College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

From the military to wine making

WSU alum Robb Zimmel works in a vineyard.
WSU alum Robb Zimmel works in a vineyard. Zimmel is a former U.S. Army Reserve medic.

For Nick French and Robb Zimmel, a career in wine science made sense following their military experiences.

For French, currently a junior majoring in viticulture, the decision to pursue a degree in the viticulture and enology field from WSU Tri-Cities came after serving five years with the United States Air Force. He spent three years on active duty stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, where he served as a crew chief on KC-135 Stratotankers and the other two years with the Washington State Air National Guard.

“While I was stationed in Kansas, I noticed that most of my favorite wines and wine selections were from this area, and, of course, California,” he said. “As a husband and father, I had to choose a degree that would be suitable to living near family in Washington.”

WSU viticulture and enology student, and Air Force veteran, Nick French
WSU viticulture and enology student, and Air Force veteran, Nick French

From the Air Force to viticulture

French said after hearing stories of the emerging wine industry in Washington and witnessing the construction of the Ste. Michelle Estates WSU Wine Science Center on the WSU Tri-Cities campus, it was a “no brainer” deciding to pursue a degree in viticulture and enology.

French enrolled as a student at WSU Tri-Cities a few years ago while keeping up with his former military life through involvement with the Veterans Office on campus. Now a junior, he serves as the vet corps navigator for the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs on campus while completing his degree. His courses and connections at WSU have led to a variety of experiences in viticulture, his primary interest.

“Last summer, I interned with the viticulture department at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and had a great experience,” he said. “I really enjoy being outdoors and working with the grape vines. Combining modern technology with pest and disease management has been really intriguing to me.”

“I had seen things that couldn’t be unseen. I had to have a career change.”

For Zimmel, who graduated from WSU Tri-Cities in 2014, the decision to pursue a career in winemaking came after he realized that, while he was grateful for his years in the U.S. Army Reserves, his job put too much stress and strain on him and his family.

For most of his career and through the present, Zimmel has served as a detachment sergeant for a small forward surgical team. Prior to this, he served as a line medic from 1991 to 1998, which gave him the foundation to serve as a paramedic as a civilian. He also served as a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson in South Carolina until he was called overseas to Afghanistan in 2006-2008, and then to Iraq in 2009-2010.

“It wasn’t until I was in Iraq that I called my wife on a satellite phone in a wind-torn tent and explained to her that I had seen things that couldn’t be unseen,” he said. “I knew I had to have a career change. I didn’t want to go back to the medical field.”

Zimmel’s wife suggested that he look into winemaking as a career, considering he has expressed an interest in doing before. Zimmel said he knew he didn’t have the resources to attend University of California Davis, which offered a comprehensive degree in viticulture and enology.

“Later, it was my wife that made the discovery that WSU had a program and a plan soon began to be made,” he said.

Zimmel began taking courses first at WSU Vancouver in viticulture and enology, before transferring to WSU Tri-Cities to complete his full degree in 2014. He was in one of the first “Blended Learning” classes, which made a complete batch of wine from vine to bottle.

“When I started, I had no background in viticulture and enology,” he said. “I did, however, enjoy wine and always wanted to know more about it. I had the opportunity to travel a lot with the military and I fell in love with the Riesling in Germany, Sauv blancs in New Zealand. I’ve had horrible reds from the eastern block of Russia and incredible wines from the northern part of Italy.”

Forever a veteran

Even though both Zimmel and French are pursuing new passions after military careers, they said they will always cherish their time in the military and they even use their experiences as they can be applied to careers in viticulture and enology.

Zimmel has since started his own wine label, “Cerebella” under his winery name “Zimmel Unruh Cellars,” which released in summer 2015. In doing so, he said he’s using many traits and lessons from his career in the military.

Those include the fact that he knows he’s not the smartest person in the room, that burning bridges wastes time and energy, and that he can work with strangers to accomplish goals.

French said he respects and values his time in the military and continues using the skills he developed, such as leadership, work ethic and persistence, as he pursues his degree and moves into his future in viticulture.

Read more about Robb Zimmel here.

 

CAHNRS is more than agriculture. With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, we are one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU. CAHNRS Cougs are making a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, improving ecological and economic systems, and advancing agricultural sciences.

Featured Event

Illustration of a woman holding wine near a music band. Text over the image reads: The Auction of Washington Wines Wine and Music Festival, WSU Tri-Cities Campus, June 10, Saturday 6 pm. Learn More. Support Wine.

FACTS

Diversity

With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, CAHNRS is one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU.

Scholarships

CAHNRS students are awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships annually.

Discovery

CAHNRS leads in discovery through its high-quality research programs. In 2014, CAHNRS received research funding exceeding $81.5M. This accounts for nearly 40% of all research funding received by WSU.  

Opportunity

CAHNRS has 39 student clubs and organizations to enhance student experiences and opportunities.

Job Opportunities


4-H Youth Development Program Associate Director (pdf)
Position # 124955



CAHNRS Academic Programs

Fall undergradsUndergraduate Studies

Check out what our academic departments and programs have to offer, from Interior Design to Agriculture to Wildlife Ecology. We have 13 departments and schools to prepare you for your chosen career.

Grad student dogGraduate Studies

Students have a variety of options to pursue masters and doctoral degrees. Many of these have very specific background requirements, so we suggest exploring the individual programs for academic guidelines.

CTLLCenter for
Transformational
Learning & Leadership

The CTLL is a student, faculty, alumni and industry partner collaboration for high quality learning and leadership beyond the classroom.

 

Inspiring Teamwork - Arron Carter pic

Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

It started with a car, a ’69 Corvette Stingray to be exact.

When Arron Carter, the director of the Washington State University Winter Wheat Breeding Program, was in high school his agricultural teacher had a ’69 Corvette Stingray. Every year this teacher would let his favorite senior take the car to senior prom. Carter had never taken an agriculture class before, but he knew he wanted to drive that car.

“Well, if I’m going to be the favorite senior,” Carter said to himself, “I’d better start taking some ag classes.”…

Read More: Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

 










CAHNRS Office of Research

Agricultural Research Center

Mission Statement

The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

Research Update

Washington State University’s screening continues to find no evidence of glyphosate herbicide resistance in Pacific Northwest wheat varieties

In each of the last three years (2014, 2015 and 2016), the field screening process has involved over 80 varieties, 2,000 advanced breeding lines and more than 35,000 individual plots from WSU cereal breeding and variety evaluation programs. Collectively, varieties included in these trials represent over 95 percent of the wheat acreage planted in Washington.

Featured Research

Want fries with that? Stealth potato virus threatens industry

Newly emerged viruses threaten the U.S. potato industry, including potatoes grown in Washington. Several newly evolved strains of the disease known as potato virus Y, or PVY, can render potatoes unmarketable and reduce crop yield. What’s worse is the new viruses are particularly difficult to detect with the naked eye.

Horned larks undeterred by efforts to protect canola seedlings

Horned larks are turning up in droves near Lind, Wash. and decimating newly planted winter and spring canola fields despite multiple efforts to deter them.

In search of the perfect steak

Imagine taking your first bite of a $40 rib-eye steak—only to chew on beef that’s as tough as shoe leather. Talk about disappointment! “A tough steak is not a pleasant experience,” says Frank Hendrix, a WSU Extension Educator and animal scientist.

Workshops to discuss changing water forecast for Columbia Basin

How changing water availability in the Columbia River Basin could affect people, farms and fish is the focus of a series of free public workshops in June. Scheduled for June 21, 22 and 23 in Richland, Wenatchee and Spokane, the workshops give a first look at the 2016 Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast.

After landslide, communities rewarded for resilience

Two years after the deadly landslide that devastated the Oso, Wash., area, the towns of Darrington and Arlington were announced April 27 as finalists in the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition.

$11M funds food safety tech transfer to markets

WSU aims to meet growing demand for safe, high quality, additive-free packaged foods thanks to two recent investments in innovative food processing technology based on microwave energy.




Alumni & Friends

Welcome to alumni, friends, and supporters of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). You are a core part of our CAHNRS Coug family and have made major impacts in our college, communities, and throughout the world. We recognize only a handful of them here.

More than 9,000 alumni and friends contributed to our Campaign for WSU, the most ambitious fundraising effort in university history. The campaign concluded in 2015 with $215 million and endless amounts of impact. Here is a glimpse of what transpired in the Campaign.

Although the campaign concluded, momentum continues to make a difference in our land-grant mission and education. On-going investment in time and resources from our alumni and friends helps to advance our best programs, attract the most talented faculty, and support our brightest students.

There are so many ways to stay involved with CAHNRS. Share your news in the college’s magazine ReConnect. Get involved with student success or support our college as whole by making a gift to the CAHNRS Excellence Fund.

 

Contact Us

CAHNRS Alumni & Development
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243
alumni.friends@wsu.edu







Faculty & Staff

Important Dates and Deadlines

 

A-Z Index of Faculty and Staff Resources:

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Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
cahnrs.deans@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

Lisa Johnson:
Assistant to the Dean
Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
janowski@wsu.edu
509-335-3590







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