Merced County Farm Bureau has a proud history of giving back to our local communities through various donations, participation in local field days and scholarship programs. This year has been no different and our “Salute to Ag” is to focus on the deserving students and teachers that have worked hard to achieve successes in our agricultural community. 

Each year, Merced County Farm Bureau (MCFB) awards a host of scholarships to high school seniors who are continuing their education in an agriculturally-related field. This year, we were able to award 15 scholarships totaling $11,750. Two of these students are from Gustine FFA – seniors Aubrie Hazan and Madison Woods. Aubrie has been very active in various programs in the community and Gustine High School. She plans to attend Modesto Junior College and study animal science. Madison has also been active in the community and the California Junior Livestock Association. She plans to study agriculture business and attend Texas Tech University. 

Other students who received a MCFB scholarship are Michael Bray and Hayley Vargas of Atwater FFA, Haven Christy of Delhi FFA, Katherine Horal and Madilyn Slate of Golden Valley FFA, Isabel Patterson of Hilmar FFA, Gabrielle Mix of Le Grand FFA, Jennifer Guadalupe Garcia of Livingston FFA, Emmanuel Marquez Yanez and Megan Ebner of Los Banos FFA, Oscar Torres of Merced FFA, Joshua Simas of Pacheco FFA and Alyssa Vander Woude of Stone Ridge Christian FFA. 

Merced County Farm Bureau has long been the holders of funds generated for the Farm Workers Children’s Scholarship. The committee felt two students were deserving of this award. Andrea Esquivel of Stone Ridge High School and Kristopher Jimenez of Pacheco High School were each awarded $500 for their college endeavors. In addition, our Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) awarded two scholarships each totaling $250 to Paola Ramirez and Oscar Torres. Paola is attending Merced College and Oscar is an FFA student at Merced High School.

The Arthur R. Nutcher Scholarship rounds out the scholarships that were awarded this year. Selected by the Nutcher Family in remembrance of Art, four students were awarded a scholarship to continue their education. In total, the family awarded $6,000 at various levels to Michael Bray, Antonio Puente, Emmanuel Marquez Yanez and Andrea Esquivel. 

Merced County Farm Bureau unveiled a new program this year for teachers in grade levels TK-6 called Rooted in Agriculture. This program replaces our Teacher Appreciation Night that we held for approximately five years. Rooted in Agriculture allows teachers to document an agriculture lesson and submit it to our organization for a potential award. The program was established to reward teachers who have engaged their students in an agriculture activity. Teachers can use materials from Ag in the Classroom, California Milk Advisory Board, their school garden, etc. All we ask is that they document the lesson and turn it in for potential credit. 

The program is set to present one teacher a $500 award that they can use for school supplies, a field trip, etc. Our committee was so impressed with the applications that they awarded three $500 awards to teachers of R. M. Maino Elementary (Los Banos), Shaffer Elementary (Atwater) and Winton Elementary (Winton). Sergio De Alba of R. M. Maino provided students with a multi-faceted lesson plan of a family farm business where students learned to manage their money, the necessities of various crops such as citrus and table grapes and development of a business plan. 

Cristen Cornaggia of Shaffer Elementary focused on math and how it relates to a dairy operation. She was able to tie in calculation scenarios involving nutrition and vaccination needs. Kate Murphy of Winton Elementary School had students research robotics in agriculture. Students were asked to select a robotic component in farming, research the advances and then market it to their fellow students. 

We want to thank the students and teachers for applying as we appreciate their time and dedication to agriculture. If you have questions about the above or have an issue you’d like to discuss with our office, we always welcome the opportunity to engage the community. 

Breanne Ramos is the executive director of Merced County Farm Bureau, a non-profit, grassroots, non-governmental organization that advocates for farmers, ranchers and dairy families that live and/or work in Merced County. She can be reached at (209)723-3001 or by email at bramos@mercedfarmbureau.org.