1998 - 5th Distinguished Alumni

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Thomas Martin

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1966

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.

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Natalie Birk

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Science, Class of 1982

Natalie Birk has recently relocated to Chicago, Illinois, and has completed her first nonfiction book. She is co-founding the U.S. affiliate of Anti-Slavery International, which is the lead Western organization funding anti-slavery work on the ground in the African country of Mauritania.

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Frank Nisonger

College of Business
BS Business Administration, Class of 1974

No biographical information available at this time

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Kelly Craighead Mullen

College of Communication & Education
BA Recreation, Class of 1989

Kelly Craighead-Mullen was special assistant to US President Clinton and director of advance to the First Lady. Craighead graduated in 1989 with a B.S. in Recreation Administration and valuable experience as vice president of the Associated Students. Following graduation, Craighead left Chico for an internship position in Washington, D.C. with a fundraising firm.

Since 1992, Craighead has traveled throughout the United States and to over eighty countries across six continents.

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Larry Gee

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management
MS Computer Science, Class of 1976

No biographical information available at this time.

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Richard Ostlund

College of Humanities & Fine Arts
BA Theater Arts/Drama, Class of 1974

Richard Ostlund received a BA in theater arts/drama from CSU, Chico in 1974. He is currently the director of development for Michael Lee Productions at the CBS Television Network in Hollywood where he looks for new talent and projects to produce as movies and series for television.

Ostlund has performed in the musicals Hello Dolly, The Pajama Game, The Wizard of OZ, and West Side Story. He has been on several television shows, including Days of Our Lives, Dynasty, Falcon Crest, and Perfect Strangers. He has worked as an agent representing basketball star A.C. Green and many other celebrities.

In 1996 Ostlund developed and produced from an original idea the Lifetime Event Movie Color Me Perfect, a story which he describes as a cross between a modern day Frankenstein and My Fair Lady, in which a woman is subject of a radical DNA therapy experiment. Color Me Perfect won the 1997 Christopher Society’s Award which honors “works of art which affirm the highest values of the human spirit.”

Ostlund’s professional affiliations include SAG, AFTRA, EQUITY, and the Academy of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences.

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Jack Farmer

College of Natural Sciences
BS Geology, Class of 1969

Jack Farmer is a Professor of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration. He received his B.A. in Geology from CSU, Chico in 1969 and his M.S. in Geology from the University of Kansas in 1971. In 1978, he received a Ph.D. in Paleobiology from UC, Davis. He was a graduate research assistant at the University of Kansas, and became a research associate during and after his studies at UC, Davis. In 1981, he became a senior geologist for Exxon Company in the Western Division Production in Thousand Oaks, California, and served as a senior post-doctoral fellow for the National Research Council at the NASA Ames Research Center. In 1993, Farmer became a research scientist for SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. Farmer continues to share his passion for geology through college teaching, television appearances, and numerous abstracts and papers published in professional journals and books. On a personal level, he is involved in education outreach with the local Native American community.

When he is not teaching classes or mentoring graduate students, he is an active member of the Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity science team, which has been exploring Mars since 2004. He is also a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover, which has been actively exploring Gusev Crater on Mars since landing on Aug. 5, 2012.

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