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College of Agriculture

Grace Christianson

Star Student in Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Since senior Grace Christianson began her studies at CSU, Chico as an agriculture business major, she has continually received praise from faculty and staff for her work-ethic, dedication, and keen eye for detail. However, it was her newfound interest and added major in crop science that ultimately earned her the title of 2019-2020 Star Student in Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management.

Upon graduation in spring 2020, Christianson will yield two degrees in agriculture, but she wasn’t always sold on its prospect as a future career field. With a father in construction and a mother in education, Christianson’s only tie to agriculture was through her community and friends in the FFA. As her interest in law progressed, the star student put her focus into law-based camps during the summer, including one at Yale. After taking her first agriculture class at Butte College, however, she made the leap to pursue her degree in agriculture business.

“I wasn’t involved in ag at all in high school until I did College Connections at Butte College my senior year,” Christianson said. “I was interested in law and took a plant science class as an elective and it really sparked a new interest in water.”

Taking Advanced Placement classes and general education courses during her senior year, Christianson entered the College of Agriculture as a sophomore level in units and came in with a part-time job at the University Farm.

“I started working at the farm my first week of freshman year,” she said. “It was a great experience to work in the office and make connections, but after two years I had the opportunity to switch over to work in the crops and orchards, and that’s where I really learned a lot.”

After her years working in the farm office, Christianson spent the past two years getting out of her comfort zone in the crops and orchards unit. This required her to assist in production, harvest, management, and learn to operate heavy machinery. Christianson said that working with Farm Supervisor Jeff Boles, is where she learned the most and ultimately pushed her to add her second degree.

“Working in crops and orchards, I learned something new every day and is what really exposed me to agriculture and gave me hands-on experience,” she said. “Coming in with so many units done, it also allowed me the flexibility to add my second major and still graduate in four years.”

In addition to learning from Boles in the field, Christianson said he has been a mentor willing to advise her in potential careers. In her classes, professors Garrett Liles and Rich Rosecrance have played a similar role.

“All of the faculty in the College of Ag and the staff at the farm really care about students and want us to succeed and help find opportunities to get involved. If it weren’t for their influence, I wouldn’t be where I am,” Christianson said.

On the senior, Liles said, “I do not see her as an ag business or crops major, but as a prime example of the College of Ag tradition of cultivating high quality young professionals for the AG work force that will become leaders and innovators in the field. I am confident she will continue to grow with experience and make any employer happy she works for them.”

Rosecrance agreed.

“Grace is a very conscientious and serious student with maturity beyond her years. She is very hard working, not flashy, but a strong inner reserve and confidence in her demeanor,” he said.

Another key experience that exposed the senior to agriculture was the California Agriculture Seminar Class (AGRI 301), where students listened to guest speakers from the industry each week, researched top commodities, and took  a week-long field trip to visit producers and farms in California.

In addition to her job and classes, Christianson’s involvement in the Alpha Zeta Honors Fraternity allowed her to travel to leadership conferences across the country and meet new friends.

With her continued experiences in agriculture through agricultural business and crop science, Christianson sees herself ultimately working in agronomy or ag services in order to utilize both of her degrees.

“I’d love to find a perfect medium with production or management but have the opportunity to be hands-on in the field,” she said.

With COVID-19, Christianson’s next steps upon graduation are a bit blurry, however she is intent on finding her place and contributing to the industry she has grown to love.