TULARE COUNTY – The Future Farmers of America (FFA) blue-corduroy jacket is a symbol of pride to the students who participate in the organization’s events. Sadly some do not have the financial means to purchase one. That is where the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s Bonanza program steps in.
On Jan. 23, a total of 21 students from around Tulare County received their jackets through this program during an award ceremony at the Exeter Memorial Building.
“These outstanding students have earned their very own FFA jacket to wear at the various FFA events and activities they plan to take part in during their high school career,” said Tulare County Farm Bureau President Joe Russell.
In order to receive their jacket these students had to go beyond just participating in events. The Bonanza program puts students through a series of qualifications. First a student must be a freshman or sophomore enrolled in FFA at a Tulare County school, or a resident of the county. Qualified students then must submit an application to the bureau. If they are selected then they will go through an interview process. Applicants go before a committee of three members, who previously reviewed their applications. Along with everything else students hoping to receive their jacket must submit a letter of reference, and complete 10 hours of community service.
“This program provides a way for the Farm Bureau to make an investment in young people who are motivated and excited to further their education in agriculture through the Future Farmers of America,” said Russell, who equated the FFA jackets to that of a letterman jacket worn by athletes.
Since the program began in 2012, the bureau has seen a steady increase in applicants and outfitted 145 jackets to Tulare County FFA members thanks to the generosity of donors including Bank of the Sierra, Dennis and Julie Cates, Kiwanis Club of Woodlake, Pixley Lions Club, Porterville Breakfast Lions Club, Tulare County Dairywomen, Tulare Rotary Club, and the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s Education and Scholarship Charitable Fund.
The following students are the Blue Jacket Bonanza recipients for this year: Matthew Brasil and Lauren Christmas, Central Valley Christian in Visalia; Jaelynne Kimble, Dinuba High School; Nathaniel Deanda, El Diamante High School in Visalia; Jazmin Gayton, Marcedalia Perez-Pimentel, and Danielle Steinhauer, Exeter High School; Kylee Filiponi, Jazzmin Prieto, and Miranda Salamanca, Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia; Angelina Mena, Dayana Miranda, and Itza Perez of Orosi High School; Rainia Jackson, Summit Charter Collegiate Academy; Maria Garcia, Aracely Lara, and Lexus Youngblood of Strathmore High School; Leslie Alejandre, Serena Magallanes, Jade Muniz, and Brooke Trueblood of Tulare Joint Union High School district.