CSU, Chico

Quintin Troester, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Quintin Troester, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Senior crops, horticulture, and land resource management student Quintin “Quin” Troester is no stranger to hands-on learning. From managing a food cooperative focused on raising awareness of food to traveling to Costa Rica and partaking in development work, Troester has a deep appreciation for soil science, international development work, and learning about different methods of farming. 

He grew up in Chico after spending his first four years of life overseas in Cambodia. His parents traveled to Cambodia to implement projects for draft animal vaccine campaigns, small-scale irrigation projects, microenterprise loans, and prosthetic limb production for amputees. They also facilitated peace and reconciliation projects in wake of the Pol Pot regime. From that point on, his desire to travel has remained constant.

Growing up, Troester always had an appreciation for the environment, but he wasn’t ever specifically involved in agriculture. His parents moved to California from Colorado, where his father studied agriculture at Colorado State University and his mother went to school to become a labor and delivery nurse. Troester’s father worked in agricultural education and development in Zaire and the Congo before Troester was born, which sparked Troester’s interest in going abroad from the start.  

Troester attended Cabrillo Junior College in Santa Cruz where he founded and directed a food cooperative, managed a bike cooperative, took part in various farm and garden projects, and became involved in an organization called Food Not Bombs, where members prepared and distributed meals to the homeless in Santa Cruz.

“I became aware of food waste after my experience working in college dining halls and wanted to make some of that wasted food available to others,” he said.

From Cabrillo Junior College, Troester transferred to California State University, Chico where he was able to support his family in Chico and continue his studies in the College of Agriculture. Upon moving back, he started working for Massa Organics, a farm out of Hamilton City that produces organic rice, almonds, pork, and lamb. Troester continues to work seasonally for Massa Organics, taking care of the animals and conducting field work.

The College of Agriculture has been an integral part in Troester’s experiences. He says his favorite thing about the College of Agriculture is the breadth of options available in classes and the potential careers. He enjoys studying ecology, soils, entomology, and natural systems. Soil science has become one of his favorite subjects, and he credits soils professor Mitch Johns for his affinity for the subject. In AGRI 490, Agricultural Experimental Research, Troester researched the effects of biochar as a soil amendment. Agriculture Ecology, a course which introduces methods of integrating environmental services with agricultural production, has also attracted him.

Troester plans to pursue a career in soil and watershed management. He wants to continue field research, data collection, water health surveys, and soil analysis. He intends to remain involved in organic farming, and he also hopes to attend graduate school and eventually teach soil science as a college professor.

After sharing his interest in international agriculture with his professors, Troester learned of an opportunity to work with partners of the College of Agriculture in Costa Rica. With the help of Professors Betsy Boyd and Lee Altier, he was awarded a grant through CSU, Chico which allowed him to pursue this opportunity.

During the summer of 2014, he traveled to Costa Rica through a Chico State Research and Creativity Grant for a two-month internship in organic agriculture development. His host, an organization named CEDECO, is a nonprofit NGO that supports the development of organic agriculture in Latin America through education, networking, and research. Troester worked with CEDECO’s team in San Jose, Costa Rica, and at the University of Costa Rica’s Center for Agricultural Research. Working alongside Costa Rican farmers for about two weeks and learning from their practices was his favorite part of the work.

“I really appreciate what their goals are and the ways they go about achieving those goals,” Troester said. “I hope to focus on research that will be valuable to them, since they provided me so much in my time there.”

Knowing only limited Spanish he learned in high school, Troester picked up more of the language while working with Spanish speakers. “I could probably tell you more about soil microorganisms than how to get somewhere on the bus,” he said.

Troester learned locally adapted technologies used by small-scale producers around San Jose and took part in research evaluating a low-cost method of soil analysis called paper chromatography. With soil, compost, and compost tea samples from various farms, he prepared “chromas” to analyze. Once completed, he would compare them with chemical and biological laboratory analysis to assess their accuracy. The research was conducted as a pilot study, but it gave the farmers a direction to pursue further study and implementation. Troester remains in communication with the farmers and CEDECO, and he is eager to find more students interested in exchange programs such as his.

Through his experiences in Santa Cruz and in his time abroad, Troester has witnessed and worked with many different methods of farming,

“The most important thing I’ve learned is staying open to all perspectives in agriculture in order to develop an adaptive system of production, capable of meeting the social and environmental changes we face,” he says. “I’m learning how to voice my ideas in ways that relate and are relevant to anyone.”

The experiences that Troester has taken part in through education, research, international development, and work experience have shaped his interests and career direction. He is optimistic that these experiences will help him to be effective in making positive change toward more socially just and environmentally sustainable food systems.