College of Agriculture

Samantha Bright

Agriculture Education

For some individuals, defining their future can be a daunting task while for others it seems predestined. For sophomore Samantha Bright, two passions inevitably lead her down the path to agriculture education.

A graduate of Le Grand High School with heavy involvement in the 4-H and FFA, Bright was born in the agriculture industry. Her immediate family has farmed almonds in the Central Valley for generations, and Bright said her childhood took place mostly in the almond orchard. Bringing the two aspects of education and agriculture together, Bright’s mother works in school administration as an elementary school principal, and her father is an innovative agriculture machinist, building custom farm equipment.  

Bright’s passion for education and teaching began with a grading opportunity for a middle school class and blossomed into much more. The job of helping a teacher with her grading after school quickly transitioned to aiding in the development of lesson plans and curriculum. At the same middle school, Bright was offered a coaching position for the volleyball team. Her ability to connect with students, influence curriculum, and see the behind-the-scenes role of the teacher dialed her in on her future path.

Once in high school and becoming involved in speaking contests and career development events in the FFA, advisor Rebecca Bigelow-Mendoza emerged as a role model for what her future could entail.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but no subject ever fit the mold. When I got in high school, met Mrs. Bigelow, and saw how dedicated and passionate she was, it started to click,” Bright said. “Half my family is super involved in agriculture and half is very education-oriented, and my career path combines both those passions.”

Throughout high school, Bright obtained a position as a counselor at a 4-H science and adventure camp and later worked her way up to a facilitation position. There she was required to develop and lead activities that required Bright and her campers to get silly and think outside of the box. She knew it would be a challenge, but Bright rose up and valued the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone and give students a worthwhile experience.

On her path to enlightening students in education on the platform of agriculture, Bright highly values her experiences as a Greenhand Leadership Conference facilitator. Bright assisted in facilitating over a dozen conferences for freshman in agriculture education to get excited about FFA and their agriculture education courses. Her employment as a greenhand leadership conference facilitator recently ended in October, concluding her second year working with the California FFA Association.

Since arriving at Chico, Bright has become an active member of the Agriculture Ambassadors and the livestock judging team. Her place on the livestock judging team has most immensely shaped her path, as it keeps her focus on what she needs to do and solidified Bright’s path in her animal science specialty for her future in education. Coach and instructor Clay Carlson played a key role. With a commitment to her studies as well, Bright is also in the Honors program at the University.

As recognition for her hard work in her academics and in the industry, Bright was awarded several scholarships, one of which being the Bell Memorial Presidential Scholarship. This renewable scholarship recruits students based on academic achievement, commitment to agriculture, leadership, and civic engagement. Concurrent with high qualifications to receive the award, recipients are required to maintain a high grade point average throughout their course enrollment.

Aside from her intense commitment to her studies and extracurricular activities, Bright makes going home to make time for family events and visiting a priority.

“When I left for Chico, I knew I wasn’t going to leave behind my life back home. I still maintain all my close relationships with friends and family,” Bright shared.

Bright made the venture up to Chico on her own and credits the College of Agriculture for creating such a supportive environment that eased her transition. Her favorite thing about the college is the family atmosphere where the faculty and other students care about each individual’s life. When she walks down the hallways of Plumas, it’s like everyone knows everyone, and people wave and greet others, according to Bright. At Chico, Bright knows she belongs.

Grateful for the continued support of her family and friends back home, Bright also established her support system here at Chico State. She specifically credits agriculture education professor Mollie Aschenbrener for helping her stay on track in the ag-ed realm of her education and serving as a positive model.

For incoming students in the college, Bright stresses the importance of finding a place where you can get involved, meet people, and find new passions.

“It may not be the same things you thought you were interested in in high school. Branch out and try new things. Don’t get caught up in all school work all the time, because Chico has so much more waiting for you to explore,” Bright said.

In the near future, Bright expects her future to encompass stability and a teaching job at a local high school.

“Preferably, I’d like to be in a disadvantaged, low-income, unserved area in the Central Region. That is where I can maximize my impact,” Bright said. “I want to help students grow, give them support, and be a pillar for them. I was supported as a student, but I know there are students out there that need support, and I can be that for them.”