Solano County 4-H Members Go fo the Gold

4-H’ers Present Demonstrations, Educational Displays, Illustrated Talks, and Other Ideas

By Kathy Keatley Garvey, UCANR Communication Specialist

Seventeen Solano County 4-H members won gold awards at Solano County 4-H Presentation Day, and the Heritage 4-H Club of Vacaville won the plaque for the greatest member participation. In front (from left) are gold winner Darren Stephens, Sherwood Forest 4-H, Vallejo; William Parks, president of the Heritage 4-H Club (the club received the participation award for the greatest number of members presenting); and gold winners Daniel Taliaferro, Beau Westad, Grace Kimble and Irma Brown, all Suisun Valley 4-H. In back (from left) are gold winners Julietta Wynholds, Sherwood Forest 4-H; Zoe Sloan, Elmira 4-H; Braddison Beathem and Madisyn McCrary, both Tremont 4-H, Dixon; Miriam Laffitte, Vaca Valley 4-H; Celeste Harrison and Hannah Stephens, both Sherwood Forest 4-H; Jessica Carpenter, Pleasants Valley 4-H, Vacaville; and Alexis Taliaferro, Suisun Valley 4-H. Not pictured are gold winners Kailey Mauldin and Alissa Mauldin, both Elmira 4-H, and James George, Suisun Valley 4-H. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Solano County 4-H’ers Go for the Gold

They presented everything from “How to Take a Perfect Picture” to “The Secret Life of Bees” to “Anything is Pawsible: How I Trained My Doberman pinscher.”

When it was all over, 17 4-H’ers, including seven from the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, won gold medal showmanship awards at the annual Solano County 4-H Presentation Day, held recently at the Sierra Vista K-8 School in Vacaville.

The presentations included demonstrations, educational displays, illustrated talks, an interpretative reading, and a cultural arts offering.

Beau Westad of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club explains his project, “Reeling in Channel Catfish” at the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day. He won a gold award and is now eligible to compete in an area presentation.

The 4-H’ers followed a four-pronged process involving research, organization, graphics, and sharing of knowledge, said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H program representative. Adult evaluators, all involved with the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, asked the youths questions and scored them on their knowledge and presentation.

Twenty-six 4-H’ers, representing eight of the county’s 11 clubs, participated.

In the junior educational display talk category, ages 9 to 10, the gold winners, all from the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, were Grace Kemble, “How to Take a Perfect Picture”; Daniel Taliaferro, “Perfect Pizza Pans”; and Beau Westad, “Reeling in Channel Catfish.”

In the intermediate educational display talk category, ages 11 to 13, evaluators selected six  gold winners: James George of the Suisun Valley 4-H, “Event Planning”; Celeste Harrison of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, “Anything Is Pawsible: How I Trained My Doberman Pinscher”; Irma Brown, Suisun Valley 4-H, “Elements of a Movie”; Madisyn McCrary of Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, “How to Shoe a Horse”; Alissa Mauldin, Elmira 4-H, for “This Little Piggy Has…” and Darren Stephens, Sherwood Forest 4-H, “Can Chickens Get Maggots?”

In the senior educational display talk category, ages 14 to 19, three took home the gold: Hanna Stephens, Sherwood Forest 4-H, “Living Life as a Guide Dog Puppy”; Jessica Carpenter, Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, “How to Trim Goats and Sheep Hooves” and Alexis Taliaferro, Suisun Valley 4-H, “College Tours: A Glimpse Into the Future.”

Grace Kemble of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club explains how to “take a perfect picture.” She handcrafted her display and won a gold award for her work and presentation at the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day.

In the intermediate illustrated talk category, ages 11 to 13, gold awards went to Julietta Wynholds, Sherwood Forest 4-H, for “The Basics of Animation”; and Braddison Beathem, Tremont 4-H, “Let’s Talk Tack: How to Tack a Horse in English Tack.”

Senior demonstration, ages 14 to 18: Zoe Sloan of Elmira 4-H, for “Bomb Voyage.”

Senior/Interpretative Reading, ages 14 to 19: Kailey Mauldin, Elmira 4-H, “The Secret Life of Bees” by author Sue Monk Kidd.

Intermediate Culture Arts, ages 11 to 13: Miriam Lafitte, Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, “Total Improv.”

The winners are now eligible to compete in an Area 4-H Presentation Day, a qualifying event for the California State 4-H Field Day. Area Presentation Days will take place in Antioch, Jackson, and California Polytechnic Institute (Cal Poly), all on March 23. Other Area Presentation Days will be held in Siskiyou County on April 6, in Mariposa County on April 14; in Walnut on May 4; and in Tehama County on May 11.

Solano County 4-H Ambassador Natalie Greene of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club served as the emcee.

The newly formed and soon-to-be-chartered Heritage 4-H Club of Vacaville won the participation award for having the greatest percentage of participants. The club is affiliated with the Heritage Christian Academy, Vacaville.

Celeste Harrison of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, talks about how she trained her Doberman pinscher during the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day. Evaluators (back to camera) are Helen Ritchey and Dan Turner.

Six 4-H’ers participated in the primary educational display talks category, ages 5 to 8. The primary group is not evaluated. Receiving participation certificates in that category were four Heritage Club members: Dale Harder, “The Perfect Picnic,” Sunny Harder, “Camping”; Christopher Parks, “Model Trains”; and William Parks, “Dog Man: My Favorite Book and How to Draw the Characters.” Certificates also went to Nevaeh Tiernan-Lang of Elmira 4-H, “How to Build a Christmas Tree” and Alia Wynholds of Sherwood Forest 4-H,“On the Trail.”

Receiving participant certificates in the junior educational display talk category, ages 9 to 10, were Addelyn Widmer of Suisun Valley 4-H, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears of Photography”; and Jonny Tiernan-Lang, Elmira 4-H, for “AKC Toy Breeds.”

In the intermediate educational display talk, ages 11 to 13, Heath Moritz of the Westwind 4-H Club, Fairfield-Suisun, received a participation certificate for “Watch Me Now.”

During the Presentation Day, attendees also had the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities, including designing and launching a paper rocket through the STEM activity; making slime at the Slime Station; and learning how to sew a blanket, “Cuddle Me Close,” for hospital patients.

Solano County has 11 4-H clubs, with a total membership of 400

Vacaville: Vaca Valley, Pleasants Valley, Elmira and Heritage
Fairfield-Suisun: Suisun Valley and Westwind
Dixon: Maine Prairie, Tremont, and Dixon Ridge
Rio Vista: Rio Vista 4-H
Vallejo: Sherwood Forest

The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program, follows the motto, “Making the Best Better.” 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health, and hands, is open to youths ages 5 to 19.  In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools. For more information, contact Valerie Williams at

2021-05-12T11:05:05-07:00March 13th, 2019|

Eighteen New California Farm Academy Graduates!

Eighteen New Farmers Graduate from California Farm Academy


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director


The California Farm Academy, a part-time, seven-month, beginning farmer training program run by the Land-Based Learning, graduated 18 new farmers on Sunday, September 18, 2016.


With more than 250 hours of classroom and field training behind them, these enterprising graduates were honored by notables such as Karen Ross, secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); Craig McNamara, president and owner of Sierra Orchards, as well as president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture; Sri Sethuratnam, director, California Farm Academy (CFA); and Mary Kimball, executive director, Center for Land-Based Learning, based in Winters California.

new farmers graduate from California Farm Academy beginning farmer training program run by the Land-Based Learning.

Eighteen new farmers graduated from California Farm Academy’s beginning farmer training program run by the Center for Land-Based Learning.


“The impetus of our program,” said Christine McMorrow, director of development for Land-Based Learning, “is the need for more farmers as the current ones age out. According to the USDA, over 700,000 new farmers will be needed in the next 20 years to replace those who retire.


CFA teachers, farmers, academic faculty and staff, and agricultural, natural resource and business professionals, teach CFA students basic production agricultural practices; crop planning; soil science; pest management; organic agriculture; irrigation and water management; marketing; ecology and conservation; obtaining loans, insurance and permits; farm financials; human resource management; risk management; farm safety; regulatory compliance and problem-solving.


McMorrow stated, “These folks have been with us since February, following a rigorous application process. A lot of these folks either have land they have dreamed of farming but did not know how to put it into production. Some of them come from farming families, but they wanted to get involved in the family business on their own. They may have been in a different career and now want to do something new or different. Perhaps they haven’t studied agriculture or they have not seen much agriculture other than what their family does, so this is an opportunity for them to learn and to explore a new business idea.


“We only take people who are serious about production agriculture. This is not a program for somebody who thinks, ‘I’ve got an acre in my backyard and I really want to grow something.’ While that’s a cool thing to do, the academy is not for those people.”


“Our graduating farmers, who range in age from their late 20s to early 50s, each wrote a business plan and presented it to folks within the agriculture industry,” said McMorrow. “They also planted some of their own crops on a farm in Winters.


McMorrow elaborated, “These new farmers have been able to create their own networks, having made contact with more than 40 different folks within the agricultural industry throughout the time they spent with us. These networks include local farmers around Yolo County, Solano County, Sacramento County, and other regions, and will help our graduates realize their dreams.”


California Farm Academy (CFA) We grow farmers

“This is the fifth class that has graduated,” explained McMorrow, “and mind you, these folks are doing lots of different things. Some of them already have their own land, some are going to work for someone who has land, some will work other farmers, and some will go into a food-related business.”


“Still others will stay and lease small plots of land from us,” McMorrow commented, “to start their own farming business. Beginning farmers face huge barriers to getting started, the biggest of which is access to land, capital and infrastructure. So, to get their farming businesses started, California Farm Academy alumni are eligible to lease land at sites in West Sacramento, Davis and Winters at a very low cost.”

The Center for Land-Based Learning exists to cultivate opportunity.

For the land.

For youth.

For the environment.

For business.

For the economy.

For the future of agriculture.
2021-05-12T11:00:49-07:00September 19th, 2016|

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.”

2016-05-31T19:28:09-07:00July 28th, 2015|
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