CSU, Chico

Joel Wisniewski, Animal Science

Joel Wisniewski, Animal Science


Growing up in the small town of Wendell, Idaho, the 2016 Star Student in Animal Science, Joel Wisniewski, never envisioned himself in a California city nearly 30 times larger than his hometown. One of nine siblings, Wisniewski grew up on a small cattle ranch in southern Idaho. Throughout his youth, Wisniewski could be found working at local beef operations and helping with the day-to-day chores and activities involved with raising cattle.

Wisniewski was selected by the faculty in the College of Agriculture to be the 2016 Star Student in Animal Science. Interim Dean Dave Daley called Wisniewski bright and conscientious with an excellent work ethic. 

“Joel has done an exceptional job as the student herdsman at the beef unit while managing a challenging class load,” Daley said. “I have watched him grow in his position as his responsibilities continue to increase. Joel is a very good student, but more importantly, he is truly interested in his education and in learning.”

Both of Wisniewski’s parents received college degrees in animal science, laying the foundation for Wisniewski’s interest in following the same path. His mother also had hopes of going to veterinary school, which helped him decide to pursue that as a career.

Wisniewski got involved with 4-H at a young age, specifically with livestock and livestock judging. He exhibited market animals at the local fairs including cattle, hogs, and sheep. While judging livestock in his teenage years, Wisniewski and his team won the Idaho State 4-H Judging Competition.

After graduating from high school, Wisniewski continued his education at the College of Southern Idaho, where he studied animal science for the next two years and continued his livestock judging career. Wisniewski competed nationally under the guidance of Coach Josh Mavencamp. While traveling to livestock judging competitions, he met the CSU, Chico judging coach, Clay Carlson, who recruited Wisniewski and three other students from the College of Southern Idaho.

Wisniewski became an important part of the 2014 CSU, Chico Livestock Judging Team. In Phoenix, Arizona, at the Arizona National Livestock Show, while the CSU, Chico team placed high overall, he placed Second High Individual. At another competition in Fresno earlier in the season, Wisniewski was also successful and received the title of high individual.

Wisniewski has been involved with the Chico State Young Cattlemen’s Association and is currently the club’s treasurer. He is also a member of the California Young Cattlemen’s Association as well as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Wisniewski worked his way up to student herdsmen at the University Farm beef unit, where he has had the opportunity to manage and collect research data on the cattle that are part of several studies. Research projects that he has worked on include development of replacement heifers with brewer’s grain and viability of half-blood Lowline cattle in production from Alturas Ranch. Another study investigated the feed efficiency of cattle owned by the CSU, Chico Beef Unit, Alturas Ranch, and a set of Beefmaster bulls owned by Cherry Glen Beefmasters.

Wisniewski’s favorite part of the College of Agriculture is the opportunities that are offered to students at the University Farm and around campus.

“My advice to incoming freshmen is to get involved and make sure to meet with their advisor to explore all the opportunities that are offered,” Wisniewski said.

For Wisniewski, beef production and reproductive physiology are his favorite classes. He said that both classes helped him increase his knowledge of cattle and reproductive management, which he can use in the future.

He appreciates the guidance he has received from Interim Dean Dave Daley and Animal Science Professor Kasey DeAtley. Both professors have been very helpful not only in advising him in the management of cattle but also helping him to develop his abilities as a manager of personnel.

After graduating this spring, Wisniewski will apply to veterinary school. After earning his veterinary license, he would like to focus on a career in food animal medicine. He is not exactly sure where he would like to open his practice just yet, but he is open to various possibilities.