CSU, Chico

Alesha Williams, Agriculture Business

Alesha Williams, Agriculture Business

From the time she was born, Alesha Williams was instilled with the strong belief that agriculture would provide her a viable future. Like many of her fellow students in the College of Agriculture, Williams’s family’s livelihood, lifestyle, and history are embedded in the agriculture industry. 

The senior agricultural business major grew up on a 100-head cow-calf operation in Palo Cedro, California, that was started by Williams’s great-great-grandfather. Her grandfather currently operates the ranch with the help of Williams’s parents and brother. The 2,000-acre ranch where her family runs their Hereford and Angus cow-calf operation is made up of two parcels. The family also grows 300 acres of grass hay.

“Growing up around agriculture and learning about the industry through 4-H and FFA made me realize how vital agriculture is to everyday life,” Williams said. “It gave me a passion for the industry.”

Along with helping to raise her family’s cattle while growing up, Williams also exhibited and showcased her family’s steers at her local county fair. From the young age of 9 until she was old enough to begin showing her steers in FFA, Williams exhibited her family’s cattle through Palo Cedro 4-H. After starting high school, Williams continued to show their cattle through Foothill FFA until she graduated in 2010. Williams was an FFA chapter officer for four years and also competed on the parliamentary procedure team. Through her hard work at her family’s ranch and her involvement with her market steer projects, she received the highest achievement in the FFA Organization in 2012, the American FFA Degree.

Williams had big dreams of attending a university out of state. “I wanted to fly the coop and get away from home, so I didn’t think I would choose to attend Chico State,” she said. “After I toured Montana State University and the University of Idaho, I thought they were nice, but after touring Chico, there was no comparison and I knew that Chico was the only place for me to be.” 

What was the ultimate deciding factor? For Williams, without question, it was the College of Agriculture. Through her experiences attending FFA events hosted at Chico State, Williams said she fell in love with the staff, students, and atmosphere created by the relationship between the students, the University Farm, and academics. 

Although not an agricultural education major, Williams was an active member in Alpha Tau Alpha (ATA), a coed professional fraternity that organizes FFA competitions for high school students and engages them in leadership-building activities. Through ATA, Williams has facilitated team building at Camp Tehama all four years at CSU, Chico and presented leadership workshops to high school FFA members at the annual California State FFA Convention in Fresno. She also helped organize the CSU, Chico and Butte College FFA Field Day for over 1,000 high school FFA students. In the fall of 2012, Williams was invited to join Alpha Zeta, a coed professional fraternity for all agriculture majors. Students are invited to join the club based on a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement. Outside of the College of Agriculture, Williams was a member of the Associated Women in Business (AWiB), a club for business majors that prepares them to be marketable and valuable to future employers. 

Agricultural education Professor Brad Dodson is confident that Williams will continue to be successful after graduation.  “Alesha is a conscientious and hard-working student. She has been one of the most active students in extra-curricular activities in our college,” said Dodson.  “She is a dependable and responsible student with a ‘can do attitude.’  She will go far in the world as a result of these qualities.”

Williams has also gained valuable practical experience through various positions in the agriculture industry. Her real-world work experience started in 2009 as an office assistant for the Shasta County Farm Bureau in Palo Cedro, where she performed general clerical functions and helped plan and organize events in the community. From 2009 to 2011, Williams was a livestock clerk at the Shasta District Fair. In that position, she was responsible for maintaining exhibitor information with rushed deadlines, organizing exhibitor forms, and helping with the buyer appreciation dinner.  

Upon moving to Chico to attend college, Williams was offered a teller job at Tri Counties Bank, a longtime supporter of the College of Agriculture at CSU, Chico. She helped customers with daily banking needs while providing exceptional customer service. She also helped recommend products and services to customers to better their financial success and well-being. Her current position is with Nationwide Agribusiness, where she is a loss control representative. In this position she consults with customers about their businesses and provides them with recommendations to help avoid future losses.

With many different work experiences under her belt and a strong background in the agriculture industry, Williams is confident that she will be successful after graduating this May with her bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and a minor in animal science. And the lure of her family’s legacy still calls her: Upon graduation she plans to return home to help run the family cattle business and extend its multigenerational success.