CSU, Chico

Derek Mench, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Derek Mench, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

College football is the reason Derek Mench is at CSU, Chico. No, the University hasn’t started a new athletic team. But if Shasta College hadn’t recruited the crops, horticulture, and land resource management major to play football, he would have gone straight to Oregon State University out of high school, where he had already registered for school and applied to live in the dorms. Instead, Shasta College’s football team came calling at the end of his senior year, so Mench withdrew from Oregon State and played football for two years at the community college in Redding. It was at Shasta College, while earning both an associate degree in agriculture sciences and 2013 Defensive All Conference Player recognition, where Mench decided to further his education in agriculture at California State University, Chico. 

Mench is from Colusa, California, and grew up participating in 4-H and FFA, raising and exhibiting market steers at the Colusa County Fair. His parents own a local convenience store in Williams, where his interest in plant science led to the addition of fruit sales to their store. In 2010 he went to work for SB & L Ranches in Williams, California, where his duties included running the bank out wagon and the nut elevator during almond harvest as well as controlling the irrigation drip line.

“It was during my experience as a farmhand when I knew agriculture was something I wanted to study and be involved in for my career path,” Mench said.

After graduating from Maxwell High School and entering Shasta College, Mench met agriculture coordinator and instructor Trena Kimler-Richards, who would become an influential mentor throughout his college career. Mench took on a large role in the agriculture department at Shasta College and served as the agriculture leadership president under Kimler-Richards’ guidance. Kimler-Richards also encouraged Mench to continue his education in crops, horticulture, and land resource management at CSU, Chico.

Mench transferred to Chico in the spring of 2013, drawn by the opportunities for hands-on learning in the agriculture program. Mench is now a senior in the College of Agriculture.

“My favorite part about belonging to the college is the small community where everyone helps everyone,” he said.

He also credits his advisor, plant science professor Elizabeth Boyd, for her guidance at CSU, Chico.

His past work experience illustrates not only his familiarity with working outside but also his passion for it. Mench says he enjoys the hands-on education he receives at CSU, Chico.

“Having the opportunity to actually deal with weeds, not just look at them from a classroom, creates a great learning experience for a PCA job,” he said.

For three years Mench has worked for Colusa County Farm Supply, a chemical and fertilizer company, as a field man. His job duties consist of walking fields and orchards to scout for insects, disease, and weeds and coming up with management programs to solve these problems for the farmer. In addition to being a field man at Colusa County Farm Supply, Mench has worked on research projects conducted there. During the summer of 2014, Mench helped out on projects studying smallflower weed resistance in rice, Alternaria disease in almonds, and blight disease in walnuts.

“The research tested new chemicals, chemical rates, and application timings to see how we can control these weeds and diseases. I helped with chemical applications, evaluations, and harvest sampling,” Mench said.  

Mench is also a member of the California Association of Pest Control Advisors and the Crop Science and Horticulture Club at CSU, Chico. With the background and experience of years of school, real-world application in his jobs, and research in the field, Mench’s hard work and success has allowed him to receive multiple scholarships over the years. Just in the last year, the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association awarded Mench a $2,500 scholarship.

Mench intends to graduate from CSU, Chico in the spring of 2015 with a major in agriculture, an option in crops, horticulture, and land resource management, and a minor in agriculture business. He plans to become a full-time pest control advisor for Colusa County Farm Supply. He eventually hopes to have his own piece of land in Northern California.

Boyd, Mench’s advisor, praised his character.

“Derek does what he does from the heart, with great humility, and no expectation of reciprocation,” she said. “He jumps in to volunteer, is dependable, and has high expectations. As a result, his work ethic and commitment to success are highly apparent and appreciated.”