CSU, Chico

Casey Dykier, Animal Science and Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Casey Dykier, Animal Science and Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Less than three percent of students in the College of Agriculture are carrying double majors. Only one student is majoring in both animal science and agriculture with an option in crops, horticulture and land resource management. For senior Casey Dykier, the two majors combine the best of both agricultural worlds. Dykier has found her calling of reaching out to ranchers and producers by helping the University of California Cooperative Extension with research projects.

During the summer of 2011, Dykier interned for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Tehama County under the supervision of Livestock, Range and Natural Recourses Advisor Josh Davy. Dykier helped set up and monitor research projects, went on farm calls and collected data.

A common project conducted at the University of California Cooperative Extension is seed trials, including clover, perennials, natives, and annuals, or irrigated pasture perennials. Dykier said she spent most of her time on an ongoing three-year comparison between the control of annual forages and numerous dryland perennials, including ‘Perla’ koleagrass, several wheat grasses, ‘Berber’ orchardgrass and others.

“The reasons for conducting this project was due to observations of many successful plantings from decades ago have been grazed out,” Dykier explained. “Also, many producers aren't very interested in perennial plantings, or maybe they don't realize it's an option.”

Dykier said the goal of the project is to compare production of pounds per acre of growth through fall, winter and spring. The other main objective of the study is to determine which varieties become established and successful in this area.

“We studied this by counting plants per square foot and percent cover over the three years since planting,” Dykier said. “Basically, I walked up and down transects all day with a ring and counted plants. I also entered most of the data into Excel and we are still in the process of reviewing the data and making conclusions.”

Once the data is complete, the information will benefit producers in several ways. It will inform them of the different varieties tested and the idea of planting dryland perennials on rangeland. It will also provide a comparison of 10 different varieties for establishment, within two different soil types. Lastly, it will let them know which variety is most productive in fall, spring, and winter. 

“During my internship I became very interested in this particular study and wanted to stay involved after my internship,” Dykier added. “Josh pointed out that I had done so much work on it that I should make it into an honors project that will be used towards my major.” 

This fall and winter she will be working on putting together a research paper for her honors in the major course and could potentially be published through the University of California Cooperative Extension.

As a fourth year student at Chico State, Dykier is not only working on her research project, but she is also busy as Alpha Zeta Chancellor, competing at the Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in December and continuing to help with Chico State College of Agriculture events that take place in the spring. She is also  a grader for several professors at Chico State. When she gets a chance, she returns home to Red Bluff where she often helps move and check cows on her family’s 500-acre ranch and rides her own and other horses.

For all of her accomplishments, research and academic efforts, she has been awarded several different scholarships and awards. In 2011 she received the prestigious Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award, in which Dykier was nominated by faculty for her academic and professional achievements, community service and evidence of intent to pursue an education.

She has also been awarded two scholarships outside of Chico State: the Tehama County Cattlemen Association’s Ron S. Knight Memorial Scholarship and the Farm Bureau’s Rustici Livestock and Rangeland Scholarship. The Knight scholarship is awarded to successful applicants who demonstrate a combination of great promise and a desire to work in Northern California following graduation. The Rustici scholarship is for students who intend to pursue a career with a focus on rangeland management, with an emphasis towards cattle and sheep ranching in conjunction with good rangeland practices.  

Upon graduation, Dykier will go to graduate school at Colorado State, the University of Montana or the University of Wyoming. She will continue to study rangeland management to prepare her for her career goal with a Cooperative Extension or the Natural Resources Conservation Service. After graduate school, Dykier would like to find a job in Northern California where she can also help with her family ranch and train horses on the side.