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Wes Jamison Merit Awards: New Jamison Fund Awards Focus on Helping Students with Livestock Projects

Article and Photos by Rachel LaFranchi

Published April 1, 2017

Kim Vail
Eight members of Santa Rosa FFA students received Jamison Merit Awards. From left to right: Sam McMillian, Austin Maners, Trey Hennes, Karen Lopez, Olivia Trull, Eric Valdez, Savannah Ferris, Olivia Taylor and Steve Olson. In the front row, Clem Carinalli presents a check to chapter president Eryn Francavilla. 
Kim Vail
Six members of Elsie Allen FFA were awarded Jamison Merit Awards. From left to right: Sam McMillian, Jayden Slocum, Ariel Inocencio, Mariana Hernandez, Bob Matteri, Ruby Vargas, Alejandra Enriquez, Manuel Arechiga and Steve Olson.

The Jamison Fund was established 27 years ago for the purpose of providing financial assistance to the high school agriculture programs and FFA chapters in Santa Rosa.

The fund is named after Wes Jamison, an ag teacher at Santa Rosa High School from 1930-1968. Jamison served as manager of the Sonoma County Fair from 1945 - 1952, the Livestock Superintendent from 1952 - 1977 and the founder of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

The fund is managed by the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Foundation, and a committee of Jamison’s former students and family oversee the fund. In the past, grants have been given for instructional equipment, school farm facilities and FFA leadership activities. As of last year, the Jamison Fund has provided more than $100,000 in assistance to the agricultural community.

At the end of 2016, the committee developed a new strategy aimed at providing financial assistance directly to worthy students purchasing, raising, showing and selling animals at the Sonoma County Fair Junior Livestock Auction. The new program follows in the steps of the successful Junior Grand National (Cow Palace) Merit Program. The goal is to provide more FFA members with the opportunity to buy high quality animals to exhibit and sell at the Sonoma County Fair.

This year, in the program’s first year, eight students at Santa Rosa High School and six students at Elsie Allen High School received merit awards.

Eryn Francavilla is a senior at Santa Rosa High School, President of the Santa Rosa FFA, Sonoma Section Secretary and one of the students to receive a merit award. This is her third year raising hogs which she keeps at the school farm. Through her project she has learned how to manage money – her projects have been fully funded through Community First Credit Union. She develops a budget and makes sure she doesn’t go over.

Never having pets growing up, Francavilla has also learned responsibility from her projects. “It takes a lot of work and skill to do this,” said Francavilla. “Ultimately, my goal is to be able to pay off my loans and save money for school.” Next year she plans to attend Chico State to major in nursing with the goal of becoming a registered ER nurse.

Trey Hennes is raising a lamb and a goat this year. He is also a recipient of a Jamison Merit Award from Santa Rosa FFA. As a junior, he has already shown a rabbit and lamb and his goal is to show every animal by the time he graduates. Hennes, Santa Rosa’s Mr. FFA (a male version of chapter sweetheart), doesn’t live on a farm or have livestock experience, but his father and grandfather both showed animals through 4-H and FFA.

“Through FFA, I have had great opportunities to use the facilities to raise animals,” said Hennes. “I hope to do good this year at the fair, and I plan to put in as much time as I possibly can.”

Mariana Hernandez is a senior at Elsie Allen where she is raising two pigs for this year’s Sonoma County Fair. She has raised pigs since her freshman year and learned time management and responsibility through her project. Hernandez’s grandfather had a farm when she was growing up, but she had never seen him raise pigs and she wanted to learn the difference in raising different types of livestock. Hernandez is graduating this spring and plants to go to UC Davis or Chico State to major in ag education.

“My favorite part is finding their personality,” Hernandez said of her hogs, “each pig is unique and has their own. It’s important to have fun, but the project also requires a lot of time.”

This year, Ruby Vargas is raising one goat and a pen of chickens. Vargas is a sophomore and this is her second year raising goats. She had a brother involved in FFA, but prior to her FFA projects she had no experience with livestock. She chose goats because they “just caught her eye.”

“My favorite part of the project is getting to know the goats, the experience and all the memories you make that you’ll have for years,” said Vargas. “Raising goats is really fun and you get to know more about the animal. It’s a great experience.”

Elsie Allen students were awarded a total of $1,050 to Ruby Vargas, Manuel Arechiga, Alejandra Enriquez, Ariel Inocencio, Mariana Hernandez and Jayden Slocum. Santa Rosa FFA students Eric Valdez, Olivia Taylor, Karen Lopez, Trey Hennes, Eryn Francavilla, Olivia Trull, Savannah Ferris and Austin Maners were awarded a total of $1,600.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the author and Sonoma County Farm Bureau when reprinting this item.

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