Westands Water District Scholarships

Westands Water District Awards Agricultural Scholarships

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Gayle Holman
Gayle Holman, Westlands Water District

As part of their educational outreach to the community to raise awareness about agricultural issues and to reward exceptional academic achievement and leadership, the Westlands Water District awarded six scholarships to local high school graduates who are on their way to college. Gayle Holman, public affairs representative for the district, offered some insight about the scholarship application process.

“We go out to each of the six area high schools each year,” said Holman. “We provide them with information, the application, and instructions, and they provide us with an essay on an agricultural-related topic, letters of reference and their transcripts by our deadline. We work with the guidance counselors at each of the schools to make sure those materials are received,” she added.

“A scholarship review committee goes through the applications and selects one person per school based on their academic performance, school activities and community leadership,” Holman said. “Each award recipient is an incredibly highly motivated student, who, we are hopeful, will take that education, bring it back, and apply it to their community in the future,” she said.

Tom Birmingham, general manager of the Westlands Water District noted, “Westlands is honored to provide this assistance for these outstanding student leaders. These scholarships represent a small gesture of thanks and support to the communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that make our region such a productive and vibrant place.”

Holman continued, “Each scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 to be used for community college or university expenses. In addition, many local elected offices will send them congratulatory letters, or certificates. This really emphasizes to the students how important their academic endeavors are.” 

The 2016 scholarship recipients are:
 
Kristina Raulino, a Lemoore High School graduating honors student who plans to attend West Hills Community College to pursue a degree in Psychology,  has been actively involved in tennis and the Future Farmers of America and has served as the Club Secretary for the California Scholarship Federation.
Jonathan Sanchez, a Riverdale High School graduate who will attend California Polytechnic State University to pursue a degree in Agricultural Engineering, has received awards for honor roll and student of the month, and is heavily involved in soccer, cross country, baseball and football. Additionally, he is a member of the California Scholarship Federation and AVID.
Delaney Walker, a graduating senior from Coalinga High School, will attend University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a degree in Education/English. She has been actively involved in basketball and tennis and received awards for honor roll and mock trial. She is also a member of the California Scholarship Federation.
Jonathan Guzman, a graduate of Tranquillity High School, plans to attend the University of California, Irvine to pursue a degree in Business and Finance. He is an honors student actively involved in football and basketball and has received awards for bi-literacy and the Principal’s Honor Roll for all four high school years.
Savannah Rodriguez, a graduating honors student at Mendota High School, plans to attend University of California, Santa Cruz to pursue a degree in Feminist Studies. She has been involved in softball and badminton and received awards for perfect attendance, leadership and MESA.
Fatima Gamino, a Firebaugh High School graduate, will attend University of California, Merced to pursue a degree in Chemical Sciences. She has received several awards including Senior of the Month, Top Academic Athlete and Superintendent’s List. Additionally, she has been involved in the Spanish Club, cross country and Academic Decathlon.
 

FFA Members are #FFAProud

FFA Members are #FFAProud

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

Thousands of National FFA Organization (FFA) members have taken to social media to support a growing campaign known as #FFAProud. Sydnie Sousa, the 2015-2016 California FFA state vice president, said the #FFAProud movement stems from the pride its members feel at being a part of an organization that builds leadership skills and more.

“#FFAProud started,“ Sousa said, “because we want to be clear what we do in agriculture and what FFA was founded upon: premiere leadership, personal growth and career success. Students achieve all this by working with animals and caring for those animals properly.”

Sousa said students are proud to advocate because, “We work hard and diligently within this organization to make sure it is being showcased correctly from all different stages. We are in this organization developing leaders to educate people on the accurate story of agriculture. We truly are proud of the truth behind agriculture and the FFA,” Sousa said.

Sousa said the clear and confident response of FFA members to questions about agriculture and its practices demonstrates that FFA is strong. “It’s the core of our foundation; students rise to meet these challenges within agriculture,” Sousa said. “We are proud to share our stories and to be a part of this organization.”

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The National FFA Organization website reports the letters “FFA” stand for Future Farmers of America. These letters are a part of our history and our heritage that will never change. But FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers; FFA also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more. For this reason, the name of the organization was updated in 1988 after a vote of national convention delegates to reflect the growing diversity and new opportunities in the industry of agriculture.

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Photo Source: Twitter

Westlands Water District Announces Westside Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to the Westlands Water District Westside Scholarship Recipients!

Six outstanding high school seniors from communities on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley have been selected to receive scholarships offered by the Westlands Water District. The 2015 scholarships are offered by Westlands under a program to recognize and reward exceptional academic achievement and leadership by graduate seniors at area high schools.

The recipients of the 2015 scholarships are:

Aneet Hundal, a senior at Coalinga High School. Ms. Hundal is an honors student who plans on attending the University of California, Irvine to pursue a degree in nursing. She was actively involved in the Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial, Link Crew, California Scholarship Federation and tennis and basketball. Additionally, she has received a number of awards including the Superintendent’s Honor Roll, Lab Biology II Star of the Month and Wendy’s High School Heisman.

Phillip Augusto, a senior at Lemoore High School. Mr. Augusto plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in BioResource and Agricultural Engineering. He is an honors student who has received awards from the Future Farmers of America – Scholar Awards, State Degree, Chapter Degree and Greenhand Degree. Additionally, he has been a Robotics Team finalist at West Hills Collect Vex Robotics Competition and Student of the Month for the Lemoore High School Math Department.

Emily Parra, a senior at Tranquillity High School. Ms. Parra plans to attend Stanford University to pursue a degree in Economics/Education. She is an honors student who has been the president of the California Scholarship Federation, Associated Student Body Secretary and World Travel Club Vice President, Mathematician of the Year and Student of the Month.

Jackelyn Sanchez, a senior at Riverdale High School. Ms. Sanchez plans to attend University of California, San Diego to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She is an honors student who has competed in Academic Decathlon, is an AVID 8th Grade Tutor, Student of the Month, Science Olympiad Competitor, and won an End of the Year Award for maintaining a GPA above 4.0 throughout her high school career.

Gaston Ruben Aganza, a senior at Mendota High School. Mr. Aganza plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in Engineering. He has held leadership positions in chess and Upward Bound and has participated in AVID, Young Legislators Program, Lend-A-Hand and MESA. Additionally, he was a cross-country runner.

Teddi Diedrich, a senior at Firebaugh High School. Ms. Diedrich plans to attend Menlo College to pursue a degree in agricultural business. She has received several awards in AVID (Student of the Year), Future Farmers of America Greenhand Degree, Honor Roll, Athlete Scholar, the Superintendent’s List and State Future Farmers of America and has also played softball and volleyball.

Each scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 to be used for community college or university expenses. Applicants were judged on their academic performance, school activities and community leadership. Each applicant submitted an essay on an agricultural-related topic.

“Westlands is honored to provide this assistance for these outstanding student leaders,” said Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands. “These scholarships represent a small gesture of thanks and support to the communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that make our region such a productive and vibrant place.”

Ag Students Rally to Try to Preserve Education Grants

Source: California Farm Bureau Federation 

Concerns about future funding for high school agricultural classes and leadership programs are being voiced throughout California—and nowhere louder than at the state Capitol, where thousands of students and members of Future Farmers of America rallied last week to try to prevent elimination of the state’s $4.1 million Agricultural Education Incentive Grant program.

“It was gratifying to see the number of legislators who came out to support the students at the Capitol rally,” said Jim Aschwanden, executive director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, who estimated participation at more than 2,000 students.

“They were met with great bipartisan support from both houses,” Aschwanden said. “The kids who came to the Capitol were well prepared to discuss the programs and funding issues, and did a great job of visiting offices.”

Program funding was included in the 2013-14 budget because legislators pressured the administration to preserve it, but the administration suggested the grant program could be scrapped this year.

Agricultural educators across the state currently use the grants to support career-based education that combines FFA leadership and personal development programs with classroom and vocational instruction, he said. The programs develop young leaders who go on to attend post-secondary colleges and career technical education programs at higher rates than their peers, Aschwanden said.

Enrollment in agriculture classes offered at 315 high schools statewide has steadily climbed during the past decade, educators said. Today, about 78,000 California high school students take agriculture-related classes, with strong program growth at urban high schools as well as those in rural communities.

“As teachers, parents, community members and taxpayers, we’re angry,” said Dave Gossman, who heads the agriculture department at Atwater High School. “The decision to eliminate the ag grant program is perplexing because it impacts an education program that has a direct benefit on the lives of our kids and the state’s future.”

Without the grant funding, California’s agricultural programs could be terminated, vocational education experts said.

“Instead of eliminating California’s proven FFA program, why not secure funding and build on the programs to offer more students the opportunity for success?” Gossman said.

“Virtually every region in our state has an FFA program,” Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, said in a letter to legislative leaders, which was signed by nearly 100 members of the Legislature and also noted the rising enrollment in agricultural classes.

The classes include agriscience, mechanics, ornamental horticulture, animal science, agriculture business, plant and soil science, forestry and natural resources.

Andrea Fox, legislative policy analyst for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said Farm Bureau has been “actively involved in ensuring that funding will remain available for the agricultural grant program.” She noted that a Farm Team alert from CFBF generated nearly 400 letters to the governor and legislators in support of the program.

Aschwanden said the next steps in the state budget process will include legislative committee hearings.

“We’re anxious to see what the May (budget) revise looks like in terms of overall funding for education,” he said. “We’re hearing there may be additional funds available for education, which will make these proposed cuts to ag education even more disturbing.”

He said agricultural educators have asked people to contact legislators, “particularly those from urban areas.”

Leaders of “Save FFA.com,” a grassroots group affiliated with the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, encourage parents and community leaders to write letters to the governor and members of the Legislature. More information on the effort to ensure funding for agricultural education is online at www.saveffa.com.