Agriculture

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Trena Kimler-Richards

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1982
Teaching Credential, Class of 1984
MS Interdisciplinary Studies, Class of 2002
Honor Year: 2014

Current Position:
Agriculture Science Instructor, Program Coordinator, and Ag Leadership Advisor, Shasta Community College

Trena Kimler-Richards grew up in a family immersed in developing and running sole proprietorships. Her family owned everything from Hallmark and candy stores to ranches and feed stores. She was also very involved in the Nevada Union High School Future Farmers program. Following graduation from Chico, Kimler-Richards taught at Red Bluff High School. She returned to Chico State to work for the College of Agriculture as an outreach specialist and part-time lecturer while she completed her master’s degree. Kimler-Richards has taught a wide variety of agriculture classes at Shasta Community College for the past six years. These courses, coupled with a sustainable 90-acre comprehensive college farm, provide students with a solid knowledge about agriculture systems. She strongly believes that her family’s entrepreneurialism and strong work ethic, along with the leadership, marketing, and public-speaking skills that she acquired early on, set the groundwork for her future success.

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Ray Griffin

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1986
Honor Year: 2013

Current Position:
Founding Partner and General Manager, FoodSource

Ray Griffin is a founding partner of FoodSource, a fresh produce sourcing and supply chain management firm based in Monterey, California, with five locations across the country. Throughout his time working in California’s Salinas Valley, Griffin has been dedicated to the agricultural industry in a variety of roles and has supported many professional and community organizations. He has been integral in developing new markets within the fresh produce arena, such as the launch of pre-packaged fresh organic salads into Canada and building international trade for western vegetables. FoodSource has more than 165 employees, and Griffin’s focused leadership as the general manager continues to motivate his successful, growth-oriented team. In 2005, FoodSource was acquired by C.H. Robinson, a Fortune 300 company.

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Bill Loveridge

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture, Class of 1976
Honor Year: 2012

A retired agriculture teacher from Loyalton, California, Bill Loveridge spends much time in the Philippines working with the Asian Christian School of Ministry. Loveridge and his wife, Susan, have made eight trips since 2002, most recently in April 2012. While there, the Loveridge’s teach at a local college. Loveridge has a longstanding commitment to community, and has served as a director for the Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District, a councilman for the City of Loyalton, and a soccer and girls basketball coach. He assisted in developing the California Standards for Agriculture Education, and he has been named CATA Outstanding Teacher and California Ag in the Classroom Vocational Agriculture Teacher of the Year.

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Dennis Choate

College of Agriculture
BS Agronomy, Class of 1980
Honor Year: 2011

His desire to attend Chico State took flight while Dennis Choate spent summers working his uncle’s farm in Gridley, California. While Choate was a student at Chico State, a summer internship with Asgrow Seed Company turned into a full time job as a field representative. After 20 years and many positions with Asgrow, Choate moved over to Harris Moran Seed Company to serve in his current position as vice president. The current position allows Choate to travel to many countries, and when possible he takes his family, wife Shawn (whom he met and married while both were attending Chico State), son Bryan, and daughter Bonny (2010, Agriculture Business). Choate currently serves on the Chico State Agriculture Advisory Council.

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Charlie Hoppin

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture, Class of 1971
Honor Year: 2010

In addition to being a partner in a family farming operation in Yolo and Sutter counties, Charlie Hoppin serves as audit and finance committee Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Farmers Rice Cooperative, serves as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, and serves on the Chico State Agriculture Advisory Council. In 2001, Hoppin played an instrumental role in getting the California State Budget passed with the “Tractor Tax Exemption,” which has provided California agriculture with $110-115 million per year in tax relief. Hoppin and his wife Kathy, a 1968 Chico State alumna, reside in Yuba City.

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George Buonaccorsci

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Science, Class of 1966
Honor Year: 2009

As vice president of grape and wine resources for Fosters Wine Estates Americas, George Buonaccorsi is responsible for 8,600 acres of company vineyards and oversees the management of the Grower Relations Department which purchases grapes and wine in most California viticulture regions. Buonaccorsi is a native of Alexander Valley, California, raised on a family-owned vineyard. For the past 37 years, he has been involved in the California wine industry, specializing in working with growers of the premium wine regions of the north coast counties. Buonaccorsi lives in Napa, California with his wife, Vicki, and enjoys gardening and cooking and is an enthusiastic baseball and football fan.

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Melvin George

College of Agriculture
BS Animal Science, Class of 1967
Honor Year: 2008

A member of the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, Melvin George recently received the highest award bestowed by the UC Davis Academic Federation, the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. Considered an international leader in the science and management of rangelands, George has developed rangeland management and water-quality protection approaches that have affected rangelands in the United States, Africa, Europe, and China. Named California’s Range Manager of the Year in 1994, George has focused his research on environmental issues associated with the impacts of grazing on water quality.

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Lawrence Crabtree, Jr.

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture, Class of 1967
Honor Year: 2007

Lawrence (Larry) Crabtree started his career as an instructor of agriculture at Sutter Union High School in Sutter, California, in 1967. The program had an enrollment of 35 students. When he retired in 2003, the program had 189 enrolled students, 95 Future Farmers of America Golden State, and six American Degree winners. He has been a positive caring role model for the profession who rallied the troops and led the charge to "Save our Bureau" and reinstate regional delivery of agriculture education. Crabtree was inducted into the California Agriculture Teachers Association Hall of Fame in 2003. 

View the entire biography here

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William Thomas, Jr.

College of Agriculture
BS Agronomy, Class of 1968
Honor Year: 2006

William (Bill) J. Thomas, Jr., earned a BS in agronomy, with a minor in botany (1968), from the California State University, Chico, where he was student body president. Bill earned his JD (1975) from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law after serving as a LT, j.g. in the United States Navy. Bill has served agricultural interests for more than 30 years in private practice. Bill represents agricultural and agricultural business interests before California governmental agencies, such as the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, State and Regional Water Boards, the Departments of Food and Agriculture, Fish & Game, and Pesticide Regulation. He also lobbies the California Legislature and works with federal agencies, such as the United States Departments of Agriculture (Forest Service) and Interior (Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management). Bill is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and serves as a member of its legal defense fund (The CATL Fund). He also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Cattlemen’s Association, as well as its legal defense fund (P.O.S.S.E.E.), and is chair of its Water and Environmental Water Quality Committee. Currently, he is a cattleman and agricultural attorney for Thomas Cattle and Best Best & Krieger LLP respectively.

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Westley Patton

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture, Class of 1965
Honor Year: 2005

Westley "Doc" Patton came to California State University, Chico in 1963 as a transfer student from Coalinga College. After earning his Bachelor of Science in agriculture, Patton attended graduate school at Oregon State University, where he met his wife, Jane. In the fall of 1969, Patton returned to Chico, where he would teach in the College of Agriculture for the next 35 years. Doc’s teaching career extended far beyond the classroom. “His teaching never stops. Even while walking through a field he is educating us,” said Brian Miller, a senior animal science minor. “He never gets mad and is the most sincere person.” College of Agriculture professor and Doc’s former student Dave Daley said, “The lifelong learning attitude, the caring nature, and his willingness to work with everyone is unparalleled.” The admiration students, faculty, and staff have for Doc is a mutual feeling. “The energy I receive from the students, the close working relationships I have with faculty and staff, and the tremendous connection we have with the industry has given me the greatest place I could imagine to work my whole academic career,” Doc said.

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Phillip David

College of Agriculture
BS Animal Science, Class of 1976
Honor Year: 2004

Dr. Phillip David began his career in genetics as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. David joined PIC International Group (later renamed Sygen International) in 1982 as a geneticist and moved up through the ranks to become president in 1991, and CEO in 1998. Sygen International uses biotechnology and quantitative genetics to improve livestock farmers breeding stock. Sygen operates in 30 countries with corporate headquarters in Berkeley, and is listed as a stand-alone public company on the London Stock Exchange. David’s teams have received the Queen’s Award for Technical Achievement, and Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.

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Lance Tennis

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1964
Honor Year: 2003

A successful farmer, agricultural leader, and advocate, Tennis credits what he learned at Chico State for giving him the foundation he needed. He often uses the accounting and management skills acquired in his pursuit of an agriculture business degree to keep the rice and row crop operation he runs with his brother Pat on track. The brothers took over the family farm in the Sutter Basin in the late sixties after their father fell ill. The two have expanded the business to include holdings in Butte County, where the 1964 alum lives with his wife Audrey. A partial list of organizations that have benefited from Lance’s leadership skills includes Butte County Farm Bureau, Northern Calif. Farm Credit, Western Canal Water District, California Rice Research Board, Butte County Water Commission, Enloe Foundation Board, and Butte County Rice Growers Association. Lance and his wife Audrey received the Ag Service Award at the 1999 Farm City Week Celebration. In addition, the Golden Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America named Tennis one of three Distinguished Agricultural Citizens for 2002.

Tennis has been married to his wife Audrey since 1967, is a father to two children, and grandfather to six. He has many years of service to boards and commissions including Western Canal Water District, Rice Growers Association of California, Butte County Farm Bureau, Butte County Water Commission, Northern California Farm Credit, Northern California Water Association, California Rice Research Board, Enloe Hospital Foundation Board, Advisory Board of CSU, Chico School of Ag, and the Evangelical Free Church of Chico.

View the entire biography here

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Stan Hodges

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture, Class of 1960
Honor Year: 2002

Dr. Stan Hodges began his post-college career in the United States Army Counter-Intelligence Corps. Following his military service, Hodges combined being an educator with being educated as he pursued his master and doctoral degrees. Hodges joined the faculty of Modesto Junior College in 1965, and served as the Agriculture Department Chair, Agriculture and Biological Science Division Chair, Chief Instructional Officer, and President. Hodges has served on the boards and committees of numerous state and community organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Doctors Medical Center Foundation and Doctors Medical Center Health Development Council/AIDS Education and Prevention Advisory Council, in Modesto, California.

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James A. Young

College of Agriculture
BS Agronomy, Class of 1960
Honor Year: 2001

Dr. James A. Young has spent his entire career with the USDA at the Agricultural Research Service in Reno, NV.  In 1995 he received the USDA’s highest honor, the Superior Service Award from the Secretary of Agriculture. The results of his research in Weed Science have been published in more than 650 publications and in 1999 Young was the only American invited to an international meeting on deserts of the world held at Moscow University. Dr. Young also serves as Adjunct Professor of Range Science at the University of Nevada, Reno, and has been a member of the graduate faculty for 37 years.

View the entire biography here

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Jason Peltier

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1979
Honor Year: 2000

Jason Peltier, an agricultural advocate and gladiator, got his start in CSU, Chico with a major in agricultural business and a minor in economics. After graduating from Chico State, he became involved in full-time production agriculture, but soon realized he wanted to do more for the industry. Peltier worked for 12 years as the assistant to the regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento.  He is a graduate of the Agricultural Leadership Program and has served in his current position for 11 years.  Peltier also sits on the California State Fair Agricultural Advisory Board and the UC Berkeley Water Archives Center Board of Directors. Currently, Peltier is a manager of the Central Valley Project Water Association, and works directly for 4 million households in Northern California and 20,000 farmers who use one-third of the irrigated land in the state.

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Sandy Beck

College of Agriculture
BS Life Science, Class of 1960
Honor Year: 1999

Sanford "Sandy" Beck is the director of vocational training for Job Corp. in seven states for the Reno-based company Adams & Associates. Prior to that, he served as the executive director and executive secretary for the California State Council on Vocational Education, where he was the liaison with inter-governmental agencies and responsible for integration of vocational education and employment/training planning, research planning, and evaluation in conjunction with and directed by the council and its officers. Beck graduated in 1960 with a B.S. in life science. He received his general secondary and special secondary agriculture credentials as well as a secondary administrative credential from UC, Davis. He earned a master's in vocational education administration from CSU, Sacramento. Following his graduation from CSU, Chico, Beck spent many years as a vocational agriculture instructor, councilor, and administrator and was principal of Willows High School from 1969-1971. He has served as regional coordinator and regional supervisor for the State Department of Education and was the general manager of the Kiwifruit Commodity Division of Sun World International.  While at CSU, Chico, Beck was president of Associated Students in 1958 and was responsible for initiating a mandatory student fee  which gave leverage for the bonds that built Bell Memorial Union. One of his greatest honors while on campus was when Glenn Kendall asked him to be the student representative at the dedication of Kendall Hall.

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Thomas Martin

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1966
Honor Year: 1998

Dedication and a passion to serve is a concept Martin has practiced throughout his career. After graduating from the College of Agriculture in 1966 with a degree in agriculture business, Martin served in the U.S. Navy on active duty from 1968 to 1971. In 1971, he took a position with Crocker Bank, where he served several clients as a loan officer. One of Martin’s clients was Durham Pump Inc., and through this he met Fred Montgomery, partner in the irrigation supply company. Their working relationship grew, and in October of 1977, Martin accepted the position as Durham Pump’s president. For the past 27 years, Martin has implemented Durham Pump’s mission: to serve its customers, local schools, and the agriculture industry. Martin was the catalyst for important irrigation facilities at the University Farm, the supplier of needed irrigation materials, a designer of irrigation systems, and has also served as a laborer on many of the projects. He has been involved with Superior Ag, a committee created to support and promote College of Agriculture programs, since its inception in 1991 when he served as chairman. In addition to his abundant support of the college, Martin has served on Chico Rotary for 25 years and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship Award. He was a member of the Chico High Future Farmers of America (FFA) Advisory Board for 15 years, and his most recent accomplishment is serving on the Northern California Farm Credit ACA Board of Directors.

View the entire biography here

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Gary Griswold

College of Agriculture
BS Agricultural Business, Class of 1965
Honor Year: 1997

Gary Griswold, a 1965 CSU Chico agribusiness graduate, has been a long-time advocate for both the university and the CSU system. A former member of the CSU Chico College of Agriculture Advisory Board, Griswold has worked, now, with four different deans of the college.

In the early 1990s, Griswold was a major force in the founding of Superior Ag, a group of College of Agriculture alumni who were instrumental in lobbying to prevent the elimination of the agriculture program at CSU Chico. Today, Superior Ag raises more than $40,000 per year to fund college scholarships, support student organizations, support field days at the University Farm, provide instructional support and build an endowment.

Griswold has served on the CSU Chico Alumni Association Board of Directors, chaired the governmental affairs committee and was the alumni representative to the CSU Alumni Council. A nut farmer for more than 30 years, Griswold has recently retired from a 39-year career in banking, but remains active in advocating for agriculture and CSU Chico.

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Wendel Lundberg

College of Agriculture
BS Industrial Arts, Class of 1953
Credential, Class of 1953
Honorary Doctorate, Class of 2013

Honor Year: 1996

Wendell Lundberg is a Partner and the Vice President of WEHAH Lundberg Family Farms in Richvale, CA. After graduation in 1954, Wendell became involved in the family rice farm in the Richvale area.  During this time he also worked as a Seasonal Ranger for the Department of Interior at Crater Lake, and managed and supervised a rice experiment in Northern Australia.  In the mid 1960's, he established a warm water fishery.  In 1968, Wendell started rice milling and sales, and in 1980 began the rice cake division of Lundberg Family Farms.  The new products and processing department developed in 1985. Lundberg has been active in the rice industry, as well as in his community and church.  He is the past director of Butte County Rice Growers Association, past member of California Rice Industry Committee, past Elder of Chico Evangelical Free Church, Director and Past Chairman of the Board for Tri Counties Bank, Director of North State Crime Stoppers, and President of the Chico Chapter Experimental Aircraft Association.  He is also a member of the School of Agriculture’s Advisory Board.  Wendell and his wife, Carolyn, have three children, Joseph, Jessica, and Alysicia.

Wendall Lundberg, '53, Industrial Arts, will receive an Honorary Doctorate at the Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 26.

View the entire biography here

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Danny Simms

College of Agriculture
BS Animal Science, Class of 1967
Honor Year: 1995

Upon earning his Bachelor’s Degree in animal science from CSU, Chico, Simms went on to earn his Ph.D. in Genetics and Animal Breeding from Oregon State University in 1973.  After teaching in Colorado and Minnesota, Simms joined the faculty at Kansas State University in Manhattan in 1979 as an Extension Livestock Specialist. He worked closely with the Kansas Livestock Association and members of the Agricultural Economics and Animal Science Departments to develop a state Integrated Resource Management (IRM) program, which looks at all the resources available to the beef producer and develops a system to maintain sustainability within the environment relating to the animals, soil, feed, and other factors affecting the cow/calf enterprise. His Standardized Performance Analysis project has been one of the most widely recognized extension educational efforts in the United States and sets the standards for calculating a calf crop and the analysis of the extension effort for beef producers.

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Rusty Arieas

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture, Class of 1974
Honor Year: 1994

Rusty Areias' long and successful record of public service is characterized by his ability to balance complex issues, especially environmental, land-use, transportation, agriculture and water, into legislative and public policy success. His ability to bring people together and achieve bipartisan solutions is most evident in the more than 100 pieces of legislation he authored as a legislator that were signed into law by two different Republican governors. Areias served 12 years in the California Assembly, representing Merced, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties. He chaired the Agriculture; Earthquakes, Repair and Response; and Consumer Protection committees, working to strengthen the agricultural economy, preserve farmland, increase seismic safety standards, lower credit card interest rates and stand up for consumer rights. He also served on the Transportation Committee and led the successful effort to secure funds for improvement of Highway 152 over the Pacheco Pass. 

As Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, he cut park fees in half, boosting attendance at state parks by 23 million visitors. He also oversaw the passage of two major park bonds, totaling more than $6 billion.He served four years as a California Coastal Commissioner, including two years as chairman. His term was characterized by problem-solving and bringing a sense of reasonableness back to the Commission's decisions.

Prior to his public service, Areias managed the day-to-day operations of the Areias Dairy farms and received numerous awards for farming excellence. In 1982, Areias was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Young Farmer in America.

Areias and his wife are the proud parents of two children. As of 2013, he is currently a Principal of California Strategies, LLC.

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Distinguished Alumni

Current Year: 2014
21st Distinguished Alumni


List of All Years

First Year: 1994
1st Distinguished Alumni

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