CSU, Chico

Bella Leventini, Agriculture Education

Bella Leventini, Agriculture Education

While most children grow up spending their summers swimming and enjoying the time off school, Bella Leventini’s summers were anything but a break. During the warm months, you could find the 2016 Star Student in Agricultural Education assisting her grandparents with their 100-head ewe operation in Modesto, the heart of the Central Valley. 

The family’s sheep operation was started by her father and grandfather, both named Mike, as a small 4-H project when her father was young. The small project began to grow and focused on registered Hampshire sheep. Leventini Club Lambs has now become one of the most prominent club lamb operations in the state.

In sixth grade, Leventini’s parents decided to move from their home in the Central Valley to Santa Rosa, located in Sonoma County in the northern Bay Area. Throughout all four years of high school, Leventini was involved with FFA and was often asked to help other local chapters with their sheep projects. She loved helping people, and she felt that she would enjoy a career in nursing where she could help and take care of people. She enrolled in Santa Rosa Junior College as a nursing student, where she began taking general education classes as well as some agriculture classes, recalling that she had enjoyed them throughout high school. 

Leventini has always been extremely close with her grandfather, Mike Leventini, who was a high school agriculture instructor in Modesto for over 30 years. Leventini grew up watching her grandfather inspire students to be the best they could be. When she realized her grandfather’s passion for education, she decided to follow in his footsteps. After about a year of junior college, while continuing to assist with the local 4-H and FFA lamb projects, Leventini switched her major from nursing to agricultural science, specifically agriculture education.

Visiting CSU, Chico, Leventini instantly fell in love with the campus as well as the College of Agriculture. She had heard of the strong agricultural education program and knew this was the place for her. Once Leventini started her first semester at CSU, Chico, she felt that her decision to become an agriculture teacher only solidified.

“The campus, specifically the College of Agriculture, has always been welcoming and inviting since day one,” Leventini said. “I feel a part of a large family that helps each other to succeed in every way.”

Leventini has been a part of Collegiate Future Farmers of America (CFFA) since coming to Chico and is currently the club’s treasurer. She has also played a major role in the CSU, Chico/Butte College FFA Field Day for the past two years. Her first year, she served on the field day team that helped facilitate the whole event. This year, she was chosen to be one of the two field day chairpersons. It was indeed a lot of work and late hours, but at the end of the day, Leventini said she was grateful for the opportunity that she was offered.

“As a past FFA competitor in high school, it is so rewarding to be on the other side of the event and help students realize their potential by competing in various judging competitions throughout high school,” Leventini said.

She advises incoming students to dive in and get active in the various events and clubs the college has to offer.

“If it was not for being a part of CFFA as well as helping with field day the past two years, I would not have met some of my very closest friends,” she said.  

She also advises that freshmen explore their options and keep an open mind at all times.

Leventini said over the last two years, the faculty in the College of Agriculture have been nothing but helpful and encouraging. She credits her success at CSU, Chico to the agricultural education professors in particular. She feels they have taught her so many lessons, whether it concerns teaching or just life in general. Professor Brad Dodson has been one of her biggest supporters and advisors.

“I honestly don’t know how Dr. Dodson does what he does and helps the amount of people he has and will continue to,” Leventini said. “He is always a nice warm face to see who genuinely cares about the success and well-being of each and every student.”

Leventini also acknowledges the role her parents and family have had in her success throughout the years, including her grandparents Mike and the late Vicki Leventini.

“My family is one of the most important things in my life and constantly keeps my head above water when I feel like I can’t somedays,” Leventini said. “Without them, I would not be the person I am today.” 

After graduating this spring, Leventini plans on getting her agriculture teaching credential as well as her master’s degree in education at CSU, Chico. Her plan is to hopefully teach somewhere near her grandfather’s property in Modesto, where she plans to live during her student teaching. Ultimately, she hopes to continue helping her grandfather to produce quality project lambs.