College of Agriculture

Miriam Espinoza

Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Members of the Chico State Organic Vegetable Project’s (OVP) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) may recognize Miriam Carrasco Espinoza as one of the warm and inviting faces that greets them each week when they pick up their vegetables from the University Farm. Although the senior crops, horticulture, and land resource management major may have made her mark in many community members’ hearts and stomachs working at the OVP, it’s her strong work ethic and kind nature that have made her a leader in the College of Agriculture.

miriam espinozaEspinoza’s favorite quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” truly depicts her venture to Chico. What she got was a new home, lifelong friends, her husband, and endless opportunities.

Despite growing up in the Salinas Valley’s King City with parents in production agriculture, and working in the field herself since the age of 16, Espinoza did not envision herself studying agriculture at Chico State. Upon graduation from King City High School, she was offered a position to play soccer at a local junior college, and the temptation to remain near her family was strong. But when a friend encouraged her to leave the nest and visit Chico, Espinoza took the risk.  

“I’m very close to my family and they have given me nothing but love and support and they are a huge part of my life, but at some point you just have to get away to discover yourself. Chico gave me that opportunity.” Espinoza said.

At Chico State, Espinoza’s studies in crops and horticulture have solidified her interest in a job in production agriculture. She looks forward to obtaining her license as a Pest Control Advisor or Certified Crop Advisor. Additionally, she hopes to attend graduate school to ultimately obtain her PhD with a focus in plant and animal genetics. Espinoza credits Professor Kasey DeAtley’s agricultural genetics course (AGRI 305) with igniting an interest in DNA replication and transcription that she plans to further explore in graduate school.

Espinoza also has been involved with undergraduate research projects at the University Farm. Under the guidance of Professor Garrett Liles, Espinoza took part in a collaborative project with students from the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management to study the impacts of musical vibration on seed germination. She also conducted a project with Professor Hossein Zakeri looking at the effects of water stress preconditioning on yield and some physiological traits of corn under field conditions. Although the project with Zakeri is ongoing, Espinoza had the opportunity to present preliminary results in the Chico STEM Connections Collaborative (CSC2) Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Grateful for the support and encouragement from faculty, Espinoza mentions Zakeri and Professor Betsy Boyd as mentors in her academic discipline and Professor Tommy Henderson as a constant source of positivity and encouragement when needed.

 “The faculty are always there, with open doors to help whether it’s about classes or personal. They really do care,” Espinoza said.

Outside of the College of Agriculture, Megan Kurtz and Tasha Alexandra served as mentors for Espinoza in the TRIO-Student Support Services program, which coaches first-generation college students and which she credits with keeping her on track academically. Her husband Oscar, whom she met in Chico, and his family have also been a constant support system.

Gaining further experience in her field, Espinoza has obtained two concurrent internships in crop production. At the University Farm, she works at the OVP, which provides fresh organic produce to the community and campus.

“My job at the OVP has opened so many doors and been a great experience, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if not for my supervisor, Colleen Wofchuck,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza also works as an intern in the receiving department for Crain Ranch in Los Molinos, where she hopes to continue employment following graduation.

For incoming freshmen in the College of Agriculture, Espinoza encourages them to be open-minded and make friends in classes, as they are a constant support system throughout college.

Although she self-describes as a lover of science, coffee, and the gym, Espinoza is praised by college faculty for her work ethic and kind, respectful nature. While juggling internships, research projects, and classes, Espinoza always finds time to stay active at the Wildcat Recreation Center (WREC) and enjoys playing on intramural soccer teams.

“Campus is full of good people you can surround yourself with and study with,” Espinoza said. “You’d be surprised how many people you’ll start to recognize later on walking across campus and saying ‘hi’ to.”