College of Agriculture

Angel De Trinidad

Star Student in Plant and Soil Science

student sits on picnic table outside apartment complex

A lot can happen in three years. Angel De Trinidad had never set foot in Chico, had no background in agriculture, and didn’t know what he was getting into when he submitted his intent to enroll at Chico State as an animal science major. Fast forward to the present day, and the junior from Orange has been named the College of Agriculture’s 2021 Star Student in Plant and Soil Science.

“I didn’t know a lot about agriculture coming from Southern California. I didn’t know there were such things as ag programs at the high school level. I didn’t even know about Chico State until I applied for college, and I never visited Chico until Summer Orientation,” De Trinidad recalled.

With a passion for science, Angel thought he wanted to become a veterinarian, and he knew that hands-on experiences with animals were needed to enter vet school.

“The biggest reason I settled on Chico was because of the University Farm having those hands-on opportunities. Agriculture was never really on my radar, so basically, I fell into it by accident,” he said.

Agriculture may not have been on De Trinidad’s radar, but he was on the College of Agriculture’s. An outstanding record of academics and leadership at the high school level qualified De Trinidad for the Bell Family Presidential Scholarship, and a phone call from then-student success coordinator Ashley Person sealed the deal. So, despite all the unknowns, De Trinidad took a leap of faith, and the rest, he said, is history.

“With everything I was hearing about Chico State, I knew it was a good school, but then I got the Bell scholarship and I was like, ‘Okay, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.’”

The past three years have only affirmed his decision to attend Chico State, but it didn’t take De Trinidad long to realize that animal science was not the path for him.

“Livestock are not my thing, it turns out, but I have such a passion for science that I looked around and thought, ‘Where else can I apply this passion?’”

Taking an “Introduction to Plant Science” class during his first semester provided the answer. De Trinidad enjoyed growing and learning about crops, and the subject offered a perfect opportunity to apply his love for science in real-world applications. He changed his major to plant and soil science with an option in crops and horticulture.

A pair of summer internships following his sophomore year further solidified his decision. Through the Chico STEM Connections Collaborative (CSC2), a program for first-generation, Hispanic, and low-income students, De Trinidad received a research internship with Professor Garrett Liles, studying how vibrational biophysical treatments can affect the germination rates of rice seeds. At the same time Professor Rich Rosecrance invited De Trinidad to become his summer lab assistant, looking at spur dynamics and fruit tree physiology in prune and olive trees.

“Through Dr. Liles’ project we worked with Lundberg Family Farms, so I was able to get out into the rice fields for the first time and get more integrated with industry. Then with Dr. Rosecrance, we were one-on-one for hours at a time, so I was able to ask a ton of questions and really build my agricultural knowledge,” De Trinidad said. “After those two internships, I felt so much more comfortable approaching agriculture related topics, so last summer was a huge stepping-stone in my confidence within the industry.”

Agriculture may be a new frontier for Angel De Trinidad, but leadership is not. He’s been involved in leadership and mentorship programs since junior high school, and it didn’t take long for De Trinidad to jump into leadership at Chico State. Living in the dorms his freshman year, De Trinidad became president of Community Council, a student organization within the living communities of Sutter,Five students visit outside an apartment complex. Lassen, and Shasta Halls. The following year, he served as the resident advisor for the agriculture theme housing at University Village, providing his freshmen residents with mentorship as well as special programming and engagement. De Trinidad now works as one of four advising interns in the College of Agriculture, offering academic, career, and life mentoring and support to students in the College of Agriculture.

“I’ve been able to flourish through the scholarships and programs I’ve encountered in the College of Agriculture, and I want to make sure that anyone else who comes in has access to those same experiences,” De Trinidad said.

That sort of mentorship is a way for De Trinidad to pay back some of the mentoring he’s received.

“My favorite thing about the College of Agriculture is the mentorship of its faculty,” De Trinidad said. “Coming to Chico I was a little lost, but the professors, especially Dr. Liles and Dr. Rosecrance, always assured me that I was doing okay, that I didn’t have to have everything planned out. Lindsey in the STEM Connections program provided the support for me to succeed.”

De Trinidad’s faculty said the appreciation goes both ways.

“Angel is an incredible human being. He is a smart, courteous, organized, and caring individual.  I am so glad that I got to know him; he can do anything that he puts his mind to,” Rosecrance said.

“Angel is truly curious and constantly exploring to make himself and those around him better. We are fortunate to have him here and I’m excited to see what his future holds,” Liles added.

In addition to the Bell Family Presidential Scholarship, De Trinidad has also received a Superior Ag Scholarship at Chico State, as well as the Mariah Atkins First Generation Award for outstanding leadership as a first generation student, and an MVP award from University Housing for excellence as a first-time resident advisor.

With one year left at Chico State, De Trinidad is mapping out his next steps. He plans to attend graduate school in plant pathology, where he can use his love of science to explore practical solutions to pest management and crop protection. Eventually, he would like to make his way to a career in higher education. What that will look like he’s not sure, but that doesn’t concern him.

“I always tell students to be actively looking for opportunities. Even if you have plans, you never know what doors will open for you, so look for those opportunities,” De Trinidad said.