A major agricultural business thriving in its field
By Michelle Borges
Raised by parents of farmers in Salinas, “the salad bowl of the world”, Jesus Barba was surrounded by agriculture on a daily basis but did not pay much attention to it. His academics also lacked focus, as he struggled in high school and often found himself kicked out of class.
But then a teacher at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas encouraged him to join Future Farmers of America and mentored him as he attempted a range of experiences to explore possible careers. Raising lambs and pigs, judging horticulture and participating in public speaking competitions is where Barba found his passion and his way to a college degree.
“Agriculture has always been around my family, in the sense that they have always worked the fields,” he said. “I want to stop this trend and be the one in the company and not the one on the ground picking the produce.”
In addition to a host of crop and animal related projects, Barba has also taken business-related courses under the Agriculture Program, where he followed local businesses and chaired fundraising activities.
“These experiences made me feel that this is where I belong and I decided to take a leap of faith and continue it!” he said.
This month, Barba, a first generation college student, will graduate summa cum laude with a degree in agricultural business – planting a seed for even greater success.
“It’s amazing and fulfilling,” he said. “My parents didn’t have the opportunity to continue their studies – they only passed in fifth year – so being able to get my baccalaureate is a great achievement. I was able to make them proud and show them that the hard work and struggle is worth taking.
It was while visiting an organized high school in the state of Chico that Barba fell in love with nature on campus, the surrounding environment and the sense of community. Two of his high school agriculture teachers were also alumni of Chico State with great support for his programs.
“All the trees were beautiful, the weather was perfect and I felt stress relieved while visiting the campus due to the environmental vibe the campus created. I also wanted to explore the different types of farming in Northern California through my classes and potential internships, ”said Barba.
Barba exemplified his academic success by earning recognition from the Dean’s List each semester. He was also the student representative on the Dean’s Research Committee of the College of Agriculture this semester, and a teaching assistant in agricultural ecology with Professor Richard Rosecrance.
Barba enjoys working with all of the college faculty, he said, noting that he is in touch with each of his professors and appreciates the knowledge and diversity they brought to his studies. . He loves learning new subjects and being exposed to real world content such as the issues facing agriculture. Understanding concepts like water issues and climate change exposed him to what needs to be done for the future of agriculture.
One of her favorite memories was attending the Produce Marketing Association Expo with Professor Marnie Dalton in Monterey. This exhibition was about networking with industry professionals and learning about the culture of the fruit and vegetable industry.
“It was amazing to see what the agriculture industry really is. I was able to learn a lot about the industry, ”said Barba, pointing out that before college he really only knew the products, but now he has confidence in orchards and cattle.
Professor Christine Carroll is Barba’s academic advisor. He appreciates her teaching style as she focuses more on the learning aspect than on the grade itself. Barba believes Carroll really cares about students’ success as well as their understanding of the material in the classroom, and the appreciation is mutual.
“Jesus is an extremely intelligent student who always goes above and beyond every topic and task. He excels in the classroom and is truly dedicated to the agriculture industry, ”Carroll said.
Barba is delighted to start his career in the agricultural sector. His future plans are to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree and possibly even a doctoral or MBA program in the next few years. Once he has gained enough experience in this field, he plans to start his own farming business. This summer, he will continue to work in the agricultural sector as he prepares to apply for his graduate studies.
Much like his experiences in high school, those in Chico State classrooms and studying almonds and walnuts on the college farm, Barba said he was convinced that continuing to work in the field would open his eyes to opportunities he didn’t even know if possible.
“This chapter of my life has really taught me that hard work and struggle is worth taking,” he said. “I’m so grateful for the experience I got at College of Ag and for the welcoming environment that Chico State brings to their students – without it I wouldn’t have pushed myself as much as I did. The person I am today is because of the state of Chico.
Michelle Borges is a public relations intern and student senator at the College of Agriculture. She is majoring in agriculture, with an option in agricultural science and education, and a minor in agricultural affairs and journalism.