CSU, Chico

Luke Benton, Agriculture Business

Luke Benton, Agriculture Business


Between working at the University Farm, participating in the agriculture honor society Alpha Zeta, competing on the winning Food Distribution Research Society marketing team, one might wonder when 2016 Agricultural Business Star Student Luke Benton has time to sleep.

Benton grew up in Dixon, a Yolo County town that is known as the green belt for its rich agriculture production. While his immediate family was not involved in agriculture production, his grandparents own a small farm in Nevada where Luke spent many summers of his childhood.

The oldest of seven siblings, Benton was the first to attend college. While at Woodland Community College, Benton began to explore his growing interest in crop production and discovered the career opportunities available for pest control advisors (PCA).

“I believe that agriculture in the United States is one of the noblest endeavors that this country has to offer,” Benton said. “I decided that I wanted to be directly involved in this field and I want to help pass this love for agriculture down to future generations.”

His interest in agriculture led him to CSU, Chico, where a tour of the campus and University Farm sealed the deal. Since joining the College of Agriculture, Benton has accomplished and contributed much. He is currently the president of the Student Section of the Applied Agriculture Economics Association, where he has met agriculture students from across the country. He is also an active member of several organizations including Alpha Zeta, the California Cattlemen’s Association, and the Young Cattlemen’s Association at CSU, Chico. 

In 2015, Benton was one of the five students selected to be on the team that went on to the win the Food Distribution Research Society’s student marketing case competition in Philadelphia. The team of students were given an innovative new product of mushroom and beef-blend burgers and were tasked with developing a business and marketing plan, which they then delivered to a panel of industry judges. After making it through to the finals, the team competed against teams from CSU, Fresno, University of Idaho and Colorado State University to win the title.

“I was extremely lucky to be given this opportunity and even more thankful to (instructor) Marnie Dalton for coaching our team through the whole process,” Benton said. “She spent countless hours working with us and is easily the main reason for our success in the competition.”

Another professor who helped Benton navigate his college career was plant science professor Betsy Boyd.

“From before I was even enrolled at CSU, Chico, Professor Boyd gave me valuable insight into possible career and class opportunities,” he said. “She has been an excellent source of information and knowledge throughout my college career.” 

Benton also credits agricultural business professor Jake Brimlow for his excellent instruction, direction, and advice for future endeavors.

Professor Brimlow describes Benton as a bright, hard-working student. 

“Luke’s accomplishments speak for themselves, but I have also not met a student more consistently positive and respectful than Luke, and that attitude will serve him very well going forward,” Brimlow said.

When asked what classes have stood out to him while attending CSU, Chico, Benton replied, “Some of my favorite classes have been my agriculture business and plant and soil science classes. They have been very influential in my education and have helped me understand agriculture in new ways.”

Benton works at the University Farm as herdsmen at the swine unit, and he helps out at all the units when needed. Along with the University Farm, Benton has worked for the Nicolaus Nut Company. His primary duties included operating harvest equipment and working with orchard preparation for the next growing season.    

Benton has completed internships with two different companies that have helped him develop the skills necessary for a pest control advisor. He worked as a field intern for Growers Ag Service in Dixon and later with Wilbur Ellis Company in Saint Helena where his internship focused on viticulture in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

His internship at Wilbur Ellis helped him secure a job with the company after graduation, where he will continue to work toward becoming a licensed PCA. Benton also aspires to start a cow-calf ranch of his own one day. He would like to purchase land in northern California where he will start a family and settle down.

Benton is thankful for everything he has received in his life, but above all, he gives his most thanks to God. “Without his presence in my life, none of my accomplishments and achievements would be possible,” he said.

Benton also accredits his success and determination to his parents.

“I was brought up to work hard and do my best and that has been instilled in me to this very day because of the love and support of my parents,” Benton said.  

Being raised to bring honor to his family name and for himself, Benton believes that many of the things he has been able to accomplish have been tied to his respect for his professors, mentors, and peers.

“I do my best to be respectful to those in authority such as work supervisors and professors, and that has helped me earn respect,” he said.  

When you can’t find Benton working on the University Farm or pursuing a new endeavor, you might find him spending time with his friends and family or big game hunting and fishing.

Benton urges new students to introduce themselves to other students in the College of Agriculture. “We are all a tightknit bunch, but once you break the ice, students will find that everyone is friendly and inviting,” he said.

Benton also encourages freshmen to get to know the faculty. “As many students before and after me can attest, the faculty are a wealth of information for education as well as future employment,” he said.  

Benton was selected by the faculty in the College of Agriculture to be the 2016 Star Student in Agriculture Business.