College of Agriculture


Dave Keyawa

Dave Keyawa didn’t want to go to college. Growing up on the family farm near Glenn, California, he started working at a young age and figured he could learn everything he needed to know about farming from his dad. Eugene Keyawa had other ideas for his son.

“‘Son, if farming goes bad, you will still have that sheep skin to fall back on. Get an education,’” Dave recalled his father saying.

Dave Keyawa said he struggled through college at Chico State, trying to balance his job at the farm, attend classes, and squeeze in enough study time to actually pass his courses. The balance taught him perseverance, the very thing he would need most in his agricultural career.

Nearly four decades after graduating from Chico State with his degree in agriculture, Dave Keyawa was selected as the College of Agriculture’s 2019 Distinguished Alumnus for his leadership, commitment, and contributions to agriculture.

Keyawa joined his father and brother Ron (Agricultural Business, ’79) full time on the family farm in 1981. Together they persevered through long hours, low pay, and the stress of wondering if they were going to make it through the disastrous 1980s farm economy. With the help of their partners and clients, Dave and Ron now farm several thousands of acres of orchards, operate their own custom hulling and drying operation, and own several Napa Auto Parts stores in Northern California.

Beyond his career success, Keyawa stays active on industry boards and commissions. He serves as a director of the California Walnut Board and Commission, where he chairs the Intra Industry Communication Committee. He is a former director of the Butte County Farm Bureau, Diamond Walnut Grower Advisory Board, and the Walnut Bargaining Association.

He also serves on the Chico State College of Agriculture Advisory Board, giving his time and expertise to his alma mater, where most of his family also earned their educations. Dave’s wife, Deanna (Liberal Studies, ’82), and their daughters Lindsay Lynch (Criminal Justice, ’10) and Kim Musselman (Communication Studies, ’12) and sons-in-law William Lynch (Criminal Justice, ’09) and Billy Musselman (Business Administration, ’12) all graduated from Chico State, along with several extended members of the Keyawa Family.

“Dave Keyawa is a great example to our students of the power of hard work, perseverance, and passion for agriculture,” Dean John Unruh said. “We are proud to recognize him as the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus for the College of Agriculture.

Keyawa received his award along with seven other honorees from each of the academic colleges and the Chico State Alumni Association at a ceremony held in the Harlen Adams Theatre on October 25, 2019.