer team pulling the slack of a rope that was tied to a tree, while the sixth member of the team pulled their body weight up the tightened rope. The team member pulling their way up the rope was harnessed in, and their mission was to save a rubber chicken from the top of the tree. After the student got the chicken, he or she slowly retreated back to the ground with the support from their teammates and without touching the “lava” (the ground). “We drew parallels from this to the importance of supporting your teammates while they’re doing something important,” said Robertson. “On a team, not all students are going to be able to do everything, so we explained to them that leaders are often supporters, and not always in the spotlight.”

She also says that her involvement with the club has helped prepare her for in the classroom. “I believe that being a part of CFFA and ATA is a huge benefit to students,” said Robertson. “We get to hear from student teachers and experienced agriculture teachers at some meetings, and going into the credential program, that gives us valuable insight on what to expect. Aside from that, learning how to develop high school students as leaders through this club will be extremely valuable to us when it comes time to have our own students someday.”

Robertson is the student assistant for the agricultural education department at CSU, Chico. Her job consists of grading papers, organizing leadership development materials, developing leadership and team-building activities, and other clerical work. Professor Brad Dodson has worked closely with Robertson through this position and believes she is going to be an outstanding teacher. “Sarena is exceptional in the classroom,” he said. “She works extremely well with kids, they love her. Her personality incorporated with the curriculum makes learning fun and is captivating. All of us in the agriculture education world are extremely excited to see what the future holds for Ms. Robertson.”

Robertson grew up in Maxwell, Calif., where she was active in the high school FFA chapter. During her junior year of high school, she served as a sectional officer for the North Valley FFA Section. In her senior year, she went on to serve as a Maxwell FFA chapter officer and also served as a Superior Region FFA officer. She also competed on Maxwell FFA’s horse judging team as well as in job interview all four years of high school. Initially after graduating high school, Robertson wanted to stay involved with agriculture but also move away from home. MJC provided the perfect opportunity for this. However, after MJC, she wanted to stay in California, and CSU, Chico seemed to be the smoothest transition and most similar to MJC when it came to agriculture schools to transfer to. After completing the credential program in the spring of 2015, she hopes to teach in the Superior or Central Region.