Retired teacher, alum wins $10,000 magazine survey contest

Linda Hubbs will direct support to Student Farm, California Raptor Center

By Courtney Tompkins | May 15, 2024

Even though Linda Hubbs, ’76, cred. ’77, was raised by a farming family from Iowa, tapping into her rural roots at UC Davis still surprised her.

“Digging around in the dirt is one of my core memories at Davis,” said Hubbs, who recalled enjoying juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes on hot summer days. “I never knew watching something grow could be so relaxing.”

As the winner of this year’s In Greater Focus magazine survey contest, Hubbs said those memories, coupled with her love of animals, inspired her to direct the $10,000 prize money to two areas: the Student Farm and the School of Veterinary Medicine’s California Raptor Center.

Hubbs is one of thousands of readers who were offered a chance to fill out an online survey to be entered to win $10,000 from the UC Davis Foundation that could be designated to any area of campus.

“It was pretty surreal,” she said. “I saw an email with a subject line that read, ‘You’re a winner,’ and I thought, ‘Oh no, this has to be a scam.’”

But it turned out to be the real deal. And then came the hard part — deciding where to direct the funds.

“I quickly realized how many ways there are to give to UC Davis, so I’m glad I was able to split the prize in half to support two areas I am passionate about,” she said.

Elevating care for large birds

A large bird of prey is perched on a handler's gloved hand.

As a loyal donor to UC Davis for more than 30 years, Hubbs has previously supported areas across campus, including the School of Education and Cal Aggie Alumni Association’s Endowed Scholarship Fund.

While trying to determine where to direct the prize money, she reached out to a former student who suggested Hubbs consider the California Raptor Center.

“We have a local wildlife rescue near my home in Lone Pine and they send some of their injured birds to UC Davis for care,” Hubbs said. “I already support Wildcare Eastern Sierra, so it seemed like a natural fit.”

In addition to caring for hundreds of injured or orphaned birds each year, the center provides hands-on training to those interested in rehabilitating and caring for raptors. It also offers educational programs to schools, ecological and environmental organizations, and the community.

“I hope this gift helps expand the spaces where they rehabilitate the birds or goes toward anything on their wish list they’ve been needing to invest in,” Hubbs said.

Sowing seeds at the Student Farm

A wooden wagon with the words "UCD student farm" written on it.

Hubbs finished her education at UC Davis in 1977, the same year the Student Farm officially formed with a small group of students who planted their first crops on a parcel on the west side of campus.

Prior to that, there were student garden plots in the fields near the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and Primero Halls student housing (as it was named at the time), where she resided.

“Student gardens at UC Davis have been a longtime tradition,” Hubbs said. “It’s where I learned that I love to garden, so directing $5,000 to the Student Farm was an easy choice.”

Today, the 23-acre Student Farm provides students and community members with quality produce. The farm also has a leadership program to help grow future leaders, the Community Supported Agriculture project, which includes allocations of fruits and vegetables as well as fresh flowers. They also provide over 10,000 pounds of produce each year to the UC Davis Student Pantry. 

“Having the opportunity to garden is great for students who are from a more urban environment or who are missing their rural roots like I was,” Hubbs said. “I hope these funds support projects to enhance their spaces and provide new learning opportunities.”

Teaching through the generations

Hubbs met her late husband, Delbert Hubbs ’75, when they were undergraduates at UC Davis. She majored in consumer food science, and he studied renewable natural resources.

Linda Hubbs said she chose Davis because it offered a rural, small town feel with the university experience she was searching for. Delbert Hubbs, on the other hand, grew up in a small town in Shasta County known for its picturesque vistas. He chose Davis because it was the closest thing to “the big city.”

“We always laughed about that,” she said.

Hubbs also earned her teaching credential in home economics at Davis and later obtained a master’s degree in vocational education from Virginia Polytechnic University.  After college, the couple settled in Lone Pine, a small town in the Eastern Sierra with a population of about 2,000 residents.

A lifelong educator, Hubbs taught at Lone Pine High School for over four decades. Working at a small school allowed her to teach nearly every subject except physical education, she said. That includes yearbook, driver’s education and other unique elective courses.

“The cool part about being in one place for so long is that I taught most of my students’ parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles,” she said. “Sometimes I look at my students and think, ‘You’re just like your mother’ or ‘Just like your father,’ — and I mean that in the best way.”

Although Hubbs retired from teaching in 2013, she continues to run the local preschool, as she has for the past 30 years, and often works as a substitute. She plans to fully retire this August and relocate to Carson City, Nevada, to be closer to her daughter and three grandchildren. She will make the four-hour move with her canine companion, Manny.

As the move will put her closer to UC Davis, she hopes to drive down and watch some women’s and men’s basketball games during the next season.

“I’m very proud of my university,” she said. “I had five wonderful years in Davis … and even though the campus has grown a lot, I think it has stayed true to the ‘University Farm’ identity. I look forward to being back on campus.”