Sunday , 26 May 2024

A message from the Madera County Farm Bureau President Laura Gutile 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! Apologies to Santa and the Elves, but I think  Springtime is the best time of the year. My pistachios start to wake up and push out in April. There is a warmth to the breeze and, even though I’m a sneezing and congested mess of allergies, it’s nice to breathe in the clean air.

April also brings the MCFB Scholarship applicants interviews. This is my favorite activity. Not long after being appointed to the Board, I was asked to be a Trustee for our Scholarship fund. There are five of us trustees and three of us volunteer each year to interview the applicants. The timing is awesome! Usually, California Farm Bureau’s Ag Day at the Capitol has happened and I’ve come back to share my experiences with the different politicians I met with. A lot of times I come home feeling a bit defeated and questioning my life choices. Then the Dropbox fills up with high school applicants looking for scholarships to further their life goals. Our guidelines for a scholarship are fairly simple. All but one category stipulates that the student major in something having to do with agriculture or agriculture adjacent career paths. These students are asked to write a short biography about themselves and their goals. Reading through these I’m filled with hope for our future. These students are so passionate and focused! I remember that, because they are out there wanting to further their education to keep agriculture alive, they need me to be here now to advocate for their future.

This year, we received 26 applications and we interviewed 22 students. Twenty-two!!!!! It’s the biggest “crop” of students that I have seen in my 8 years of doing this. I believe the lowest GPA is a 3.0. The intended majors range from meat inspection to embryology, mechanics to education and a lot in between. These students are bright, driven and excited for their futures. Over the course of 3 days, we interviewed them all. We ask questions about their experiences that lead them to their choice of major and what drives them to succeed. Their schedules are exhausting! Most are involved with extracurricular activities with FFA and 4-H being the most common. All share a goal of giving back to their communities. Some even work to help their families. I need a nap after talking to some of them!!

After 3 evenings of interviews we go back through the list and we each give a plus or minus. We create a list of those we all agree on and then talk through the others. I enjoy these discussions because we all bring a different perspective. Above all, this is when I see that I’m not alone in losing some sleep because we simply can’t offer a scholarship to all of them. When we leave the board room, we are all exhausted but comfortable with our decisions and grateful that we can fund as many as we did. This year we are pleased to offer 16 students four year scholarships for a total of $134,000!

This brings me to writing about our next event benefiting the scholarship fund. MARGARITAS AT THE MAHILS’!! On May 5 from 11am-2pm, MCFB Board director and Past President Jay Mahil, will generously donate his stunning backyard to host this event. If you haven’t seen Jay’s backyard, you are missing seeing an oasis. It is worth the price of a ticket to be able to lounge around his pool and pretend you are at a gorgeous resort!
All of the money raised at this event goes directly to the MCFB Scholarship Fund. Donations are tax deductible. Tickets are $70 each and there are sponsorship opportunities available. This year we are going with a Mexican themed Cinco de Mayo party. There will be margaritas, tacos, churros and all the fixings. Ten MCFB Board Directors have been asked to donate a basket of goodies representing their heritages to raffle off. It’s fun to learn about the different nationalities that made it to the Central Valley to farm. We are certainly a very diverse group!

When we do year over year comparisons of the donations and sponsorships that come in for this event, I’m humbled by the generosity everyone shows. Even in the last couple of hard years, you all have stepped up as much as you could for our next generation of agricultural leaders. I’m asking all of you step up once again so that MCFB can continue to support our youth into the future. Like I said at the beginning of my little essay, I, absolutely love this time of year. There is a spring in my step and a happy tune in my heart. It’s actually a little parody of the lyrics for “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”; “there’ll be barbecues for hosting, drip lines for fixing, off-key singing while suckering, complaining of weather and I’ll have to have dinner to-go; but it’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Happy Springtime everyone!

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