Home News 101st Annual Meeting of Members Celebrates Farm Bureau Leaders

101st Annual Meeting of Members Celebrates Farm Bureau Leaders

Tulare, Calif., (April 27, 2018) – Tulare County Farm Bureau is pleased to announce their annual celebration of members and leaders to take place during the 101st Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner to be hosted on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 6:00 pm at the Heritage Complex in Tulare.  Tickets for the event are $50 each and can be purchased by contacting the Tulare County Farm Bureau at 732-8301.

Tulare County Farm Bureau will present the following major awards: the Agriculturalist of the Year Award, Service to Farm Bureau, Friend of Farm Bureau, Agricultural Business of the Year, and Educator of the Year; along with graduating the 33rd class of youth leaders and awarding over $21,000 in local scholarships to 24 deserving students.  Being honored this year with major awards are:

Agriculturalist of the Year – Brian Watte

Brian Watte will be this year’s Agriculturalist of the Year.  Farm Bureau’s highest honor recognizes leaders in our community who give tremendous support to the farming community through leadership, generosity, and service to organizations.  Brian farms west of Tulare on ground that his family has owned since 1959.  The Watte family has been strong community leaders in agriculture, and in support of the International Agri-Center, and the founding and development of events at the Center. Brian has shown tremendous devotion, leadership, and support to the International Agri-Center, and is a leader in the farm community.  He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the American Pistachio Growers Association, and is head of their Marketing Committee. Brian is also current Chairman of the Board for International Agri-Center, and a past Grounds Chairman, and was World Ag Expo Show Chairman in 2000. Brian and his wife Patti have three grown children who all live nearby and continue to be directly involved in agriculture.

Service to Farm Bureau Awards – Kelly Mitchell and Larry Stoneburner

Kelly Mitchell and Larry Stoneburner, two dedicated volunteers will both be honored this year with service awards.  Kelly Mitchell is the owner of Mitchell Insurance Services agency in Visalia, and provides farm and crop insurance to local farmers in the community.  Kelly has been an avid supporter of the Fundraiser Committee of the Farm Bureau, involved since 2005 as a donor, committee member, and stalwart volunteer.   Larry Stoneburner, a retired doctor, and owner of KTIP Radio has been an active Farm Bureau volunteer since 2006 when he joined the Farm Bureau.  Larry has served on almost every committee of the Tulare County Farm Bureau.  Both individuals exemplify service, dedication, and volunteer spirt and are being honored for service to the organization.

Friend of Farm Bureau Award – Jim Vidak

Soon to retire after a long and distinguished career in education, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, Jim Vidak will receive the Friend of Farm Bureau award.  Jim’s leadership and support towards the Farm Bureau’s agricultural education programs is well known, and his friendship and passion towards agricultural literacy is deeply appreciated.  Mr. Vidak has offered over two decades of support, collaboration, and leadership to the Farm Bureau through shared efforts on school garden funding and support, the calendar art contest, hosting an annual Superintendents’ Breakfast with the Farm Bureau and numerous other educational activities. We are honored by Jim’s commitment and dedication to agricultural education in the County, and appreciate his support and friendship to the Farm Bureau.

Agricultural Business of the Year Award – Valley Tech Agricultural Laboratory

Valley Tech Agricultural Laboratory, founded in April 1997, will be named this year’s Agricultural Business of the Year, for their dedicated service to the agricultural community, and their philanthropic support of many local organizations and the Farm Bureau. Each year Tulare County Farm Bureau honors a local business that has shown extraordinary support to Farm Bureau and the greater agricultural community.  Owners Sam Modesitt, Joe O’Brien, and Jeff Sa have distinguished themselves as community friends and supporters to the agricultural industry through their professional services and as an allied business that serves agriculture in an exemplary manner. Valley Tech Agricultural Laboratory’s goal is to help growers who use their testing and consulting services have a successful crop year after year. Agriculture cannot succeed without allied support industries and businesses like Valley Tech Agricultural Laboratory, who offer their outstanding service and knowledge to help advance agricultural operations and provide them with solutions for their agronomic needs.

Educator of the Year – Frank Tebeau

A dedicated career educator, currently in the Industrial Technology division at College of the Sequoias, Frank Tebeau is an outstanding educator in every respect.  Frank started as an agriculture instructor in 1976 at Washington Union High School and a few years later accepted a position at Mt Whitney High School, where he had the opportunity to teach alongside his former ag teachers. In 1997, Frank moved to College of the Sequoias where he has served as an agricultural faculty member teaching animal science, welding, and mechanics courses.  He currently serves on 11 advisory committees, and has developed more than 100 courses for COS in agriculture and industrial technologies.  He believes that Career Technical Education is critical to helping young people reach their potential and be both college and career ready and has served as a mentor and coach to thousands of young people throughout Tulare County over his distinguished career in agricultural teaching.

Youth Awards and Recognition – Numerous students will be also recognized at the banquet including 26 students graduating from the 33rd class of the nationally recognized Youth Leadership program. The outstanding Youth Leadership participant award will be awarded to a student of the class who was selected as an exemplary member of this year’s program. The outstanding participant will receive a $1,000 scholarship upon enrollment in college.

Scholarship Recipients for 2018 – Scholarship recipients from throughout Tulare County, listed below will be recognized, 24 students are receiving $21,000 in scholarship aid.   Awards are made possible by the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s charitable trust fund, which is a 501c3 charitable trust for Educational and Scholarship programs of the Farm Bureau.  Donations for scholarships are made by contributors throughout the year, and are always appreciated.  Memorial awards have been established by certain families, and the Scott Shannon memorial award is a renewable award for up to $2,000 total.   All other awards listed below are one-time awards. New in 2018 the Ken and Cindy Williams Scholarship for $2,500 has been added to the fund, to be offered to a student pursuing agriculture engineering or other technical agriculture trade programs of study.


First NameLast NameAward Name AmountSchool
KiaraBenavidesTCFB Ag Career $      1,000Woodlake High School
ErickBurgosStudent of Farm Employee $      1,000University Preparatory High School
LaurenDavisScott Shannon Memorial $         500El Diamante High School
LaurenDavisMary Rankin Memorial $      1,000El Diamante High School
SarahDreyerMerit Award $         500Cal Poly, SLO
JaredFariaTCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers award $         500Mission Oak High School
HayleyFernandesMerit Award $         500Mission Oak High School
GaronGostanianScott Shannon Memorial $         500Redwood High School
GaronGostanianKen and Cindy Williams Scholarship $      2,500Redwood High School
BaileyGruberScott Shannon Memorial $         500Golden West High School
BaileyGruberTCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers award $      1,000Golden West High School
GraceGuthrieMerit Award $         500Cal Poly, SLO
TaelorHireMerit Award $         500Exeter Union High School
LaurenLeonardoStudent of Farm Employee $         500Mission Oak High School
JaquelineLonginoStudent of Farm Employee $         500University Preparatory High School
PiaMartinezTCFB Ag Career $      1,000Woodlake High School
TannerNuckolsCOS RRS Endowment $         500Strathmore High School
AaronOppedykStudent of Farm Employee $         500Mission Oak High School
AbbigailPrinsTCFB Ag Career $      1,000Mission Oak High School
CharliezRacicotScott Shannon Memorial $         500Mt. Whitney High School
CharliezRacicotTwo Year College $         500Mt. Whitney High School
EdgarSanchezStudent of Farm Employee $         500El Diamante High School
ColeShannonScott Shannon Memorial $         500Central Valley Christian
KelseyStoryScott Shannon Memorial $         500Golden West High School
TaylorStoutFred and Marilyn Collison Memorial $      1,000El Diamante High School
LindseySwallTCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers award $      1,000Mission Oak High School
AshleyTartagliaMerit Award $         500Central Valley Christian
PaytonThomasScott Shannon Memorial $         500Redwood High School
PaytonThomasFrank Ribeiro Memorial $      1,000Redwood High School


For more information about this year’s honorees or to attend the dinner, contact the Farm Bureau office at 559-732-8301. Tickets at $50 each are available please call soon as seating is first come, first served.  Reservations for a full table of 8 may be requested in advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *