CSU, Chico

David Sterle, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

David Sterle, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

David Sterle is living proof that a background in agriculture is not a prerequisite to be successful in the California State University, Chico College of Agriculture. The senior crops, horticulture, and land resource management major did not grow up in agriculture, but he has found his calling in the agriculture field.

"I see this career area as the one field that can make an impact on the world," Sterle says, "I would love to travel abroad after graduation to do sustainable development work with developing countries."

As a Chico native, Sterle attended Chico High School. In high school, he was in the Academy of Communications Technology (ACT). ACT consisted of a group of classes that were all tied together through technology. The same cohort of students was in the same classes for all four years of high school, and the group focused on computer use and video editing. He also played lacrosse in high school for two years with the Chico Rebels.

Sterle transferred to CSU, Chico from Butte College with an Associate Degree in Social and Behavioral Science. He never pictured himself coming to CSU, Chico. He enjoys traveling and exploring new territory, and Chico State is nearly in his backyard. However, after learning about the agriculture program, Sterle couldn't see himself anywhere else. 

"When I first came to the College of Agriculture, it was not at all what I expected," he says. "I envisioned agriculture as its stereotype of camouflage and rednecks; however, I've learned that the people in the College of Agriculture are much more diverse than you would have expected. They're the same as everyone else."

After graduating in the fall of 2013, he plans to attend graduate school to receive his master's degree.  He attributes his decision to pursue his master's degree to Plant Science Professor Rich Rosecrance, who encouraged him to follow his dreams.

"The teachers in the College of Agriculture want to get to know you," Sterle says. "They're extremely helpful by pushing you to achieve your goals. I have spent time with Rich outside of the classroom and he's been very influential to me and my guided my academic achievements."

Sterle spent last summer working with Rosecrance on an internship in the olive orchards at the University Farm. The internship involved fixing the irrigation system to be sure water reached the olive trees, as well as pruning the trees, tying them to the trellis system as they grew, and controlling weeds.  He also helped Rosecrance conduct research evaluating fertilizer uptake in the olives. 

Rosecrance believes that Sterle is on the right track to a successful career. "David is a mature and very independent student," Rosecrance says. "He is an incredible and hardworking student. I had the opportunity to work with him last summer after offering him a paid internship at the olive orchard at the University Farm and didn't regret it for a second!"

This summer, Sterle has accepted an internship with Deseret Farms as an agronomy intern. He first made contact with the local company when his class visited its facilities in his fruit and nut production class. After giving a copy of his resume to a Deseret Farms representative at the annual College of Agriculture Career Fair, Sterle was called to set up a phone interview. A few weeks later, he was offered the internship. Deseret Farms is located north of Chico on Wilson Landing Road. They produce walnuts and prunes, and Sterle will be interning within the walnut production side of the company.

During his free time, Sterle is an avid and passionate backpacker. Some of his favorite places include the Trinity Alps, the High Lakes near Butte Meadows, Lake Basin, and Point Reyes. He has always liked camping, but took up backpacking on overnight trips after high school. "I went on a poorly planned trip to the High Lakes where my transmission went out and we had to hike six miles or so with no gear or food until we made it to a campsite," Sterle says. "The adventure of it was exciting, and from then on I started backpacking pretty regularly during my time off."

After graduating in the fall, Sterle's long-term career and research goal is to develop sustainable cropping systems that will improve the quality of agricultural lands.