The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
Animal Sciences and Ag Education Student Spotlight: Alexa Bell
Recent master's graduate Alexa Bell has an especially unique perspective on our Fresno State Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education Department as a former office assistant, campus beef unit student worker and degree recipient in both department areas.
Thanks to mentorship by our faculty, the Clovis native recently finished her ag education teaching credentials. She also focused her master's project on creating a new set of online curriculum planning resources by working with junior high school ag education teachers across the state.
Our campus farm tour program has also flourished under her guidance as thousands of elementary students have learned about where there food comes from, could see livestock care and welfare up close, and ask our students questions.
Learn more about the background of this third-generation #FresnoStateAlum and teacher, and the impressive things that she has accomplished at Fresno State (some of which were shaped by the COVID pandemic) in this recent interview.
Q: Why did you choose to attend Fresno State, and how did you pick your major?
“Fresno State has a lot to offer, and it is located in my hometown so it made it an easy pick. I will forever be grateful that I picked Fresno State to further my education because it has been nothing short of amazing.”
“I have had quite the journey finding my career path. As an undergraduate I came into Fresno State as a liberal studies major intending to become an elementary school teacher. Then I took one ag class with Dr. (Steven) Rocca and knew I needed to change majors. I then switched to agricultural education, yet once I started taking animal science classes I loved them, so I switched over to animal science and that ended up being my undergraduate degree. However, once I graduated, COVID hit, and I did not find a career I wanted close to home. During my gap year, out of school, I decided to go back to further my education to become an ag teacher. With encouragement from Fresno State faculty, I believed in my potential to go back to school and complete my master’s degree and credentials.”
Q: Did you have any other family members graduate or attend Fresno State?
“Both my grandmother (Polly Good ) and mom (Kelley Bell) attended Fresno State years ago, and both of them were elementary school teachers.”
Q: Which classes and faculty members have had the biggest influence on you while at Fresno State?
“There have been so many faculty members who have played a huge role in my time at Fresno State, and truly all of them have been a great part of it all. Some of the faculty members who have made an impact along my educational journey include: Dr. (Steven) Rocca, Dr. (Sharon) Freeman, Dr. (Nicole) Ray, Dr. (Amanda) McKeith, Dr. (Randy) Perry, Dr. (Gayle) O’Bannon, Mrs. (Jesse) Bower, and Dr. (Avery) Culbertson. I know the list includes a good portion of the staff, but I can assure you that all of those individuals have not only been a great teacher, but a mentor that I feel like I can definitely reach out to in the future.”
“(Administrative Assistant) Debbie Russell made a huge impact on my time at Fresno State when I had the chance to work with her in the ASAE Department office. She was such an awesome lady who always shined a light within the ag department and was a joy to work with.”
“In regards to classes, there have been so many that I have enjoyed along the way. During my undergraduate degree I loved all of the animal science classes where we got to do hands-on activities at the units. For example, beef production with Dr. (Randy) Perry and dairy production with Dr. (Kyle) Thompson gave me so many fun experiences that I can bring into my own classroom one day.”
Q: Talk about campus farm units you worked at and skills you learned that you can apply to your career.
“Over the course of my educational journey I have interned and worked at the beef unit. All of the skills I have learned from my beef unit experience will directly influence my career as an ag teacher. During my undergrad I was also a farm tour guide for a couple years, where I got to take elementary school students around to all of the units and explain to them the importance of agriculture. As I worked towards my graduate degree I was the farm tour coordinator, where I successfully restarted the program after COVID, and help thousands of elementary students have the opportunity to make it out to the school farm for field trips.”
Q: Have you been involved with research on campus, and how will it benefit your career path?
“My research involved my master’s project, which included creating the first ever resourceful website for middle school ag teachers. Middle school ag is up and coming in California, however, compared to high school ag, there has not been a website for middle school ag teachers to utilize that is directly created for them in order to find lesson plans and important information. The process to create the website included interviewing middle school ag teachers throughout the state of California and creating a partnership with Courtney Castle as well as other California Agricultural Teachers' Association (CATA) members. It was imperative to learn from middle school ag teachers about what would benefit them the most. Below is the link to the website I created.”
“I know this project benefited my career path because it allowed me to make connections with many teachers while still being a preservice teacher. These connections can only benefit my future career.”
Q: What was your background in agriculture before you started at Fresno State?
“I grew up on a small pecan orchard in Clovis. I have always been around horses and started riding heavily while in high school. I jumped into ag education once I came to Fresno State.”
Q: Are you a part of any other clubs or organizations at Fresno State or involved in any noteworthy activities or competitions?
“As an undergraduate I was on the Fresno State equestrian team story where I made many connections.”
Q: What types of campus scholarships have you received as a Fresno State student?
“I have received many scholarships over my years, including these from the Ag One Foundation: Ag One-Fresno County Farm Bureau Scholarship, Ag One-Ross Borba, Sr. Family Scholarship, Ag One-William R. Verdugo Memorial Grant, and Ag One-Clovis Community Ag Scholarship.
Q: What's your potential next career step after graduation?
“I have been hired by a school district within the Central Valley where I will start my career as a high school ag teacher.”