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Santa Rosa and Elsie Allen High Schools Receive More Than $3,000 in Grants From the Wes Jamison Endowment Fund

By Tim Tesconi

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Representatives from Santa Rosa High School receiving their check. From left to right: Chas Christianson, Madi Shelley, Agriculture Instructor Riggs Lokka, Steve Olson and Sam McMillan. Both photos by Steven Knudsen of Farm Bureau.
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Agriculture Instructor Lindsay Swickard from Elsie Allen High School and the Elsie Allen Principal receiving a check from Sam McMillan and Steve Olson. Back row, left to right: Jesus Rosas and Johnathan Corona. Front row, left to right: Melissa Rodriguez, Guadalupe Nava, Jasmin Paz-Garcia and Lupita Albor.

The agriculture departments at Santa Rosa and Elsie Allen high schools were  awarded grants totaling $3,150 from the Wes Jamison Memorial Endowment Fund, established in memory of the legendary leader who guided Sonoma County agriculture for a half century.

The committee that oversees the Jamison Endowment Fund voted to award $2,000 to Santa Rosa High School’s agriculture department and $1,150 to the agriculture department at Elsie Allen High School. The annual grants represent the year’s proceeds from the Jamison Endowment Fund.
The $2,000 Jamison grant to Santa Rosa High School will be used to purchase materials to build a barbecue trailer. The barbecue trailer will be used to prepare tri-tip dinners and other food that can be sold to raise money for the Santa Rosa agriculture department and FFA program. It will help the program become more financially sustainable and self-sufficient in raising funds for FFA conferences and other agriculture education and leadership programs.

“This barbecue trailer is a real need for the ag program. It will support the students’ fundraising efforts for many events throughout the year and into the future. The impact of this project is tremendous,” said Riggs Lokka, the agriculture instructor at Santa Rosa High School who completed the application for the Jamison grant.
He said students will be involved in designing and building the barbecue trailer and will be responsible for its care and maintenance. Students will also learn culinary skills associated with the preparation of barbecue meals that are sold at fund-raising events to members of the community and students on campus.

Elsie Allen will use its $1,150 for equipment for a new floral design class that is attracting new students into the agriculture program.

“This course will have a huge impact on the Elsie Allen FFA program by increasing the student involvement and membership. The nature of this course allows a new variety of students to become involved in the FFA,” said agriculture instructor Lindsay Swickard, who submitted the application for the Elsie Allen Ag Department.

The Endowment Fund was established in memory of J. Wesley Jamison, who died in 1989 at the age of 81. Jamison was a vocational agriculture instructor at Santa Rosa High School for nearly 40 years, livestock superintendent at the Sonoma County Fair and founder of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

The mission of the Wes Jamison Endowment Fund is to enhance the agriculture education of students at Santa Rosa and Elsie Allen high schools, the only high schools in the Santa Rosa City Schools District with agriculture programs. Today, many of the agriculture students at both high schools come from urban areas and are aided in their agricultural education by the hands-on learning experiences offered at the schools.
Steve Olson, a retired SRJC educator who is chairman of the Jamison Endowment Fund, said this year’s grants to Santa Rosa and Elsie Allen high schools fund projects that involve extensive hands-on participation by students. He said both projects were developed by first-year agriculture instructors at their respective schools.

“Wes Jamison helped dozens of new agriculture teachers get started in the teaching profession,” said Olson. “It is great to see this legacy continue long after his passing, thanks to the generosity of his many friends, former students and family.”

This is the tenth year that proceeds have been awarded from the Wes Jamison Memorial Endowment awards program. Over the last decade more than $17,000 has been given to Santa Rosa and Elsie Allen Ag Departments.

The Jamison Funds’ support of agriculture education within the Santa Rosa City Schools District is more important today than ever in light of increasing enrollment in the agriculture program and limited budgets.

Olson said the fund is an example of how numerous small contributions can add up to a significant endowment that annually supports the acquisition of instructional equipment for the classroom, FFA member leadership training and special hands-on projects. Many donors make the Jamison Fund part of their annual giving.

In addition to Olson, the others serving on the Jamison Endowment Committee are Jamison’s niece Marilyn Jacobs Herzog of Petaluma and Jamison’s former agriculture students, Lex McCorvey, Bill Gass, Sam McMillan, Clem Carinalli, Bob Matteri  and Tim Tesconi.

The Jamison Endowment Fund is administered by the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Foundation.  Checks should be made to the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Foundation/Jamison Fund and mailed to Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Foundation, in care of the Wes Jamison Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 1513, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95402.

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