College of Agriculture


Jason Peltier

Jason Peltier fights fires.  But he doesn’t sit behind the wheel of a speeding fire truck.  And he doesn’t carry little old ladies out of third story windows.  No, these aren’t ordinary fires.  “Fire Chief” Peltier puts out heated controversies dealing with agricultural water rights and the politics that swirl around them.  As manager of the Central Valley Project Water Association, Peltier works directly for 4 million households in Northern California and 20,000 farmers who use one-third of the irrigated land in the state.

“We will give up our water when they pry our cold, dead fingers from the shovel,” Peltier says about his passion for the water issues of California.

This agricultural advocate and gladiator got his start in CSU, Chico with a major in agricultural business and a minor in economics.  In April, his alma mater honored the 1979 graduate with the 2000 Distinguished Alum Award for the College of Agriculture.  The Distinguished Alum program is an annual university-wide event that honors alumni from all seven colleges.

Peltier’s career highlights his service to the customers of the Central Valley Project and the people of California as a whole.  After graduating from Chico State, he became involved in full-time production agriculture, but says he soon realized he wanted to do more for the industry.

“I had skills to help agriculture in the big picture by being involved in agricultural policy and politics,” says Peltier.

So he went to work for an agricultural trade organization in Sacramento, then spent two years serving as the agriculture and water staffer to U.S. Senator Hayakawa in Washington D.C.  Next, 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. 

What is the result of this list of achievements?

“I have a tremendous sense of pride in the work I do to protect the farmers and rural communities of California,” Peltier says.

Peltier attributes much of his success to his activities at Chico State, and he enjoyed his trip back as the 2000 Distinguished Alum.

“I get a soothing feeling when I get back on campus because it brings back such warm memories,” he says.  While a student at Chico State, Peltier says he appreciated the positive influence of Tom Dickinson, former dean of the College of Agriculture.

“He encouraged me.  He challenged me,” Peltier says.

But Peltier’s education at Chico State didn’t just provide him with the positive influences and skills for success.  It also provided him a network of connections and lifetime friendships with other alumni.

“We have a common bond, a common sense of pride and an incredibly strong sense of loyalty to Chico and the experiences it gave us,” he says.

Peltier served as Chico State student body president and vice president, and was a student trustee in the California State University system.  He was also a student representative to the faculty senate, and the founding president of Sigma Nu fraternity.

“That was pretty good for a farm boy who never had a date until he went to college,” Peltier says with a laugh.

Apparently he got over the date problem.  He and wife Jean-Marie have two children, Joseph, 13 and Jean-Clair, 9.