College of Agriculture

Josie Hernandez

Student holding a baby lamb

Josie Hernandez always knew what industry she wanted to pursue. Both of her grandfathers had careers in the agriculture industry, one as a veterinarian and the other working with cattle as a head herdsman.

At nine years old, the Auburn native started showing goats with her local 4-H program. From there, she slowly transitioned to larger animals. She has raised a variety of species from dogs to market steers. When she went to high school, she switched over to FFA, where she mainly showed market lambs. But her favorite species has always been goats.   

During Choose Chico in spring 2019, she sat in one of the classrooms in Plumas Hall and instantly felt the feeling of home. Hernandez knew that she would have endless opportunities at Chico State, especially with the University Farm.  

“I was listening to some of the professors talk about their programs and I felt so comfortable that I knew this is exactly where I wanted to go. That same day, I accepted going to Chico State,” Hernandez said.  

Today, Hernandez is a junior majoring in animal science with a minor in agricultural business. 

In April 2020, she started working as a herdsman intern for Miller Town Sheep in Newcastle. She had the opportunity to assist the owner with flock management and veterinary procedures. This experience helped her when applying to work at the University Farm Sheep Unit, where she had started as an intern her freshman year and is now a paid employee. At the Sheep Unit, she is helping with a lamb research project which is testing an essential oil supplement to see if it promotes good gut health.  

“I love making connections with the sheep industry as well as learning about the reproduction side,” Hernandez said. “I am learning so much about how to raise a commercial and show flock from when the lamb is born to when it is harvested.” 

Hernandez is looking into attending graduate school for researching small ruminants such as sheep and goats. She wants to learn the best farming practices for being able to use sheep and goats for a variety of projects like fire management. She also wants to help boost the popularity of raising these small ruminants.   

Hernandez loves to help with school agricultural days through educational workshops because she enjoys teaching people about raising and showing sheep and goats. She is also a teaching assistant for Professor Kate Moore’s “Introduction to Animal Science” class, one of her favorite courses and one where she enjoys helping other students learn about livestock. Another favorite class was “Agricultural Genetics” (AGRI 305) with Logan Smith.  

One of Hernandez’s biggest role models is Chico State alumna Samantha Penner (Animal Science, ’17). Penner encouraged Hernandez at a young age to show livestock, be involved, and attend Chico State.  

Within the College of Agriculture, Professors Moore and Celina Phillips have helped Hernandez with career advice. Both have explained that there are more options in animal science than pre-vet. Therefore, she decided to follow the research route inside of sticking to the pre-vet side.  

“Both of these ladies encourage me to keep going, always follow my dreams, and try new things to see what might interest me,” Hernandez said.  

She is an active member within the college by being involved in the Chico Sheep Association and Ag Ambassadors. In her free time, she enjoys volleyball, hiking and raising her goat herd at home.  

Hernandez has valuable advice for current and incoming students.  

“Try every class that interests you. It is okay to change your major to find something that you love. You will be working for years and years after college so it should be in something that you enjoy,” she said.   

Hernandez’s goal is to attend graduate school and get hands-on experience from the industry about small ruminants. Then she would like to expand her commercial herd of goats into a large operation. She wants to be an advocate for agriculture by educating others about the opportunities that the agriculture industry exhibits.