CSU, Chico

Devin Wilson, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Managment

Devin Wilson, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Managment

Devin Wilson

Devin Wilson, a Chico native and senior agriculture student with an emphasis in crops, horticulture, and land resource management, came to California State University, Chico with a passion for food security and increasing local food production. With his desire to develop sustainable production systems and to spread awareness about the importance of locally produced food, Wilson has become the field manager for CSU, Chico’s Organic Vegetable Project and conducted research within the College of Agriculture.

Wilson attended Pleasant Valley High School, and came to CSU, Chico because of the strong agriculture program. Some of Wilson’s favorite courses within the College of Agriculture have been introduction to plant science, greenhouse production, and plant physiology.

“This semester I’m taking integrated pest management,” he said, “which is one of the most challenging and rewarding classes I have ever taken.”

Along with his coursework, Wilson has gained immense knowledge from the Agricultural Teaching and Research Center, or the CSU, Chico University Farm.

“It is a really great resource that enables students to learn through hands-on experience. I learn more effectively that way and I know a lot of other people do too,” he said.

Wilson has assisted with variety trial experiments at the Organic Vegetable Project, including conducting lettuce trials to test which varieties grow best through the summer months and heat. The study recorded data on germination rate, growth rate, growth habit, appearance, resistance to bolting, and flavor. He’s also taken the agricultural experimental research class, AGRI 490, where the students performed an experiment on the effects of using bio char as a soil amendment in agricultural systems. Wilson assisted in “charging” the bio char before it was incorporated into the experiment.

“In addition to learning how to manage a variety of diverse crops, I have learned how to prioritize energy and labor inputs, how to plan ahead, manage pests, delegate responsibility, manage a greenhouse, propagate plants, and confer my knowledge to other students and the general public,” Wilson said of his experience with the Organic Vegetable Project.

These skills will serve Wilson beyond graduation this May, with his career direction in developing sustainable systems of food production.

“I see myself developing systems of food production that work with nature, rather than against it,” he said. “I would also like to establish a breeding program to improve drought tolerance of crops."

Aside from taking classes and working at the University farm, Wilson found inspiration from Will Allen, founder and CEO of a non-profit center for urban agriculture.

“I stumbled across Will Allen while searching for information on sustainable urban agriculture,” Wilson said. “Allen has helped me realize how easy it can be to produce food with good management of inputs, location, and labor. It is important that all communities have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Allen, a Maryland native, founded Growing Power, a non-profit center for urban agriculture, works to implement sustainable food systems and grow healthy communities in highly populated areas. Wilson admires Allen’s efforts, saying, “He has really made an impact on me, because he noticed areas that are considered ‘food deserts’ and has done everything in his power to help those areas produce their own locally grown produce.”

Wilson says a key figure in his time at CSU, Chico has been Dr. Elizabeth Boyd. He appreciates her desire for students to succeed and her commitment to her expectations of her students.

“Her classes are challenging because she expects you to actually learn the material instead of memorizing what you need to pass the test,” he said. “She also has a role in the administration of the college and she is passionate about improving the College of Agriculture as well as the entire university.”

Boyd praises Wilson’s work ethic, proactivity, and humility, saying, “Devin is one of those students that you’d never have any idea of their accomplishments, unless you ask him directly. And when you do finally pull it out of him, you’re amazed at all he does! He’s one of the most humble people, with a strong desire to apply what he’s learned.” 

Upon graduation, Wilson plans to travel to Europe and New Zealand. After backpacking in Europe, Wilson plans to work on organic farms through the WWOOF program (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for three months living and working on multiple farms in New Zealand, assisting in crop management and animal husbandry.