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 Thursday, Jan. 18, a total of 37 students from around Tulare County will receive their jackets through this program. The presentation will be held at Tulare County Office of Education on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia.
“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 Roger Everett.
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 Everett, who equated the FFA jackets to that of a letterman jacket worn by athletes.
Over the past few years since the program began in 2012 the bureau has seen a steady increase in applicants. For Everett the appreciation and gratitude that the kids express when they receive their jacket makes the program a success.
The following students are the Blue Jacket Bonanza recipients for this year: Jason Alcorn, Woodlake FFA; Ene Armenta, Woodlake FFA; Izaiah Benavides, Woodlake FFA; Xavier Bocanegra, Woodlake FFA; Rolando Casas, El Diamante FFA; Karla Castillo, El Diamante FFA; Rylee Cooper, Exeter FFA; Parker Davis, Woodlake FFA; David Gomez, VTEC FFA; Isabel Guzman, Exeter FFA; Whitney Iskenderian, VTEC FFA; Kristen Ledesma, Woodlake FFA; Andrew Leon, Woodlake FFA; Beneda Loya, Woodlake FFA; Hannah Mahony, Exeter FFA; Emily Martinez, Woodlake FFA; Alyssa Mendez, Woodlake FFA; Alexis Morales, Woodlake FFA; Dafne Pamplona-Quiroz, Dinuba FFA; Emalee Pickens, VTEC FFA; Nate Reeves, Woodlake FFA; Alejandra Sandoval, Woodlake FFA; Kailey Silva, Tulare FFA; and Samantha Traeger, VTEC FFA.