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Chico State

Introducing Peyton Arnold: 2023 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipient

Peyton Arnold poses in a black suit
(Jason Halley/University Photogr

Peyton Arnold, one of the 2022-2023 recipients of the Lieutenant Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award, is photographed on Friday, January 20, 2023 in Chico, Calif. Each year, faculty members nominate students based on their scholarship, involvement in extracurricular activities, and outstanding accomplishments. Nominations are based on these standards, along with evidence of students’ sincere intent to complete their education, increase their personal knowledge, and to achieve success in every aspect of their lives. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/Chico State)

In the coming weeks, we will be celebrating the accomplishments and stories behind this year’s Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipients. The award—one of the largest and most prestigious at Chico State—celebrates scholarship, extracurricular activities, and outstanding academic, and professional accomplishments.

Peyton Arnold can tell you if your cow has wandered into an onion patch. She’s raised four pigs in her backyard. She’s the vice president of the Chico State Sheep Association. Despite all this, the chicken comes first—poultry is her true passion.

A senior on track to graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in animal science, Arnold is planning to pursue a master’s degree in poultry studies.

“For some reason, I’m just kind of a poultry nerd,” Arnold said. “It’s just something I really enjoy. I find the entire process to be so cool.”

She had to give up her flock to come to college but she’s found plenty of other arenas to pique her interest since transferring from Modesto Junior College. During her two years at Chico State, her professors say Arnold’s pursuit of experiences outside of the classroom has helped make her an exceptional student.

“Peyton seeks opportunities to learn because she has a passion for the subject,” said Professor Celina Phillips. “She is going to be a leader in agriculture in the future.”

Arnold and a fellow student recently studied the impacts of feeding cover crops to livestock and presented their findings at the California Plant and Soil Conference. As vice president of the Chico State Sheep Association, Arnold has helped set up farm and facility tours and brought in guest speakers to help students learn more about the industry. And she recently wrapped up a research project in plant science studying the effects of cover crop residue on succeeding cash crops.

What does this scholarship mean to you?

I was shocked when I got it because my professors were telling me it was a big deal. It meant a lot because my parents have been helping me pay for my tuition, and this will let me pay them back. I called my mom right away, and she was proud and really excited about it.

Is there a memory, place, or faculty member at Chico State that has been especially impactful to you?

Logan Smith’s teaching is so great, and I was really honored when he reached out to me and told me he wanted me to apply for this. And Celina Phillips has really guided me and checked up on me. And then Dr. Z. (Professor Hossein Zakeri) has basically been my advisor. He’s the one who came to me wanting to do the research, and that really felt like a big moment for me. I was just going to go to classes and do my thing, but he reached out to me, and it was a big confidence boost that he saw my potential. That confidence has allowed me to do things I never thought I would. Those three have taught me that lab work is important. It’s not just the classroom—it’s getting out there and presenting and getting your ideas out there.

Why did you choose Chico State?

I came up here for FFA (Future Farmers of America) in high school and the campus drew me in, especially all the brick and being downtown, too. I just really liked the atmosphere and natural beauty, and it was a good school. I had some family that came here, too, and I’d just heard good things.