…And 4 Years Later, Let the Party Begin!

By Dan Hokenson, senior, business administration major with an option in finance

And 4 years later, the adventure is coming to a close. After all the late nights studying at Meriam Library, the hundreds of Scantrons purchased and nervously turned in, and the countless numbers of essays written, it seems that my four-year experience at Chico State is finally coming to an end. On Sunday, May 22nd, I will receive my ticket into the next stage of my life – my BS in Business Administration, with an option in Finance.

I came to Chico State as a transfer student from Butte in 2009. I instantly felt like I was home at Chico State during the first week I attended classes here. I loved how intelligent the professors were, how helpful the advising staff was, and how friendly all the students were. And the best part about Chico State is how beautiful the campus grounds are, and all of the rich history and heritage in the original buildings that are still producing the world’s next leaders today.

My experience at Chico State has been one that I will remember for the rest of my life. The friends I have made up here, who I have shared the struggle of getting through school with, will remain my close friends for the rest of  my life. I will always remember the joy of finishing a semester, and then instantly crossing that semester off in my mind – “Another one down, only 3 more to go!” I eventually stopped thinking about the end; it always made it seem so far away. Once you get into the latter years of your studying, you tend to forget how close you are to the end. All of a sudden, it was September 2010 – only 8 months to go. And now, we are down to only a few days.

Looking back on my time here, I don’t think I would ever do anything differently. I am so grateful for the opportunities that Chico State has provided me. From the Leadership Boot Camp in spring of 2010, to the many career fairs I was able to attend, and the numerous on-campus interviews I have had, Chico State has provided me with the greatest toolbox I could ask for going into the “real world.” I am lucky enough to be one of the ones to already have a job coming out of school, and I owe that to the Chico State Career Center and to Chico State.

I will always remember the first day of each semester, all of the accidental naps at the library in between studying, the satisfaction in getting an A on a test, and the disappointment in getting an F on a test. I will always remember the weekends I spent with my friends downtown, the quiet (but quite hot!) summers in Chico, and the amazing array of colors that engulf Chico during the spring and fall.

And to the graduating class of 2011, congratulations—we finally made it!

BCCER: A Classroom in the Great Outdoors!

Tired of sitting in a classroom? Do you find yourself staring longingly out your dorm room window? Does parking yourself in the library with a laptop on a sunny, spring day make you stir crazy? Get out into Mother Nature’s classroom!

We are exceptionally fortunate in Northern California, and at Chico State, to have access to the spectacularly beautiful and especially well-managed Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER). Take the ultimate geologic trip through time and explore the three-million-year-old lahars (volcanic mud and debris flows) from the ancient volcano, Mt. Yana. The resulting Tuscan formation is both beautiful and the source of a great deal of university research. Nurture your inner philosopher and contemplate Thales and the origins of matter as you enjoy the meandering tributary streams and springs that feed the 4.5-mile stretch of Big Chico Creek.

A view from the beautiful BCCER.

Considering a career in biology? The reserve is home to over 140 different wildlife species and more than 600 plant species. For the photographers and animal lovers, several uber-cute Northern Saw-Whet Owls reside in the BCCER year-round! Whether you are a scientist, a student, a photographer, or an outdoor enthusiast, a visit to BCCER will inspire renewed awe for the majesty of the Earth and a deep sense of gratitude for the planet’s finite resources, as well as provide a much needed break from finals.

Both the University and the community at large benefit from BCCER’s goals of protecting the on-site natural resources, supporting (and often funding) research programs, and educating the public via outreach programs. A reserve of this size and diversity provides distinct opportunities to educate people of all ages about sustainable land management, the interconnectedness of ecosystems, and water quality restoration and conservation. At the reserve, there is a hands-on outdoor classroom that promotes delight in and understanding of our planet, ultimately leading to healthy stewardship of natural resources.

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve welcomes students and the general public for hiking, wildlife observation, and even limited hunting. Students from Chico State participate in efforts to preserve and restore the land, study the many species of plants and animals that make their home within its acres, and are ultimately inspired to follow careers in sustainable land use by their exposure to this extraordinary location.

The Big Creek Ecological Reserve is where education meets the land – so get outside, breathe some crisp air, get some exercise, and enjoy and appreciate the splendor of the Reserve this spring!

To the Brink and Back

After some of the toughest days of his running career, Ed Hudson returned to the states after finishing the Marathon Des Sables, through the Sahara desert in Morocco, in 60 hours and 14 minutes, 107th in his age group. (See our earlier blog below.)The 151-mile race left Ed with an experience that will stay with him forever—as well as some pretty torn up feet.

I sat down with Ed a couple days after he returned to the states to discuss the Marathon Des Sables. Here is a snippet of our conversation.

Overall, what was the experience like running the Marathon des Sables?

Ed: It was the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and emotionally. It was just really, really tough; but it was incredible. The logistics, the comradery, you turn into a small town that picks up and moves every morning. I think it will leave a footprint on me for a long time.

Ed with camels in the background - stage two.

What was the toughest moment during the race?

Ed: The second day was incredibly windy. It was just blowing wind probably about 40 miles an hour all day. At the end of the day was when my feet were really starting to get messed up, and I was just a couple of miles from the finish, and I was like, I don’t know if I am going to be able to finish this thing. Everything you hear beforehand is that day three is the really hard day, and I was at the end of day two—like wow, if day three is the really hard day and I’m feeling like this, and have just been buffeted by these winds and the heat and the sand all day… I think that was the toughest moment. Just like, wow, am I going to be able to finish this, because I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to.

Ed's feet all taped up.

Was there ever a moment when you just wanted to quit? What kept you moving?

Ed: I never wanted to quit; I was just worried I wasn’t going to be able to [finish]. Different things kept me going. At one point, I knew it was going to be hard, but I had to just keep going. In the beginning it was, wow, I don’t want to come back having not done this. How do you explain that to people? They aren’t going to get how tough this thing is. After the end of day two, I got up the morning of day three and just said, okay, just focus on today, just focus on the next check point, focus on just getting through this moment. Don’t think about the long stage, don’t think about tomorrow, just focus on one step in front of the other.

Hiking up a sand dune in the Moroccan desert.

What was the most memorable moment during the race?

Ed: There were a lot of memorable moments. At the end of the long stage, which was 51 miles, I thought to myself that I can normally run a 10K in 44 minutes. So I got to the last checkpoint in the long stage, and I had 10k left to go and it took me over three hours. This is when my feet were really messed up. There was another competitor, a woman, who last year got pulled out of the race because she was stung by a scorpion. She had walked with me through most of the night. We were coming across this huge plane of big rocks. They were really sharp and my feet were really, really hurting, and at some point I just got mad and frustrated and thought, I’ve just got to do something different. I finally started running with about three miles to go and after a while my feet just stopped hurting because they were numb. We got to the finish and I lost it and completely broke down. I was very, very emotional and it was funny because I heard her say “give the guy some room,” and I looked up and there was a TV crew from France with the boom mike and everything. I thought, oh gosh guys, really? This is when you are going to get my picture, when I was just completely laid bare. That was very memorable for me.

Sunset at camp.

Was the race anything like you had expected?

Ed: A lot of it was. My endurance was fine, my training had been fine. I didn’t have any problems with that. My food I had experimented with. A lot I expected how tough it was going to be. I didn’t expect how hard the terrain was to run on. I think knowing what I know now, if I were to go back and do this again, I would have worn different shoes. The rest of the stuff was what I thought, but on a grander scale; everything was much more.

The rocky terrain of the Moroccan desert.

Would you run the race again in the future if you had the chance?

Ed: Wow, that’s a really interesting question. People have asked me that and of course at the end of the race I was like, yeah, right. It was an incredible experience, and I would probably run it again for the experience. On one hand, if I went back and took 20 hours off of my time, it’s not like I would get anything different than what I got. But it was an incredible experience, so I would say that I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t go. I am going to have to wait and see. I wouldn’t say no.

Though still a little sore from the grueling race, Ed is back in Chico, ready to tackle the next big race. This summer he will captain a relay team in the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey and work the Western States 100 mile race as well as some small local races. In the near future he hopes to conquer the TransRockies and a 50-mile race.

To see more pictures of the Marathon des Sables and Ed’s experience click here.

Time to Put on Your Dancing Shoes

By Megan McCourt, senior, journalism major

On the first day of beginning ballroom dance, most people looked scared. Some of them think they have two left feet, others worry they won’t be able to keep time. Most everyone is nervous about having to be physically close to the opposite sex.

By the end of the semester, young men and women are whirling and twirling around the dance studio in Yolo 213, waltzing like European royalty and doing the cha-cha with more flair than you can find at a night club in Havana. This is the magic of ballroom dance.

When I first started in beginning ballroom two years ago, I was a little nervous. I had been dancing my whole life, but never had to rely on a partner. After the very first day, I felt at ease because the whole class was laughing, learning, and moving all together.

Having to dance with a partner and let them lead was the most challenging aspect. For once in my life, I wasn’t in control. In ballroom dance, the leader is the one who dictates what moves to do and what speed to go. I had to let the men do their thing, whether I thought we were off beat or was bored with doing the basic step over and over and over again.

Beginning ballroom student Tiffany Richter and ballroom teacher’s assistant Giovanni LoCascio dance the cha-cha in Patricia Smiley’s beginning ballroom class.

During the course of the semester, people began to emerge from their shells. By the time we learned salsa, no one was embarrassed to practice swinging and sashaying their hips in time with the music — even the guys. By the end of the semester, the entire class was confident in their dancing abilities, and many students went on to take intermediate ballroom, myself included.

Since that first beginning class, I haven’t had a semester without ballroom in my schedule. It becomes addictive once you learn how to do it, and there’s always more to learn.

Chico also has a fabulous ballroom community. Besides the seven sections of ballroom dance offered, the Ballroom Dance Club also hosts four evening workshops a week and bi-monthly themed dances on Fridays.

Students in Patricia Smiley’s beginning ballroom class work on the cha-cha, a dance that originated in Cuba.

Studio One, a community dance center that used to be housed at the Chico Creek Dance Centre, recently opened in a new 4,000 square-foot location on 7th and Wall and holds many workshops and dances.

Ballroom dance is a great alternative for students who want to meet new friends, get in shape, or just have fun. People who have never danced before can quickly learn how to swing and foxtrot, and it’s a skill that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

Don’t be caught unprepared at the next wedding you go to — take a ballroom dance class and wow the crowd with your waltzing prowess.

Pigs, Goats, and Heifers, Oh, My!

If you are anything like me, you may not know much about the University Farm. But after a guided tour by student Kayla Pauwels, my eyes were opened to the amazing things our 800-acre University Farm provides.

Split into livestock and crops and orchards units, the farm has been operating since the 1960’s and giving to the Chico State students and Chico community ever since.

“Each of our units is a separate entity. It operates as a different unit, and then as a whole we are the Chico State Farm,” Pauwels said.

Pauwels, a senior with a major in animal science and a minor in agriculture business, escorted me around the farm for an hour, describing the many different aspects the farm has.

Swine Unit

The swine unit is a bio-secure unit, which Pauwels described as a unit where no outside people are allowed in without “booting up.” Booting up consists of full overalls, boots, cleaning, and other protective gear so that the animals are kept safe from outside diseases.

Interesting Swine facts:
• The swine unit once had a male that weighed more than 800 lbs.

• Pigs are very social animals, so they’re kept in pens with other pigs so that they don’t get lonely.

Dairy Unit

The dairy cows are fully organic and are fed by organic products grown on the farm.

The organic dairy is currently the only organic dairy at a university west of the Mississippi.

Beef Unit

The farm has a partnership with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. regarding the beef. “They purchase their own steers,” explained Pauwels. “They purchase them from a local producer. They bring them here. We feed them out and finish them with brewer’s grains which are the leftovers in the process of making beer.”

This partnership is different than others because Sierra Nevada pays for everything and the farm provides the labor as well as a unique student learning experience.

Student Gardens

Classes are held at the farm where students are able to tend their own personal gardens. The teacher provides them with a list of options to grow, depending upon the semester.

There are over 200 student gardens at the farm.

Meat Lab

The Meat Lab is open to the public Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The public can come in and purchase meat harvested at the farm.

The meat is also sold to local businesses around town like Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Sierra Nevada, and Sin of Cortez.

Orchards

The orchards contain both fruit and nut trees.

Every summer the farm hosts “U-Pick Peaches,” an event where the community can pick their own peaches. For $1 per pound, you can pick as many peaches as you want, while they last. The peaches that don’t get picked are donated to a local homeless shelter.

Nuts, like pecans and almonds, are also grown and sold to local hullers. You can purchase farm nuts from the farm office.

About the Farm

The farm is operated by 15 full-time workers and about 40 student workers.

A few of the student workers, including Pauwels, live and take some of their classes on the farm. This is essential because the farm sometimes needs to be tended to around the clock.

Farm tours are available to anyone. If you want to set up a tour, call the farm office at 530-898-6343.

Retrospect

At the end of the hour-long tour, my knowledge of the farm had drastically changed, but I also got a better understanding of how much of a difference the students make on the farm. Without the students’ dedication, the farm wouldn’t flourish. The farm is home to many different living beings and a place that educates our students and the community on a daily basis.

When Pauwels was asked what her favorite part of the farm was she responded:

“How involved the students are. The things that we get to do and how important the farm is to our education. Because agriculture is a hands-on experience, it is very hard to just sit in a classroom and just teach but when you get out and into a farm like this you get to do the hands-on aspects like this. The things that I have gotten to do as a student here from furrowing pigs to working in a meat lab to operating huge pieces of equipment, it has changed the basis of my knowledge. I am a hands-on learner, I know a lot of agriculture people are and so I have learned so much more because of the farm.”

Not Expected, But Graciously Accepted

Students choose to study abroad for multiple reasons—to live in another culture, learn a new language, travel, and the list goes on. Whatever the reason, they make their choice then develop an image about their new college town.

And even though many students have some preconceived notion about what their study abroad experience will be like, it is often incorrect or incomplete.

Such was true for Robin Lind, 21, of Sweden and Daniel Fagerudd, 24, of Finland, who came to study abroad at Chico State for spring 2011.  While the exchange students chose from a large list of possible destinations, they had no idea at the time the opportunity that would come with choosing Chico State.

The Scandinavian exchange students, a short month after arriving in California, got connected with KCSC Radio and are now hosting their own show.

Robin Lind on air at KCSC Radio

By attending Chico State, Lind and Fagerudd gained an opportunity they otherwise would not have had back at their Swedish college of Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden.  Their home college does not have a radio station, which is one reason they say they love Chico State.

“Swedehearts,” the name of their Swedish radio program, has allowed Lind and Fagerudd the chance to broaden KCSC Radio listeners’ knowledge of Scandinavian music.  The exchange students also use their show to introduce the Chico community to a piece of their Scandinavian culture.

“People seem to like the music, but they don’t know that it is Scandinavian music,” Fagerudd said. “We want to inform them that the music is indeed from Europe.”

Lind and Fagerudd base their show on a weekly theme they choose.  Their themes have included singer/songwriters, independent artists, girls and boys.  Future theme ideas revolve around electronic dance music and live video feed of disc jockeys dancing.

Even though Lind and Fagerudd pick a weekly theme, they encourage listeners to place song requests on the Facebook page “Swedehearts.” Lind explained how it is sometimes difficult to decide on which music to play, so the more requests they receive the larger variety of music they will play (as long as it is from Scandinavian artists).

The “Swedehearts” show can be listened to every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in three different ways.  Listeners can either go onto the KCSC Radio website or go onto the KCSC iTunes podcast.  And if listeners are out and about they can listen by downloading the KCSC Smartphone application.

However you chose to listen, make sure to step out of your music comfort zone and support these exchange students. You never know, Scandinavian music may prove to be your new favorite type of music.

Crazy? Maybe a Little…

Imagine running 151 miles. Granted you have six days to do it, but here is the tough part: the trail winds through the Sahara desert in Morocco.

Sounds insane, right? Not to Chico State’s Information Security Manager Ed Hudson, who will be traveling to Africa March 27 to put his body to a truly grueling test.

Ed, one of 25 Americans, will be competing in the 26th Sultan Marathon Des Sables (The Marathon of the Sands) April 1-10, a 151-mile, six-day race in the Sahara Desert.

“Runners from 42 countries will converge that first week of April to test ourselves against heat, sand, and fatigue in an ultra marathon called ‘the toughest footrace on the planet,’” Ed writes in his personal blog, Greater Than or Equal 2, a blog dedicated to his preparation for the marathon.

In a little over a week, Ed will jump onto a bus in Ouarzazate, Morocco, with all of the race competitors. They will be driven into the middle of the Sahara, dropped off, and expected to live out of their backpack for the duration of the race.

Pulled from Ed’s blog, here is a description of what he is in for.

“Over the course of six days and approximately 150 miles runners are completely self sufficient except for water rationed at check points and a bivouac each night. Carrying fully loaded packs with all our food, supplies, clothing and sleeping gear the course is broken into stages equaling about 20 miles each day with a middle stage of 50 miles followed by a full marathon, 26.2 miles the next day. Compulsory items such as a compass, anti-venom kit, survival blanket and flares are checked by race officials along with a requisite 2000 calories per day each runner must have in their possession.”

This is what Ed will carry with him during the race.

Ed has been training and gathering his equipment since December and with mere days until he departs for Morocco, he explains what is going on inside his head.

“As for right now… I am a complete mixed bag of excitement and nervousness. For an ultra-runner this is like Everest so I find myself checking and rechecking my gear, wondering if I trained hard enough, should I have done more, or something differently? Can I lighten my pack somewhere I haven’t thought of? But, at the same time I feel confident. I have tried all the food, run with my pack, worn the clothes I am going to wear and am ready to deal with all the things I have control over; so what’s left is what I can’t: the heat, the sand, the scorpions!!!”

“By the way, I couldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have the support I do from friends and family and coworkers. You might be out there running on your own, but you can’t get there without others.”

Some may wonder why anyone would want to put themselves through this. The race homepage opens up with saying “Welcome to the world of lunatics and masochists.” But as Ed’s boss says “Well, it’s a super awesome goal… and maybe Ed is a little crazy.”

Crazy or not, Ed is ready for this test. So wish him luck as he represents Chico – and check back toward the end of April when we’ll do a follow up of the post-race tales from Ed.

And just like Ed signs off on his posts, happy running.

California State University, Chico