Steven Easter, a resident of Occidental who retired to Sonoma County after a distinguished career with Blue Diamond Growers in Sacramento, is the new president of the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County.
The Farm Bureau Foundation is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization that serves as the financial vehicle to support education, training and services for the benefit of the Sonoma County agricultural industry. Foundation directors believe the best way to preserve Sonoma County’s rich farming heritage is to make urban residents more aware of agriculture’s importance and to educate the next generation of agricultural leaders.
This year the Foundation is awarding $63,000 in scholarships to deserving students continuing their agricultural education at college.
Easter has been a director of the Farm Bureau Foundation since 2007. He succeeds Tito Sasaki, a Sonoma Valley grape grower and current president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, as foundation president.
Sasaki, who continues as a director, was elected vice president of the foundation. Steve Olson, a retired educator from Santa Rosa, is treasurer and Lex McCorvey, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, is secretary. Other directors are Petaluma attorney Max Mickelson and Arnie Riebli, managing partner of Sunrise Farms, a Petaluma poultry company.
Easter and his wife Joanne Jamison Easter moved to Occidental full time in 2002 following his retirement as first vice president for member and grower relations at Blue Diamond Growers. Easter’s career at the almond cooperative spanned 35 years. He also served as a director of the Almond Board of California, a state marketing order Between his job at Blue Diamond and his position on the Almond Board, Easter traveled the world promoting almonds and served on several trade advisory committees under the United States Department of Agriculture and the US Secretary of Agriculture.
Although he was raised in Dos Palos in Merced County, Easter has deep ties to Sonoma County. His wife, Joanne, is the daughter of the late Wes and Vera Jamison, beloved fixtures in the agricultural community for 60 years. Wes Jamison was the legendary agricultural educator at Santa Rosa High School as well as livestock manager and premium supervisor at the Sonoma County Fair.
Easter’s mother was a member of the Litton family who had a diversified 180 acre ranch on Westside Road in Healdsburg. Those deep connections and long history made Sonoma County a natural place for the Easters to make their home in retirement.
Easter was a star member of the Dos Palos FFA who went on to earn a bachelor and master’s degree from the University of California, Davis. He spent two years in the Army, including one year in Viet Nam before being hired by Blue Diamond Growers. He said it was rewarding to be part of a grower owner cooperative that grew from $35 million in annual sales when he started in 1967 to more than $1billion in sales today.
The Foundation Board recently welcomed new directors Marcia Kunde Mickelson of Kunde Family Estate Winery in Kenwood and Rohnert Park attorney Rachel Stevenson, who is deputy general counsel for American AgCredit, the Santa Rosa based agricultural lending cooperative.
Mickelson, a fourth generation wine grower, manages public relations, marketing and consumer direct wine sales, at her family’s Kunde Family Estate.
Mickelson and her husband Jim, their daughter Jamie, son Bobby and daughter-in-law Heidi also own and manage the registered Hereford cattle operation on the Kunde Estate, upholding the long-held Kunde family ranching tradition that has spanned more than a century.
Stevenson grew up on a farm in West Marin where she was actively involved in 4-H. She graduated from Tomales High School, obtained a business degree from CSU Sacramento and her law degree from UC Hastings in San Francisco.
Stevenson practiced as a litigator for eighteen years, with an emphasis on representing local financial institutions and business clients. She spent the last fourteen years of her private practice with Santa Rosa law firm, Abbey, Weitzenberg, Warren & Emery, where she was invited to become a partner in 2011.
In 2012, Stevenson joined American AgCredit as Deputy General Counsel. She has two daughters and two step-sons and is actively involved in their many extra-curricular activities which include barrel racing, dance, basketball, baseball and volleyball.