Building the Central Valley

Chuck Nichols
Chuck Nichols

California’s Central Valley is one of the nation’s most important economic and agricultural regions, yet it contains some of the state’s poorest counties and suffers from a deficiency of college graduates among its workforce.

Chuck Nichols ’83, ’84, president of Nichols Farms in Hanford, Calif.—one of the most prominent growers of pistachios in region—aims to bring skilled workers back to the region through a partnership with UC Davis called the Central Valley Scholars Program.

He and his wife Susan gave the initial funding to build the program which offers four-year scholarships to students interested in a career in agriculture or veterinary medicine. The program works with employers in the Central Valley to set up mentorships, internships, and networking opportunities that get students involved in the local community.

“The philanthropic element of scholarships and internships are great for the students,” said  Nichols who is president of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, “but it is also a very good business decision to be a part of this program.”

He continued, “That’s the thing that makes a business successful: it’s not the soil, it’s not the equipment, it’s not the technology — it’s the people.”