Faces: Eric Soto title

Eric Giovanni Soto | Crop & Soil Science with Agronomy option

The Dalles Oregon | First-generation college student

Men's Soccer Club Goalkeeper | Class of 2022

MANRRS Chapter President and Community Representative Officer

 

A Life of Ag

Being a first-generation college student, my path at Oregon State University all started three and a half years ago. I was born and raised in The Dalles Oregon on a 150-acre orchard of cherry production. I have worked and been involved in agriculture ever since I can remember. That is why, going into college, I knew I wanted to study something related to agriculture. I am now a senior majoring in Crop & Soil Science with an option in Agronomy. When I'm not hitting the books for school, I spend most of my time playing soccer with friends. I've also been part of the Men's Soccer Club here at OSU for three years now where I play as a goalkeeper. I also enjoy outdoor activities such as going on hikes with my dog or going out fishing. I’m very passionate about the future and getting to where I want to be someday. I'll say, it is what truly gets me up every day.

Finding my Voice

Going into agriculture, we don’t see many Hispanics, not only in my classes but also at the higher ends (positions) within the agricultural industry. I would be the quiet one because I was different from my work colleagues and classmates. It was hard to relate myself to classmates within the College of AgSci. I even got to a point where I would ask myself if I truly belong and wanted to continue in the College of AgSci. Many of my Hispanic friends were studying engineering. As I became involved in leadership and empowering myself, my difference became a motivation for me. Being one of the very few Hispanic men in my classes and career, I wanted to be the best at what I did. Why not even serve as a motivation for incoming students like myself in the College of AgSci, so they can find a voice, in which I once struggled to find, and feel like they are not alone. This was a major shift of perspective in my life that has gotten me to where I am today.

Community and Leadership

A program that has influenced me the most within the College of Agricultural Sciences is the Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program. I first got involved in MANRRS my sophomore year where I served as a community representative officer, and I now currently serve as the chapter president. MANRRS has truly created that ‘before and after’ within my time here at OSU. It helped me get involved in leadership, not only with the College of AgSci and OSU, but also around my community. As the chapter president, I have had the opportunity to network with big employers such as John Deere and Nutrien Ag Solutions. As chapter president, I have had the opportunity to network with other students just like myself in different universities around the U.S.

Scouting the Industry

My journey within OSU and my field of study have taken me into multiple opportunities, and one of those was interning for Sodbuster Farms Inc. Throughout my internship, I developed a lot of new techniques and skills. Scouting on the field also taught me some techniques on how to properly identify certain diseases such as verticillium wilt and powdery mildew. There are certain symptoms in the plant that will display in which you can make a very well-educated guess. This experience only made me find a bigger passion in agronomy and really enjoy and find a passion within the hop industry. My confidence level within the industry truly increased. I got positive feedback from agronomists and crop advisors from Wilbur-Ellis and Nutrien Ag when my supervisor would take me along to lunch with them. I also saw a big growth within myself during this internship in which I was not afraid of taking on challenges. I worked hard to make a name out of myself and I want to believe that I was successful in doing so. I was offered to stay and keep working for Sodbuster Farms after my internship was over.

An Agronomy Future

In five years, I see myself being a crop advisor and doing agronomy with different crops around wherever that I may be. I do see myself staying and working around the Willamette Valley, but I’m not closed off to going out of state and pursuing my goals and dreams. I also see myself being involved in the industry that collaborates with others to bring awareness to minorities of the opportunities that are available in a variety of fields within agriculture and higher ends of the industry. Just being part of AgSci here at OSU is already helping me on track to where I would like to be in the future.

It's Never Too Early

The advice I would give students entering their professional lives is to not be afraid of putting themselves out there and making a name for themselves. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. Something that I wish someone would have told me before starting my career was that it is never too early to start networking with employers and internships, especially top companies. I know if I were to have started earlier, I would have maybe not have had to work as hard to get to my career goals.

Neither First nor Last

Growing up in the agricultural industry, I was told to work hard, and if my hands weren't dirty by the end of the day, it meant I didn’t work hard enough. As I grew up and got more involved in the industry, I started to see a pattern. Not many Hispanics were involved or seen in the higher ends of the industry. Going into college, I would have never imagined being where I'm at today and making it this far, yet I’m far from where I want to be and still have a lot to learn in the process. As we continue to go on the pathway which others have created, let's not forget about the ones that are seeking the same opportunity which we all sought one day. We may not be the first ones, but we will not be the last. As we create our own stories and paths, don’t forget to bring others along with the success.