College of Agriculture

Julie Brown

Star Student in Animal Science

Julie Brown stands in barn alleyway smiling at camera. Her father’s favorite saying has fueled Julie Brown throughout her life. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

“It just rang so true to me,” she said. “You can’t go into a room and control how talented you are, but you can always be the hardest-working person in the room. That’s something I’ve tried to live out in every aspect of my life.”

Her work ethic is just one of the reasons Brown was selected as the 2021 Star Student in Animal Science. Brown, who is graduating this spring with double majors in animal science and agricultural business, has no shortage of talent either.

She grew up on her family’s fourth-generation cattle ranch in Potter Valley, where agriculture became her first passion.

“I went through the progression of careers, like every little girl does. I wanted to be a vet, then a horse trainer, but I really started getting into the cattle industry when I was probably 7 or 8 and my dad gave me my first heifer from his herd,” Brown said.

When it came time to choose a college, she wanted one with a strong beef program. She visited Chico State, met with faculty, toured the University Farm, and she was hooked.

“I really fell in love with the professors first,” Brown said. “I met with Dr. (Patrick) Doyle and Dr. (Kasey) DeAtley, and they took time with me and made me feel so welcomed. I got to see the University Farm, and it was so diverse and with so many opportunities to get involved.”

Brown wasted no time taking advantage of those opportunities. As a freshman she interned for course credit at the Meat Lab her first semester then moved to the Beef Unit her second semester. The following spring she was hired to work at the Beef Unit, where she’s been for two and a half years, earning her way into the position of lead student herdsman this year. That role has vastly expanded her responsibilities and leadership experience, culminating in the exciting return to the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale this past January. It was the first time in more than 20 years that Chico State has consigned a bull in the famous auction, where the team sold the champion calving ease bull for $6,250.

“I have been showing cattle since I was seven, and so working side-by-side with (Beef Unit Livestock Technician) Travis Heffner to come up with a plan, and then to have us do so well in our first year back at Red Bluff, it was just awesome to be a part of that experience. It felt like such an accomplishment, and I was so proud to be able to represent Chico State,” Brown said.

For most of her college career, Julie has held three jobs in the beef industry. In addition to working at the Beef Unit, she also works as a ranch hand for Strickler Livestock in Orland. And until her school schedule and additional Beef Unit responsibilities made commuting between three cities unmanageable, she also worked as a ranch hand for Morrell Ranches in Willows. All of these jobs are in addition to the cattle herd she owns and manages with her sister in Potter Valley. Even her hobbies revolve around cattle. In her free time Brown spends most weekends at jackpot shows throughout the state, watching her sister show and helping other youth build the skills and passion she’s been developing since childhood.

Meanwhile, Brown is active in both Sigma Alpha and the Young Cattlemen’s Association, where she has served as an officer for three years. She’s been on the Dean’s List for three semesters and earned numerous scholarships throughout her career at Chico State.

She said the sense of belonging she felt on her first visit to Chico State has only strengthened.

“I feel like Chico State's winning formula is just how welcoming all the faculty and staff are. Not one person is better than any other, they're going to do whatever it takes to get you to where you want to be,” she said.

Of all the faculty and staff who have influenced her, Heffner and DeAtley top the charts.

“I thought I knew a lot about cattle when I came to Chico State, but Travis and Kasey have taught me so much, and without those two in my college career, I don't think that I would have been as successful as I am,” she said.

DeAtley said Brown’s positive personality and tireless work ethic are the true drivers of her success.

“Since Julie started as an intern at the Beef Unit, she has always been full of enthusiasm. Everyone loves working with her. It has been a pleasure to see her develop her passion for agriculture and make the transformation into being a highly employable graduate,” DeAtley said.