CSU, Chico

Lindsay Swickard, Agriculture Education

Lindsay Swickard, Agriculture Education

Returning from a year in San Ramon, Costa Rica, agriscience and education major Lindsay Swickard is getting back into the swing of things at Chico State.

With a minor in Spanish, Swickard had Spain, Chile, and Costa Rica in mind when she applied to the University Studies Abroad Consortium. “When I chose Spanish to be my minor I knew that I needed to become fluent in the language, and studying abroad gave me that opportunity,” Swickard explained.

Swickard chose Universidad de Costa Rica over Spain and Chile because the dialect of Spanish spoken in Costa Rica seemed to closely resemble the Spanish typically spoken within the United States agriculture community.  Additionally, Universidad de Costa Rica offered more agricultural opportunities, and Swickard was drawn to the structure of its study abroad program.

“It is extremely important to me to be fluent because when teaching in a classroom where a student is unable to learn the material due to a language barrier is upsetting to me because I have been friends with people who are thrown into a class unable to speak English,” Swickard said. “Being fluent in Spanish will allow me to teach and help students learn English so they will succeed in my class and hopefully in their other classes as well.”

During her year abroad, Swickard took mostly Spanish courses and a few agriculture courses, including ecology and environmental issues.

Swickard learned a lot about Costa Rica’s culture, language, and even the different agriculture perspectives and farming practices.

“I really enjoyed all of my classes in Costa Rica, but the hardest thing for me in the agricultural classes was their negative perspective on cattle production.” 

Swickard explained that most beef consumed in Costa Rica should be imported because of environmental protections on the rainforest limit beef production capabilities. For this seventh-generation cattle producer from Susanville, Calif. who plans to continue the family tradition, the perspective on beef production took some getting used to.

“I met so many great people, saw many wonderful sites, and had an experience of a lifetime. However, one of my fondest memories is when I moved into my host family’s house,” Swickard explained. “Mario, Teresa, Angie, and Emily were so excited to have me and went above and beyond anything I could ask for, making Costa Rica a second home to me. I would not have been as successful as I was without them, and there is no way I could ever express my gratitude to them.”

Just as she is here at Chico State, she became very active and involved in Costa Rica. She had an internship at a local hospital teaching employees how to speak basic English. She also spent time at an elementary school helping teach students science and English. Outside of school she was involved with a Leatherback Turtle endangered species conservation project.

“Teaching Spanish to the elementary school and hospital employees opened my eyes to how they view language and what areas they think to be difficult to learn, which will benefit me when teaching in the classroom,” Swickard said.

Back at Chico state now, she has a full plate and is waiting to jump on any opportunities that may come along. This year Swickard is the College of Agriculture’s outreach intern.  In this role she will work closely with the Chico State Agriculture Ambassadors, helping to plan events and schedule tours, along with other duties.

Swickard hasn’t always been working toward becoming an agricultural educator.  She actually came to Chico State planning to major in animal science and take pre-vet courses. With her outgoing personality, natural teaching instinct, and yearning to get involved, she quickly knew she wanted to switch her major to agriculture education her first year. She also knew the value of speaking Spanish in California and decided to minor in Spanish.

Swickard changed her major to agriculture education because she enjoyed teaching, and agriculture has always been a part of her life. Swickard will have no problem becoming an FFA advisor with her extensive background as a 4-H member of 10 years and an FFA member at Lassen High School. Swickard also chose the path to become an agriculture teacher because it would allow her to work on the family ranch in the summers.

As a freshman, Swickard became involved with the Chico State Young Cattlemen’s Association, served as chair of the FFA Field Day’s specialty animal contest, and was on Chico State’s Club Volleyball team. During her sophomore year she joined Alpha Tau Alpha, Agricultural Ambassadors, and the Chico State Row Team. In her spare time she helped out at the State FFA Conference, FFA officer trainings, and Camp Tehama.

After she graduates this spring, Swickard plans to start the credential program and then go on to receive her master’s degree. She may decide to take advantage of the new online master’s program through Chico State or at an out-of-state university.