University Farm nourishes real-life skills for students

Junior agriculture education major Austin Weatherby describes how he has grown as a person and employee through working at the University Farm. Photo credit: Alisa Thorsen

When the alarm clock sounds at 7 a.m., most students press the snooze button for a few more minutes of sleep. But junior agriculture education major Austin Weatherby has arrived at the university orchards and is ready to embark on a full day of work.

Chico State’s University Farm provides different educational experiences to students in the College of Agriculture.

Weatherby began working in the orchards during the spring semester of his sophomore year. He works on pruning and irrigating the orchards once they are in season.

The farm‘s orchards produces various types of nuts including almonds, walnuts and pecans. Peaches are also grown during harvest season.

“I get to the farm around 7 a.m. and we usually work eight-hour days,” Weatherby said. “When I first get there in the morning, I turn on the sprinklers to the orchard and then drive through the trees to make sure they are working well.”

The University Farm strives to provide practical work experience for students studying within the College of Agriculture. Weatherby has grown immensely as an employee during his time at the farm, he said.

Along with the orchards, University Farm also features the following programs:

After graduation, Weatherby plans on teaching agriculture in high school and possibly even obtaining an administration and counseling credential as well.

Weatherby has not only been provided with practical work experience but has also made meaningful relationships and memories from working at farm.

“The people there are awesome,” he said. “You become friends with a lot of the people you are working with.”

Weatherby enjoys working at the farm during the summer as well, when the amount of work hours are extended from 20 hours to 40 hours a week.

“One of the best things about working in the summer is riding through the sprinklers and getting soaked,” Weatherby said. “It gets really hot, so that is the best way to cool off.”

During mid-August, the farm opens the “U-pick” peach orchard, where people can pick their own peaches.

“The community comes out to pick their own (peaches), and they really seem to love it,” he said. “That’s a lot of fun because I get to work with people.”

The University Farm offers meaningful experiences for students who are preparing to go into the real world, Weatherby said.

“You learn very quickly when working on the farm,” he said. “It gives you confidence to get the job done.”

Alisa Thorsen can be reached at [email protected] or @alisathorsen on Twitter.