College of Agriculture

Ethan Ulmanis

Animal Science 

Ethan Ulmanis just graduated from California State University, Chico, with a degree in animal science. Ulmanis is from Koshkonong, Missouri, where he was born into a family deeply seated in agriculture. In Koshkonong, a small rural town with a population of about 200 people, Ethan’s father is the veterinarian, the Ulmanis family owns a feed store, and family members run a herd of registered cattle.

Ulmanis jokes that he discovered that he wanted to pursue agriculture when he started taking college courses.

“I realized I knew nothing but agriculture. At that moment, that agriculture was what I wanted to pursue. It’s what I am most passionate about.”

He found his place at CSU, Chico, all due to livestock judging, which he started in high school. After graduating from Koshkonong High School, Ulmanis was recruited to the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) to judge for two years on a full-ride scholarship. Once he completed his two years in Idaho, earning an associate’s degree of science, CSU, Chico livestock judging coach Clay Carlson recruited Ulmanis to judge in California, with support from his junior college judging Coach Josh Mavencamp and Barry Pate at CSI. With a bit of encouragement from his mother, Ulmanis decided to come to the West Coast to finish his education at CSU, Chico and be part of the 2014 Livestock Judging Team.

The skills and opportunities Ulmanis gained judging exceeded any expectations he had.

“Judging teaches oratory skills, public speaking skills, and mental toughness. From a personal standpoint, it’s always something that will be desirable, no matter what part of livestock production I’m involved in,” Ulmanis said.

His involvement in judging allowed him to overcome severe speech impediments and small learning disabilities.

“It’s been a humbling experience to overcome things people take for granted from day to day, and it’s something I’ll always be thankful for.”

Within the College of Agriculture, Ulmanis worked as a co-herdsman for the beef unit and was involved with the Chico State Young Cattlemen’s Association. Ulmanis learned a great deal from working cattle in California and Idaho, diversifying the knowledge of what he grew up doing. He has learned how to adjust management and timing strategies as the seasons change, as well as how to apply different marketing strategies to his own operation. Additionally, Ulmanis worked as an intern for Assemblyman James Gallagher. His duties included constituent management, with the main tasks of answering phone calls and writing letters to constituents in the Chico area.

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company brewer’s grain research trial and classes such as genetics, reproduction, and advanced beef ranked among Ulmanis’s favorites as a student in animal science. He says one of his favorite parts about being a student in the College of Agriculture is the ability to work with high-caliber faculty and staff, and he recognizes professors Kasey DeAtley and Dave Daley for their support of his experiences, as they’ve both helped him get jobs and opportunities in California agriculture and politics. He says those opportunities have opened doors, allowing him to learn more about how closely agriculture and politics coincide.

Carlson commends Ulmanis’ unprecedented work ethic, saying, “Ethan is someone you wish you could clone. To have such a hard worker—who’s not afraid to get dirty, work hard, and put his best foot forward in what he does—is really a unique thing.”

Ulmanis is grateful for his experience and exposure to key figures in the agriculture industry.

“I would not be where I am today without the people that have helped me along the way,” he said.

Ulmanis’s advice to students entering the College of Agriculture is to not turn down opportunity. “Don’t be scared to go new places or to capitalize on opportunities. Your involvement in class and outside activities is crucial to your success in the industry, and you have some incredible people to utilize here at CSU, Chico.”

Aside from school, Ulmanis says he enjoys visiting and experiencing new places, whether for work or vacation. He’s interested in exploring agricultural production wherever he travels, which doesn’t come as a surprise due to the Missouri native’s track record in attending school in Idaho and California, along with the miles he gained traveling across the United States for livestock judging.

Ulmanis is moving back to his hometown to pursue an apprenticeship with a livestock embryo transfer technician, with the intention of eventually buying into the business. He intends on working as a technician while helping with his family’s ranch and feed store, both of which he will likely take over. In the future, Ulmanis sees himself thriving in the agriculture entities that he and his family own, and he says there is a possibility of a political interest as well.