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College of Agriculture

Abigail Pfister

Star Student in Agricultural Business

Abby Pfister

Abigail Pfister can’t remember a day that she wasn’t the eager student in the front of her classes, asking far too many questions.  She never imagined that her behavior would earn her the title of the 2019-2020 Star Student in Agricultural Business.

“I had no idea that the faculty knew who I was,” she said. “After applying to so many scholarships, writing about my plans and goals after college, I just feel like it’s my responsibility to back that up with my actions and do my best in classes.”

“Abby stood out right away as someone who is extremely bright and curious. She goes beyond understanding what is required to pass an exam, for example, to make sure she truly understands how things work,” agriculture business professor Christine Carroll said.

When it came time to pick a college and a major, the Gridley native knew exactly where she belonged.

“Being close to home was really important for me, so when my [high school agriculture] advisors talked about their experiences at Chico [State], how they loved the College of Ag and thrived, the choice was clear,” Pfister said.

Although her school of choice was a straightforward decision, Pfister’s educational path has been full of twists and turns. With a rewarding experience in the FFA, she initially planned to pursue agricultural education.

“Being an ag teacher sounded like a great career, challenging but rewarding in the end. But it takes a certain type of person who is willing to give 110 percent each and every day, and I wasn’t sure if I could do that,” Pfister said. “That’s what students deserve.”

With a love for the industry and interacting with producers, these realizations shaped her decision to major in agricultural business. Now in her final semester at Chico State, Pfister’s nearly perfect 3.97 GPA ranks her at the top of her graduating class in the College of Agriculture and earned her Summa Cum Laude honors. She is praised by instructors for her diligence and critical thinking, and she has continued involvement with the honors fraternity, Alpha Zeta, for three years.

In her pursuit for a career in agricultural business, during summer 2019, Pfister completed a 12-week internship in operations at a Cargill beef processing plant in Wisconsin. Through the position, she conducted a project on the processing floor in order to improve the efficiency of the beef patty machine.

“We had to think critically about the entire process from the machine and freezer tunnel to the line workers, so we had to test different speeds and assess the best practices,” she said. “They really valued each of the interns and gave us projects and opportunities to succeed.”

Ultimately, Pfister’s project and new guidelines for the machine speed equated to a savings of over $165,000 annually. However, the experience also gave her a new appreciation for being close to home.

During her senior year, Pfister’s dream job became a reality when she was offered a full-time position at Cargill upon graduation. However, after completing an internship so far from home, the Fresno-based position didn’t meet her new criteria.

“Ultimately, I’d love to work in accounts management, sales, or production for an agricultural company close to home where I can effectively work with others to achieve a common goal,” she said.

On the College of Agriculture, Pfister described her favorite part as the community of students and faculty alike. With faculty who care and are willing to help, Pfister said she’s never experienced negativity amongst those in Plumas Hall.

Among those who have supported Pfister, Carroll became an outstanding figure in Pfister’s undergraduate career through her dedication to her students in and out of the classroom from moral support during advising to her poise in the classroom.

“Abby is invested in the agriculture industry. She's proud of the many good qualities of the agriculture industry but also uses her critical thinking skills to consider what might be improved,” Caroll said. “I’m not sure yet where she’ll end up in the industry, but I know she will find her niche and excel.”

Attending classes virtually during the COVID-19 epidemic has not halted her motivation to succeed but rather given the senior new opportunities. With her initial love for agriculture coming from working with cattle and horses, Pfister has been able to reconnect with rodeo and barrel racing.

“Being on a horse, doctoring, working with green horses, really gives you this sense of accomplishment that I really enjoy. I’ve really missed it so it’s been great to reconnect with that passion over the last few weeks,” she said.

Counting down the weeks until graduation, Pfister is in the process of finding her next endeavor in applying to operations and sales positions in Northern California.