Five students from Indian Valley Academy’s  Future Farmers of America (FFA) Ag Leadership class will attend the Western Regional Grazing Conference: Grazing for Change at Chico State in February on a scholarship. The FFA students applied to the scholarship program, facilitated by the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, and completed a formal interview process in order to receive the scholarship.

Students gain real-world experience

Indian Valley Academy Ag teacher Katie Harris simulated a formal job application process to give students a taste of the real-world. For some, this was their first interview experience.

“I want them to know that deadlines are real. Turning in a solid, complete application is the only way to advance in a job application process,” Harris said. Ten students applied for the scholarship. Interviews were conducted on campus by Jefferson Center owners Abbey and Spencer Smith and University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Holly George.

“We were blown away by the quality of the applications and the thoughtfulness, depth and creativity the students exhibited in the interviews. We left feeling inspired and so hopeful for the future after spending time with all the applicants from Indian Valley Academy. What a great group of students,” Spencer Smith said.

Smith led the students on a field walk at Brian and Heather Kingdon’s ranch in Indian Valley earlier that morning. He explained the basic principles of holistic management to the group and pointed out examples of ecosystem processes on the field trip. For some students, this was their first exposure to holistic management and they grasped the concepts immediately. Some interview questions focused on the concepts of holistic management.

“Holistic management can be hard to articulate, and some of the students absolutely nailed it in the interviews,” Abbey Smith said.


Buel Mouser scholarship, Indian Valley Academy, Holistic Management, Jefferson Center
Indian Valley Academy Director Sue Weber, Ag teacher Katie Harris, UCCE Farm Advisor Holly George and Jefferson Center for Holistic Management Manager Spencer Smith review IVA scholarship applications and interview results from the 10 students who applied to attend the Grazing for Change conference. Jefferson Center boss, Maezy Smith, helps.

Taylorsville, California, holistic management, field walks, Indian Valley Academy
Jefferson Center Manager Spencer Smith leads the Ag Leadership class from Indian Valley Academy on a field walk at the Horseshoe V Ranch in Taylorsville, Calif.

Buel Mouser Memorial Scholarship promotes regenerative agriculture

Buel Mouser, holistic management, Chico State University
Chico State University Agriculture Professor Buel Mouser, 2005.

The students competed for three Buel Mouser Memorial Scholarships to attend the Grazing for Change conference in Chico Feb. 27 and 28, 2015. The students awarded the scholarship will have their conference registration fees covered by the scholarship. A fourth scholarship for registration fees was provided by Brian and Heather Kingdon. Indian Valley Academy provided the fifth.


“This whole process was an excellent example of the Indian Valley community coming together to provide opportunities for our students and find creative solutions to the future of our region. I am honored to be part of the process,” Abbey Smith said.

Indian Valley Academy scholarship winners 2014, holistic management, grazing for change, western regional grazing conference
The Indian Valley Academy recipients of the Buel Mouser Memorial Scholarship and the Grazing for Change Scholarship. From left to right: Julianne Cook, Weston Meyers, McKenna Cook, Peyton Working, Chris Gibson.


Professor Buel Mouser grew up farming and providing for his family on land purchased and developed by his parents in the Bakersfield, Calif. area.  He served as the farm manager at Chico State University starting in the early 1960’s.  During his time as farm manager he worked on his formal education in agriculture. He received a master’s degree and became a professor of agriculture in his late 50’s and early 60’s.  His thesis detailed his quest to develop a hybrid cotton variety that would grow in northern California, specifically at the Chico State University Farm. He succeeded in developing this variety.


” It was an exciting time. I have an adorable picture of [my husband] Randy in one of the first cotton fields at the farm holding [my sons] Jared and Tyler. We still have some of the cotton and cotton stalks in my mom’s garage,” said Mouser’s daughter, Valerie Pew.

 As a professor, Mouser was very dedicated to his teaching.  The classroom was the place for him to pass on his love of agriculture and the farm was the place to put all those teachings into practice.
“Dad was all about the revitalization of our lands, especially dwindling private farming/ranching lands,” Pew said.
“He felt that, yes, management began in the classroom; however, he put just as much importance of being hands-on in the field.  That is where the true education of taking care of our lands, cattle, crops, began,” she said.
Mouser was proud of his work as a small business farmer, as a farm manager, and as a professor at Chico State.  He knew the daily hardships of being part of the two to three percent of the population who feeds the United States; he knew that it was necessary to pass all this knowledge on to future farmers.
“It is important to know that Dad was a supporter of furthering education but also understood the value of life’s education.  Both equally of importance to him.  He was a good sounding block to all his family, his students in the local church and at Chico State.  We all have learned the importance of integrity in all that we do and say,” Pew said.
To reflect the deeply held values of Buel Mouser, the interview process asked students to explain a time when they applied the values of hard work and integrity to reach a goal.
“We believe Buel Mouser would be proud of the students, ” Abbey Smith said, “they face the challenges in their lives with hard work, creativity and integrity. We are looking forward to their contributions to Indian Valley, and agriculture, after attending the Grazing for Change conference.”
For more information and to register for the conference, go to



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