Steve Olson Honored with Spirit of Sonoma Award

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Steve Olson Honored with Spirit of Sonoma Award

Article by Rachel LaFranchi, Photo by Sonoma County EDB

Published January 1, 2017

Kim Vail
Steve Olson was presented the Spirit of Sonoma Award by Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo.

Family, community, agriculture and education are all words that describe Steve Olson, an influential member of the agricultural community.  Olson’s lifetime dedication to Sonoma County has earned him the Spirit of Sonoma Award. Olson was honored alongside 21 additional community leaders who epitomize the Spirit of Sonoma County.

Olson was honored at the December 9th, 2016 ceremony held at the Doubletree in Rohnert Park. The awards, hosted by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, intend to honor those who contribute to the economic development and enhancement of the communities in which they live, work and conduct business.

Opening and closing remarks were made by Ben Stone, Director of the Economic Development Board, and Kenn Cunningham of Exchange Bank introduced the recipients. Awards were presented by Efren Carrillo, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

Olson, nominated by Sonoma County Farm Bureau, was born in Fort Bragg but raised on a dairy and poultry ranch in Santa Rosa. He was always involved in 4-H and FFA, holding the office of President for both Santa Rosa FFA and Steuben 4-H Club.

Olson attended Santa Rosa Junior college before getting a bachelor’s degree at Fresno and his teaching credential and master’s degree at UC Davis. In college he was a member Fresno’s dairy cattle judging team, Alpha Gamma Rho and Alpha Zeta.

After college, Olson moved to Humboldt County and became an agricultural instructor at Ferndale High School. Three years later, Olson taught plant and soil science at the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) from 1970-74. He chaired the Department of Plant and Soil Science in addition to teaching for the next 13 years.

From 1987 to 2006, Olson was the Dean of Instruction, Education Programs and Services for SRJC. In this role, he administered a variety of instructional and support programs including the Ag and Natural Resources Department, Shone Farm, Community Education, Welding Technology, International Education, Community Outreach, Economic Development and more.

Olson’s professional accomplishments include helping establish the SRJC’s Ag and Natural Resources Department as well as having an instrumental role in developing Shone Farm. He helped develop the SRJC Foundation’s “Ag Trust” committee to support the ag department and school farm.

Additionally, Olson developed the recycled irrigation water system for Shone Farm in cooperation with the Town of Windsor. He also established the equine facilities to support the instructional needs of the SRJC Equine Program. 

Olson is currently the Treasurer of the Board for the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County. He has been on the board of more than 20 organizations holding offices on the majority of them. A handful of his influential agricultural involvement includes serving on the board of the Sonoma County 4-H Foundation, North Bay Wool Growers Association, Cloverdale Ram Sale, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, California Agricultural Leadership Associates, California Dorset Association and California Agricultural Teachers Association.

Olson and his wife Elaine will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year. They have two daughters, Jennifer and Rebecca, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time Olson enjoys golf, fishing, camping and traveling.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau congratulates all 22 Spirit of Sonoma County Award recipients. 

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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