Distinguished Alumni

2000 – William J. Lyons, Jr.

1973, BS History

William J. Lyons, Jr.William “Bill” Lyons, California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary, comes from a family with a long history in California production agriculture. The family ranch has been in operation near Modesto for more than 75 years, and Lyons has spent a good portion of his life dedicated to the family business.

Governor Gray Davis appointed Lyons to his current position in 1999. As secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Lyons provides leadership to the CDFA for the development and implementation of sound agricultural policy for California’s $26.8 billion agricultural industry.

Lyons graduated from Chico State with a BS in history in 1973 and received his secondary teaching credential in 1974. While a student, he received the CSU, Chico Award of Outstanding Service in 1972, 1973, and 1974.

Lyons has served at the chair of USDA’s Farm Service Agency State Committee, and he was also appointed by the Stanislaus Country Board of Supervisors to serve from 1996 to 1998 as director of the East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District. In 1998 Lyons received the United States Department of Agriculture Certificate of Appreciation.

Since 1978, Lyons has been elected to serve on a number of agriculture related boards and commissions, including the California Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors, the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors, and the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Lyons and his wife, Suzy, a CSU, Chico alumna, have four children and are actively involved in community- and family-oriented activities in Modesto.