Ag Major Scholarships


It Pays to be an Ag Major: Friends of Dixon May Fair Awards $12,500 in Scholarships

Seven Solano County residents majoring in agriculture will receive some financial relief when they head for their college campuses this fall, thanks to a combined total of $12,500 awarded them in college scholarships from the Friends of the Dixon May Fair.

Dixon Winners

Olivia Ramirez of Dixon is the 2015 recipient of the Ester Armstrong Memorial Scholarship from Friends of the Dixon May Fair. With her are Donnie Huffman (far left) of Vacaville, president of the Friends; Tom Armstrong of Rocklin, husband of the late Ester Armstrong, former interim chief administrative officer of the Dixon May Fair; and JoAnn Giannoni of Dixon, scholarship chair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)It Pays to be an Ag Major: Friends of Dixon May Fair Awards $12,500 in Scholarships

The seven include four from Dixon; two from Vacaville, and one from Rio Vista. Most are current or former members of the 4-H youth development program. Over the last 15 years, the Friends of the Dixon May Fair, headed by Donnie Huffman of Vacaville, has awarded a total of $154,500 in college scholarships to Solano students majoring in an agricultural-related field in a California university or community college.

Olivia Ramirez of Dixon, a 2015 graduate of Dixon High School headed for California State University, Chico, received the Ester Armstrong Memorial Scholarship of $3000. Her career goal is to become a veterinarian. The award memorializes fair industry veteran Ester Armstrong of Rockville, a former director of the California Division of Fairs and Expositions who served as interim chief executive officer of the Dixon May Fair from 2006-2009. She died in May 2009 of cancer.

Jordan Dosker

Jordan Dosker of Vacaville received a $2000 scholarship from the Friend of the Dixon May Fair.

Jordan Dosker of Vacaville, a third-year student at California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, received $2000. A 2012 graduate of Vacaville High School, she plans to become a veterinarian. This is the third year she has received a Friends of the Dixon May Fair award.

Marla Kogler of Rio Vista, a third-year student at California State University, Chico, received a $2000 scholarship.  A 2013 graduate of Rio Vista High School, she plans to become an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. This is the third year she has received a Friends’ scholarship.

Jillian Raycraft, of Dixon, a 2015 graduate of Dixon High School, received a $2000 scholarship. She will attend Cal Poly, majoring in ag business.

Lyle Glass of Vacaville, a 2015 graduate of Vacaville High School, received the $1500 Jack Hopkins Scholarship award, memorializing  a longtime Dixon resident and supporter of the Dixon May Fair. Glass will attend Woodland Community College and plans to pursue a degree in agribusiness management.

Kyle Garlick of Dixon, a second-year student at Butte Community College, received a $1000 award. A 2012 graduate of Dixon High School, he is pursuing a career in agribusiness management. This is the second year he has received a scholarship.

Nicole Talken of Dixon, a 2015 graduate of Dixon High School, received $2000. She is currently attending Sacramento City College with plans to transfer to UC Davis as a junior. She plans to become a veterinarian.

The Friends, an all-volunteer organization raises funds by selling beverages at the Dixon May Fair. They use the proceeds for building and grounds improvements on the fairgrounds, exhibitor and special event awards, and college scholarships.

Only Solano County residents planning a career in agriculture and accepted into a California college, are eligible to apply, said JoAnn Giannoni of Dixon, the scholarship chair. Applicants have graduated from a Solano County high school and must be enrolled in or accepted for enrollment in either a four-year or two-year college.  They must major in an agricultural-related field, which can encompass dozens of majors, including agricultural business, forestry, pomology, nematology, plant pathology, viticulture, wildlife and fisheries biology, and child, family and consumer science.

Recipients are selected on their personal, civic and academic experience, academic standing, personal commitment and goals, leadership potential, civic accomplishments, and agricultural interests. Desired but not mandatory is 4-H, FFA or Grange experience.

All applicants must submit a personal statement of no more than two typed pages, explaining “why they are pursuing their desired career and what they hope to accomplish,” Giannoni said.  The rules are at  Applications are generally due March 1.

The scholarship committee is comprised of Giannoni; Tootie Huffman, treasurer of the Friends; Vacaville veterinarian John Howard, who received his degree from UC Davis; and Kathy Keatley Garvey of Vacaville and Carrie Hamel of Dixon, both of UC Davis.

Capsule information on the recipients:

Olivia Ramirez was active in 4-H and FFA and also played basketball, water polo, volleyball, powderpuff football and softball in Dixon. “My plan is to go to Chico State for four years and get my bachelor of science degree in animal science, and then apply to the UC Davis Vet School to become a large animal veterinarian,” she said.  Ramirez said she intends to start a veterinary practice and also start a program that helps troubled youth of her community “learn the importance of farming, caring for animals.”  She remembers saving “every dollar from babysitting, allowance, birthday money, anything I could save” to buy a horse” when she was in middle school. She’s also raised swine and sheep and exhibited them at the Dixon May Fair.

Jordan Dosker says her ultimate goal is to become a veterinarian “and to work with either large or exotic animals.”  She didn’t grow up around animals but interned at the Sacramento Zoo. Dosker said she’d like to help people care for animals both in the United States and in third-world countries. “From Solano County to sub-Saharan Africa, I want to make an impact on people’s understanding of agriculture by taking my education on medicine and animal management and sharing it with numerous communities.”

Maria Kogler was active in the Rio Vista 4-H Club, showing market goats, and later joined the Rio Vista FFA. Both “created many opportunities for me to share my passion for agriculture with so many people,” she said. Her desire to teach is fueled by her passion for agriculture. “I want to create the same opportunities for future studenets that I was offered,” Kogler said.

Lyle Glass grew up on a 10-acre farm and continues to be active in 4-H. He served as a Solano County 4-H Ambassador, the highest 4-H rank in the county and then was named a California State Ambassador, the highest 4-H rank in the state. He seeks a career in agribusiness. “I love agriculture because of my extensive involvement in the industry,” eh said. “Also I enjoy working with people. I like to feel like I am a positive influence on people and can inspire greatness in them. I want to see people fulfill their full potential and I credit that to all the people who wanted to see me do the same.”

Of 4-H, Glass said it has morphed him into “who I am today, however, it was also the things I learned and achieved in the organization that helped make me who I am today. I was in an environment that helped me learn more about myself and what I love to do. I had a unique experience in my life that set me up for success.”

Kyle Garlick, a former 4-H’er, recalls his family moving to the country when he was in the second grade. “This was the beginning of my love for agriculture,” he said.  He credits Rhonda Rayn, a Dixon 4-H leader and former coordinator of the Dixon May Fair Junior Horse Show, with getting him involved in agriculture.  He later joined the Dixon FFA.  Garlick served as a foreign exchange student  in Argentina and attended a dairy school half of the day. “I had the opportunity to work in the dairy plant learning how to make yogurt, milk and cheese,”  he said. After graduating from Butte Community College, he plans to obtain his bachelor’s degree in ag business from Chico State and a “pursue a career with a company or agency specializing in agriculture.”

Nicole Talken, who plans to become a veterinarian, was active in both 4-H and FFA, and is presently involved in breeding and raising grand-champion rabbits. Her projects have included market goats, market lambs, market swine, dairy goats, horses, dogs, rabbits, poultry, photography, art work, taxidermy and ag mechanics. A second-year student at  Sacramento City College, she plans to transfer to UC Davis her junior year. She is majoring in animal science and management and minoring in animal nutrition and American sign language. Talken, a cancer survivor, was diagnosed with a rare cancer at age six. Her motto is “Never give up.” Said Talken: ‘Cancer opened my eyes to the world around me and I grew up wise beyond my years.:

Jillian Raycraft, raised in Dixon on a small farm, says that “agriculture has come to have most of my heart. She has fond memories of “sitting on my father’s lab, driving tractor and standing next to him trying to start an irrigation siphon with all my seven-year-old body’s might.” Raycraft was heavily involved in FFA and “raising animals and farming my own four acres of field corn and oat hay seasonally.” That further sparked her interest in pursing a career in agricultural business, which “permits me to combine the passion that I already encompass for agriculture with my willingness and dedication to further my knowledge and advocacy in this field.”  Already sparking much of her interest “are the ideas of seed distribution and agricultural lobbying.”