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Ag education gets $2 million boost at Chico State

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  • Largest-ever donation to California State University, Chico will benefit students in the Department of Agriculture through annual scholarship program.

The cause of agriculture education at my alma mater, California State University, Chico, was just enhanced by $2 million.

Dan Guistina, the managing general partner of Giustina Resources, an Oregon-based timber company, presented his donation to university President Paul Zingg in an event that was carried live online.

Guistina’s ties to the university are linked through his longtime friend, the late Tom Bell. Bell was a rancher from southern Oregon and northern California whose family ranched in Butte County, where Chico State is located, dating back to 1875.

Tom Bell, who managed the Bell Ranch, including more than 16,000 acres in California and Oregon, passed away in 1987.

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The Bell family’s association with the university in Chico goes back to when it was called Chico Normal School. Guistina’s friend, Tom, had an aunt who attended the school when it opened to students in 1889. Ninety students were enrolled that first year at Chico Normal School, which was formed by the California Legislature for the purpose of training and educating teachers.

Land for the college was first provided by another farmer, John Bidwell, who donated his eight-acre cherry orchard to secure the northern branch of the State Normal School.

During the ceremony, Guistina briefly recounted the story of meeting Bell while the two were in ranching in southern Oregon. The endowment is just one way in which Guistina honors the friendship he and Bell had. It also marks Guistina’s commitment to promoting education, which he also generously supports at the University of Oregon by donation.

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