College of Agriculture

Brett Baker

Star Student in Agriculture Education

A university education wasn’t in Brett Baker’s original plans.

After graduation from Pitman High School in Turlock, California, in 2010, he attended Modesto Junior College (MJC), in addition to serving in the Fire Service for six years, working his way up to captain. While attending MJC, he reconnected with his high school agriculture teacher, Troy Gravatt, who convinced him that agriculture education could fit into his life. Now, almost three years later, Baker was selected as the 2018 Agricultural Education Star Student.

“My experience in my high school agriculture program provided a strong foundation and lasting relationships where I can still call my advisor and he’ll drop anything to help,” Baker said. “The potential impact a teacher can provide for a student outside the classroom is amazing. The great changes you can make on a single student just through caring, really drew me in.”

At MJC, Baker met Chico State agriculture education professor Brad Dodson during a recruitment presentation. He promptly made an appointment to visit, and everything fell into place from there.

“Everything about Chico felt like home. The downtown area brings me back home and the comforting faculty give the College a personal touch,” he said. “I wanted my voice to be heard and be involved, and at Chico I am able to do just that.”

Baker has become immensely involved in the College through the Collegiate FFA Club, Society of Ag Managers, United Students of Agriculture, Agricultural Ambassadors, and agricultural leadership courses. He was also a part of the CSU, Chico/Butte College FFA Field Day Leadership team, serving as the facilities committee chair in 2017 and co-chairing the entire event in 2018. In this position, he was tasked with managing 24 students on the leadership team as well as faculty and student contest chairs, which he said was a great honor.

During his time at Chico State, Baker has had the ability to form strong relationships with several faculty he says have been an influential part of his journey. In addition to Dodson, who was his first contact and inspiration to attend Chico, Baker mentions lecturers Thomas Henderson and Alyssa Schager as outstanding figures. His growing relationships with professors Mollie Aschenbrener and Michael Spiess have also provided ongoing support and moral for the star student.

About Baker, Dodson said, “I have come to appreciate his ‘old time’ courtesy and respectfulness. Brett is personable and thoughtful and always quick to ask about you and what is going on in your life, then follow up with questions that demonstrate that he genuinely cares about you and remembered what was happening in your life.”

Aschenbrener added, “I can honestly say I have yet to meet someone as poised, professional, polite and as helpful as Brett Baker. He is the first one to an activity and the last to leave. He constantly checks to see how he can be helpful to others and supports his fellow students. Brett leads by example, displaying kindness, integrity and a strong work ethic.”

Baker’s favorite thing about the College of Agriculture is the passion and enthusiasm that radiates from every student, and faculty and staff member.

“Walking through Plumas and seeing the entire faculty with open doors, ready to give you time and attention shows they really do care. It’s a family and they strive to know you, your story, and your why,” Baker said.

Baker has also had the honor of being on the Dean’s list every semester he has attended Chico State.

Outside of his academic pursuit, Baker still dedicates his time to coaching youth sports teams and plays on a men’s league softball team. An avid baseball and San Francisco Giant’s fan, he loves traveling and has a goal to visit all of the major league baseball fields in the United States.

Baker also conveys a passion for history and has paid his respect concerning the 9/11 terrorist attacks with online financial contributions and visited the memorial sites in New York several times. He also spends his free time volunteering and participating in community outreach with the fire service back home. His passion and support of law enforcement and the fire service forms his identity, which he strongly advocates.

Brett has a clear understanding of his core values and the ability to listen to others, yet respectfully articulate his views,” Schager said. “I hope that he will teach at a high school that my young sons will ultimately attend. This is a testament to his character, determination, and ability to teach and lead.”

In addition, Baker spends much of his spare time woodworking, where his passion is relayed through the construction of wooden American flags and diversified flags dedicated to first responders.  

Baker may be slower to get comfortable, but once he does, he prides himself on the ability to develop strong bonds with anyone and consequently puts those around him first.

“That’s just the way my grandfathers raised us. With respect. To be compassionate and care for those around me and I practiced this in the fire service,” Baker said.

Upon graduation with his bachelor’s degree, Baker will return to Chico State for the fall of 2018 to enter the teaching credential program. He looks forward to teaching high school agricultural mechanics close to where he grew up to raise a family of his own surrounded by family.

“I look forward to finding employment somewhere with a core group of coworkers and supportive administration where I can implement growth in an agriculture program and strengthen a department,” Baker said.

The pursuit of higher education and knowledge is also a passion of Baker. He plans to pursue his master’s degree in education or public administration, as well as keeping his mind open to achieving his PhD.