CSU, Chico

Brett Baker, Agriculture Education

Brett Baker, Agriculture Education

When Brett Baker was young, he would frequently visit the Turlock fire station where both his father and grandfather served as firefighters. All he could think about was getting his hands on one of those fire engines and climbing all over it. Like many boys, Baker grew up wanting to become a firefighter. Now a junior in college, Baker has reached that goal and is working towards his next dream of becoming a high school agriculture teacher

The week before Baker graduated from John Pitman High School in Turlock, he spotted a flyer recruiting volunteer firefighters and he applied. A month later, Baker started training as a fire explorer. In February 2011, he was promoted to a probationary firefighter and 12 months later, while a student at Modesto Junior College, Baker was promoted to the rank of firefighter. But he didn’t stop there. In December 2015, Baker became captain.

Baker takes satisfaction in knowing that, as a volunteer firefighter, he can help people even on what could potentially be the worst day of their life.

“Moments like that give me pride in my community,” Baker said.  

Though growing up as a rather shy kid, Baker says volunteer firefighting allowed him to come out of his shell, excelling in leadership roles, planning events, working with people, and learning not to second-guess himself. Baker really enjoys the public relations aspect of reaching out to schools on behalf of the fire department and leading school visits.

Educating schoolchildren about the fire department and fire safety was one of the sparks that made him want to become an agriculture teacher. Even though becoming a high school agriculture teacher was not always what Baker envisioned for himself, he graduated Modesto Junior College with an associates in science in agricultural business and agricultural science. And witnessing the career satisfaction of teachers such as his mother, aunt, and his mentor and high school agriculture teacher Troy Gravatt, he knew he would have just as much of a fulfilling career in education.

“I used to coach student athletes and being able to help them and connect with them, not just making them better athletes, but also with personal home problems, was gratifying,” Baker said. “They may forget about that problem or our conversation in a week, but being able to help them in that moment, that’s when I knew I should teach.”

Baker’s journey to Chico started when agriculture education professor Brad Dodson visited Modesto Junior College. Through Dodson’s presentation Baker could tell that if he came to Chico, he wouldn’t be just another number on a roster. After arriving on campus in fall 2016, Baker discovered he was right.

“Though Chico was a little far from home, I got that small town feel that I like,” Baker said.

Currently at Chico State, Baker is involved in College FFA (CFFA), United Students of Agriculture (USA), and Society of Ag Managers (SAM), as well as the 2017 Chico State FFA Field Day, all of which has helped introduce him to opportunities around campus.

Baker says his grandparents were huge inspirations in his life, teaching his brother and him the value of respect for others, hard work, and many other life lessons.  When asked who has been influential at his time here in Chico, Baker credited Dodson.

“He’s easy to talks to and down to earth. He is always there to assist students when needed. He’s a real professional,” Baker said.

He also mentioned the College of Agriculture’s student success coordinator, Ashley Person. She is extremely helpful in answering any and all questions, going out of her way to get answers to him as soon as possible, Baker said.