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Farm Bureau Foundation Awards $86,000 in Scholarships to Top Agriculture Students in Sonoma and Marin Counties

Max

The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County has awarded a record $86,000 in scholarships to 31 agriculture students in Sonoma and Marin counties.

It’s the largest scholarship pay-out since the Farm Bureau Foundation was established in 2006, reflecting the tremendous generosity of donors who want to support and develop the next generation of Sonoma County farmers and agriculture leaders.

All of the scholarship recipients will continue their agricultural education at Santa Rosa Junior College or a four year university with several students attending out of state universities such as Cornell University in New York, Oregon State University, Oklahoma State University and Montana State University. The majority of the scholarship recipients are attending California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, which has become the leading agricultural college for North Bay agriculture students. The University of California, Davis, Fresno State University and Chico State University are the other colleges selected by North Bay students to pursue their agricultural education.

The scholarship winners are majoring in agriculture business, dairy science, agriculture education, biogenetic engineering, animal science, agriculture communications, viticulture and veterinary medicine.

“It is so gratifying that the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County can assist so many bright and dedicated young people in their agricultural education. The Farm Bureau Foundation is indebted to the many businesses and individuals donating money to fund agricultural scholarships for deserving students in Sonoma and Marin counties,” said Steven Easter, president of the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County.
Easter said the tremendous support for agriculture scholarships says a lot about the community and the desire to prepare the next generation of agricultural leaders in Sonoma County.

At the urging of the late Saralee McClelland Kunde, the Farm Bureau Foundation for the first time this year is awarding culinary scholarships for agriculture students. The culinary scholarships are funded by the Saralee McClelland Kunde Farm-to-Table Culinary Scholarship, which was established by Saralee’s friends and family following her death on Jan. 26. To be considered for the Saralee Culinary scholarship, students must have been members of the 4-H or FFA and exhibitors at the Sonoma County Fair.

“Saralee strongly believed the farm-to-table culinary path is a logical career for young people involved in agriculture. She always said that fine food was the pinnacle of agricultural production. She believed that culinary students who had roots in agriculture would value the importance of sourcing locally grown meats, produce and cheese from our amazing farmers and artisan producers,” said Tim Tesconi, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau and secretary of the Farm Bureau Foundation.

The Farm Bureau Foundation, a registered non-profit charitable foundation, administers scholarships provided by businesses and individuals to assist deserving students in their agriculture education. The scholarships are judged on academic achievement, leadership, community service and dedication to pursuing a career in agriculture. Finalists participated in an oral interview. This year’s scholarships ranged from $500 to $10,000.

Max Manoukian of Healdsburg who is a student at California State University, Chico, was awarded the prestigious $10,000 Bob and Leslie Kunde Memorial Scholarship. Max, the son of Phil and Sally Manoukian, will be a junior at Chico State next fall. After earning his degree at Chico, he plans to attend the University of California, Davis, to study viticulture and enology. His career goal is to become a vineyard manager in Sonoma County.

This summer, Max will spend six months in Lima, Peru where he will work in orphanages as a volunteer with an international non-profit organization.

The Kunde Scholarship is in memory of a beloved Sonoma Valley couple dedicated to agriculture and farm youth. The Kunde scholarship was established in 2009 by Leslie Kunde to honor the legacy of her late husband Bob Kunde and the Kunde family’s prominent role in Sonoma County agriculture during more than a century on their ranch in Glen Ellen. Following Leslie Kunde’s death in 2010 her children – Marcia Kunde Mickelson and Jeff and Keith Kunde - continued the scholarship to honor the memory of Bob and Leslie Kunde.

This year there were 38 students who applied for the scholarships administered by the Farm Bureau Foundation. A committee selected 32 finalists to participate in the oral interviews.

In addition to Steven Easter, president of the Farm Bureu Foundation, the members of the scholarship interview and selection panel were William “BJ’ Bertacco, a loan officer at American AgCredit, Marcia Kunde Mickelson of Kunde Family Estate Winery in Kenwood, Sara Brandenburg of Royal Petroleum Co., Santa Rosa and Tim Tesconi, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

 

The 2014 scholarship recipients and the scholarships:

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$10,000 Bob and Leslie Kunde Memorial Scholarship
Max

Max Manokian, 20, is the son of Phil and Sally Manoukian of Healdsburg. A graduate of Healdsburg High School, he is studying agriculture business at California State University, Chico. After graduating from Chico, he plans to attend the University of California, Davis, to study viticulture and enology. He has been a summer intern at E & J Gallo in Sonoma County. His career goal is to become a vineyard manager.


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$5,000 Jess Stonestreet Jackson Scholarship

Joeseph

Joseph Stefenoni, 21, is the son of Martha Stefenoni of Santa Rosa and the late Tom Stefenoni. A graduate of Analy High School, he attended SRJC before enrolling at Oklahoma State University where he is studying agricultural economics. This fall he will be a senior at OSU. Last semester he earned a 4.0 GPA. His career goal is to be an agricultural lobbyist.


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$5,000 Jess Stonestreet Jackson Scholarship
Amanda

Amanda Moretti, 20, is the daughter of dairy farmers Mike and Monique Moretti of Petaluma. A graduate of Tomales High School and a former District 3 Dairy Princess, she is an animal science major at Cornell University in New York. She is preparing for a career in the field of agricultural finance or dairy policy.


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$5,000 John Jordan Foundation Scholarship
Hanna

Hannah Chiapetta, 23, is the daughter of Victor and Sara Chiapetta of Petaluma. She is a graduate of Petaluma High School, and currently a student at Oklahoma State University where she is studying animal science. Before enrolling at OSU, she was a student at SRJC and active in the SRJC Ag Ambassadors.  Her goal is to become a ruminant nutrition consultant.


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$2,000 Royal Petroleum Scholarship,
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship and
$1,000 Art Lafranchi Memorial Scholarship

Danny

Danny Moretti, 18, the son of Petaluma dairy farmers Mike and Monqiue Moretti, is a 2014 graduate of Tomales High School where he was active in the FFA and school sports. He will enroll this fall at Oregon State University where he will study animal science. He is preparing for a career in the dairy industry and would like to one day take over the family dairy now operated by his parents.


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$2,000 Mark Furusho Memorial Scholarship and the
$1,000 Dick Weber Sunrise Farms Scholarship

Christopher

Christopher Sharp, 17, the son of Dan and Kathy Sharp of Santa Rosa, is a 2014 graduate of Santa Rosa High School where he was active in FFA and held the office of chapter president. He will attend California State University, Fresno, this fall and major in agriculture education. His goal is to become a high school agriculture teacher.


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$2,000 End-of-the-Road Gang Scholarship and
$1,000 Dick Weber Sunrise Farms Scholarship

Francesca

Fancesca Gambonini, 18, is the daughter of dairy ranchers Frank and Stacey Gambonini of the Gamlake Dairy in Petaluma. A 2013 graduate of St. Vincent de Paul High School, she was an award winning member of the Petaluma FFA Chapter. This fall she will be a sophomore at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she is studying dairy science, leading to a career as a dairy geneticist.


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$2,500 Tamara Lewis-Benson Memorial Scholarship

Jessie

Jessie Peterson, 19, is the daughter of Lew and Dodie Peterson of Petaluma. She is a 2013 graduate of Petaluma High School where she was active in the Petaluma FFA Chapter. She is studying agriculture at Santa Rosa Junior College where she is active in the SRJC Ag Ambassadors.  She will complete another year at SRJC before transferring to a four year college to complete her agricultural education. She plans to become a high school agriculture education teacher.


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$2,500 Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards & Winery Scholarship

Sara

Sarah Judge, 19, is the daughter of Joe and Gail Judge who own a vineyard in Santa Rosa’s Bennett Valley. She is a graduate of Montgomery High School where she was on the honor roll and a scholar athlete all four years of high school. She attends Cal Poly where she is studying agriculture business. She is preparing for a career in wine or agricultural marketing.


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$1,000 Pete & Judy Barbieri Scholarship in memory of Italo Barbieri and $1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship
Lori

Lori Bisordi, 19, the daughter of Robert and Stephanie Bisordi of Santa Rosa, is a fifth generation Sonoma County family farmer. A 2012 graduate of Santa Rosa High School, she attends Santa Rosa Junior College where she is studying viticulture. She plans to transfer to Fresno State University. She plans for a career in vineyard management while taking an active role in farming her family’s vineyards in the Russian River Valley.

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$1,000 Mike Lee/Calegari Vineyards Scholarship and
$1,000 Serres Ranch Agricultural Scholarship

Jacqueline

Jacqueline Chenoweth, 24, is the daughter of Steven Chenoweth of Sebastopol and the late Janine Chenoweth. A graduate of El Molino High School and Santa Rosa Junior College, she is a student at Fresno State University where she is majoring in viticulture. Her goal is be a vineyard manager in Sonoma County.


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$1,500 Opperman & Sons Truck Sales Scholarship and
$1,000 Al Nissen Sunrise Farms Scholarship

Isabella

Isabella Leventini, 21, the daughter of Michael and Christi Leventini, is a graduate of Santa Rosa High School where she was a member of the FFA. She has raised and showed market lambs as a member of the 4-H and FFA.  She has studied at Santa Rosa Junior College and will transfer to California State University, Chico, where she will be major in agriculture education, leading to a career as a high school agriculture teacher.


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$1,000 Mona Chisholm/Sonoma Marin Cattlemen and Cattlewomen Scholarship and
$1,000 Al Nissen Sunrise Farms Scholarship.
Suzanne

Suzanne Amaral, 19, the daughter of John and Doreen Amaral of Sonoma, is a 2012 graduate of Sonoma Valley High School. She was active in 4-H and FFA. She will be a junior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she is majoring in agricultural science. Her career goal is to become a high school agriculture instructor in Sonoma County.


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$2,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship and
$1,000 Herbert Burbank Memorial Scholarship
Abby

Abigal Balf, 21, the daughter of Robert and Andrea Balf of Petaluma, is a graduate of Petaluma High School. She is a student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she is majoring in agriculture business. She hopes to land a career in the wine industry as marketing specialist or financial analyst.


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$2,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship and
$1,000 Warren Dutton Memorial Scholarship

Erica

Erica Larson, 18, the daughter of Tom and Rebecca Larson of Sonoma, is a 2014 graduate of Sonoma Valley High School where she was active in the FFA. She was the Sonoma County 4-H Emerald Star Recipient in 2013. She will attend U.C. Davis this fall to study viticulture or agriculture business. Her goal is for a career in the wine industry or an agricultural business.


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$1,000 Isolena Maestretti & Bernice Beretta Memorial Scholarship,
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship and
$500 Marin County Farm Bureau Scholarship.

Michelle

Michelle McClure, 20, is the daughter of dairy ranchers Bob and Ruth McClure of Inverness. She grew up on her family’s Marin County dairy ranch and is a 2012 graduate of Petaluma High School. She is a student at Cal Poly where she is majoring in agricultural communications. She plans a career in agricultural marketing or advocacy.


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$2,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship and
$1,000 Friedman’s Home Improvement Scholarship

Emelie

Emelie Roche, 19, the daughter of Herbert Roche and Eva Tornebohm-Roche of Petaluma, is a graduate of George Washington High School in San Francisco. She was a member of the Penngrove 4-H where she had a sheep project. She is a student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she is studying animal science. Her goal is to become a veterinarian.


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$2,000 Saralee McClelland Kunde Farm-to-Table Culinary
Scholarship

Ashley

Ashley Corbett, 19, the daughter of Matthew and Janelle Corbett, is a 2013 graduate of El Molino High School where she was active in the FFA. She raised livestock for the Sonoma County Fair as a member of both the 4-H and FFA. She is a student of the culinary arts at Santa Rosa Junior College. She eventually plans to transfer to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena to complete her culinary training. She has interned at La Gare French restaurant in Santa Rosa. Her career goal is become an executive chef.


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$2,000 Saralee McClelland Kunde Farm-to-Table Culinary
Scholarship

Samantha

Samantha Spaletta, 21, the daughter of dairy ranchers Paul and Lisa Spaletta of Petaluma, is a graduate of Petaluma High School. She was a member of the 4-H and FFA and served as First Alternate Dairy Princess. She is a culinary arts student at Santa Rosa Junior College, specializing in pastries and baked goods.  Her goal is to become a baker and pastry chef and perhaps one day own a café of her own.


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$2,000 Sonoma County Vineyard Technical Group Scholarship

Nick

Nicholas Hernandez Ramirez, 22, is the son of vineyard worker Ramona Hernandez of Santa Rosa. He is a graduate of Windsor High School and is currently a student in the viticulture program at Santa Rosa Junior College. He plans to transfer to California State University, Fresno to complete his viticulture education. His career goal is to become a vineyard manager.


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$2,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship and
$1,000 Park Avenue Turf Scholarship

Christine

Christine Gluch, 17, the daughter of Patrick and Kimberly Gluch of Cazadero, is a 2014 graduate of Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa. She is active in 4-H Club work and volunteers with the Wrangler Mounted Assistant Unit. She will be attending Montana State University this fall to study animal science. Her goal is to become a large animal veterinarian.


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$1,000 Sonoma-Marin Cattlemen & Cattlewomen Scholarship and
$1,000 Lee Dolcini Dairymens Feed Scholarship.

Emma

Emma Briggs, 19, is the daughter of cattle ranchers Emmert and Jessica Briggs of Petaluma. She is a 2013 graduate of Petaluma High School where she was an award-winning member of the Petaluma FFA. She attends Santa Rosa Junior College and eventually plans to transfer to California State University, Fresno to study animal science. Her goal is to become a large animal veterinarian.


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$2,000 American AgCredit Scholarship

Paige

Paige Nonella, 19, is the daughter of Mike and Julie Nonella of Santa Rosa. She is a 2013 graduate of Cardinal Newman High School and was an active member of the Forestville 4-H Club. She is currently a student at Santa Rosa Junior College with plans to eventually transfer to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to major in agriculture business.  She plans a career in agriculture finance.


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$1,000 American AgCredit Scholarship and
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship

Michelle

Michelle Cheda, 20, is the daughter of Tim and Edie Cheda of Petaluma. She is a graduate of Casa Grande High School and was a member of the 4-H.  She just completed her second year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she is studying agriculture business. She is preparing for a career in agricultural marketing or agricultural lending.


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$1,000 Wright Contracting Scholarship and
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship

Gianna

Gianna Pendleton, 18, the daughter of Tom and Michelle Pendleton of Sebastopol, is a 2014 graduate of Analy High School. She is active in FFA and 4-H. She will attend Santa Rosa Junior College this fall to study veterinary science. Her goal is to become a large animal veterinarian.


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$1,000 Charles Bacigalupi/Russian River Valley Winegrowers
Scholarship and
$1,000 Supervisor Efren Carrillo Scholarship

Elisa

Elisa Pearson-Gomez, 17, the daughter of Robert Gomez and Elaine Pearson, is a 2014 graduate of Healdsburg High School where she was a member of the FFA. She will attend California State University, Chico, this fall to study sustainable agriculture science. Her career goal is to one day be a sustainable agriculture adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension.


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$1,000 Al Nissen Sunrise Farms Scholarship and
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship

Dana

Dana DeVries, 18, is the daughter of Douglas and Deborah De Vries of Windsor. She is a 2013 graduate of Windsor High School where she was captain of the Varsity cheerleading team. Next year she will be a sophomore at the University of California, Davis, where she is studying biological engineering. She is planning a career as biological or agricultural engineer.


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$1,000 Art Weyers Memorial Scholarship
Alyssa

Alyssa Medeiros, 18, the daughter of Vasco and Shelley Medeiros of Petaluma, is a graduate of Petaluma High School. She has been active in the 4-H and FFA and works on the John Taverna Dairy in Petaluma. She will attend Santa Rosa Junior College this fall and eventually plans to transfer to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to study agriculture business. Her goal is to work in agricultural business management.


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$1,000 Patrick & Allison Emery Scholarship and
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship

Mercedes

Mercedes Zipperle, 19, the daughter of Armin and Deeana Zipperle of Santa Rosa, is a graduate of Santa Rosa High School where she was a member of the FFA. She is currently attending Santa Rosa Junior College but eventually plans to transfer to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to continue her  education in animal science. Her goal is to become an equine veterinarian.


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$1,000 Turrentine Wine Brokerage Scholarship and
$500 North Coast/California Association of Pest Control Advisors Scholarship

Jenna

Jenna Matthias, 21, the daughter of Larry and Tammi Matthias of Cotati, is a graduate of Petaluma High School where she was active in the FFA. She attended SRJC before transferring to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she is majoring in viticulture. Her career goal is to be a vineyard manager.


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$1,000 Roy King Dairymens Feed Scholarship and
$1,000 Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship

Nick

Nicholas Temple, 18, the son of Matt and Nicole Temple of Petaluma, is a 2014 graduate of Petaluma High School where he was active in the FFA. He works on his grandparents’ Petaluma dairy and assists with the ranch work and cheese making. He said he will study agriculture and criminal justice this fall at California State University, Chico. He said his goal to work on the family dairy but work as police officer or defective to supplement the income from dairy ranching.