CSU, Chico

Katie Bielen, Agriculture Business

Katie Bielen, Agriculture Business

Agricultural business major Katie Bielen was part of the local food movement before it became popular. The Grass Valley native was born and raised on a small farm that raised a variety of proteins ranging from meat rabbits to poultry. Throughout her childhood, Bielen’s family sold their products to food shops and eateries in the area, and Katie hopes to continue building the local food movement in Nevada County after graduation. 

While attending Nevada Union High School, Bielen became involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) under the guidance of agriculture instructor Karen Henderson. Henderson pushed Bielen to keep going when the everyday angst of teenage life got hard.

 “She became like a second mom to me in high school, and I am so grateful to all her time and guidance throughout the years,” Bielen said of Henderson.

Henderson encouraged Bielen to run for a regional FFA office. In 2008, she was elected Historian of the Superior FFA Region, and that is where her leadership skills started to blossom.

FFA also introduced Bielen to Chico State. Growing up in Northern California, Bielen had visited CSU, Chico numerous times for FFA events. She was drawn to the friendly people and talented faculty, who made her feel like Chico was her home away from home. When it came time to choose a college, Bielen didn’t look anywhere else. She started her college career at Chico State through the Open University program while attending Butte College, then officially transferred to the University in 2014.

While attending Chico State, Bielen has been active in the Collegiate Future Farmers of America (CFFA) and the CSU, Chico/Butte College FFA Field Day. This past year she was chosen to be one of two field day co-chairs. Bielen and her co-chair, Bella Leventini, were responsible for whole event, at which 2,000 high schoolers competed in 22 competitions ranging from floral judging to agriculture mechanics. In the months it took to get ready, Bielen spent long days planning it. In the end, she said she felt humbled to be chosen as a co-chair, and she is grateful for the experience.

Although her major is agricultural business, Bielen feels a strong connection to agriculture education.

“The funny thing is that the agriculture education staff and students have helped me become who I am today. They are always pushing me to get involved, and it has made me realize that organizing, planning, budgeting, and leading committees is what I want to do. The business classes are more of a fun elective for me because I love to learn about all of it!” Bielen said.

Agriculture Education Professor Brad Dodson was one of the most influential professors during Bielen’s time at Chico State.

“Dr. Dodson has help me grow into a leader among many other things. He is always there to listen and has pushed me to be the best I can be in anything that I do,” she said.

Bielen advises incoming freshmen that agriculture majors have many options.

“There is always a place for anyone wanting to join the College of Agriculture. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—they might lead you down a path you never knew could be in store for you.”

After graduating in May with her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and becoming the first college graduate in her family, Bielen hopes to obtain a job at the Nevada County Food Hub. The Food Hub connects food producers in Nevada County with wholesale buyers such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, and other institutional buyers. In the long run, Bielen would like to open her own farm-to-fork style restaurant.

But agricultural education is never off the table, she said. She could easily see herself going back to Chico State in a couple of years to obtain her teaching credential and become a high school agriculture instructor.