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Farm Bureau names ag award winners at May 7 dinner

Farm Bureau names ag award winners at May 7 dinner

Agriculturist, Agribusiness of the Year, Service to Farm Bureau and Outstanding Educator award winners will be honored May 7 in Tulare

@TheSunGazette

TULARE COUNTY – If agriculture is the engine that drives our economy, then the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s annual award winners are the engineers pulling the levers in the right directions.

Tulare County Farm Bureau announced its 2019 honorees to be honored at the 102nd Annual Dinner on May 7 in Tulare. The major awards include Agriculturalist of the Year, Service to Farm Bureau, Agricultural Business of the Year and the Outstanding Educator of the Year; along with graduating the 34th class of youth leaders and awarding $18,500 in local scholarships to 24 deserving students. Being honored this year with major awards are:

Agriculturalist of the Year, Ben Curti
Ben Curti 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. Curti is a third-generation dairyman, hailing from the Waukena area, which is southwest of Tulare. His family started their dairy operation in 1913 after emigrating from Italy. Today, Ben owns and operates Curtimade Dairy, Inc. consisting of a milking herd of 3,700 Jersey cows. He also farms over 1,300 acres producing forage crops, as well as pistachios and walnuts under the name Ben Curti Farms.

The Curti family has been a member of Land O’Lakes and its predecessor Dairyman’s Creamery Cooperative Association since 1945. Ben himself served in both co-ops’ elected leadership, including 15 years as a Director for the Corporate Board of Land O’Lakes, Inc. Ben’s family is directly involved in the day to day operations, with his daughter Tessa and son-in-law Stuart Hall directly involved in operating the dairy alongside Ben and his wife Elizabeth.

Service to Farm Bureau, Joey Airoso
The Service to Farm Bureau award is presented to an active member, and volunteer leader who has served Farm Bureau for many years and gives of their time, talent, and treasure to improve the organization and support the mission of Farm Bureau. Joey Airoso is this year’s recipient. He is involved in owning and operating a third generation family-owned dairy and farm. He was previously a board member of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, and served as president of the Farm Bureau from 2014-2016.  He has served on numerous committees and chaired the Centennial Committee in 2017.

His family breeds registered Holstein Cattle for show and sale, and are devoted to improving the Holstein Breed through top quality breeding. He shares his passion for show cattle with youth and is a fervent supporter of youth livestock showing, and promoting the dairy industry to the public. Joey is a dedicated father, husband, and grandfather and gives generously of himself to many causes in the farm and dairy community. 

Agricultural Business of the Year, Gar Tootelian, Inc.
Gar Tootelian, Inc. 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.  You need look no further than to Greg and Karen Musson, and their family members who run Gar Tootelian, Inc. to see philanthropy, community support, and devotion to one’s industry. GAR is a second-generation family owned and operated business which still prospers as one of California’s oldest & largest independent agricultural companies. GAR continues to help growers throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley be successful by helping them grow the best and safest food to feed the world.

Outstanding Educator, Dave Caetano
A dedicated career educator, Dave Caetano will complete 40 years of teaching as an agricultural educator at Tulare Joint Union High School District this year. Dave embodies all of the strengths and character of an outstanding teacher and mentor and will be awarded the honor at this year’s annual dinner. Originally from Kingsburg, Dave has spent his entire agricultural teaching career at Tulare in the High School Agriculture Department serving thousands of students and mentoring championship FFA teams and individuals for the past four decades. He has coached 29 state championship teams, three national championship teams, and five national top five finishers. He has coached more than 500 students to receive their State Farmer Degree and over 200 students receive their American Farmer Degree, the highest national honor in the FFA organization.

The Tulare County Farm Bureau’s 102nd Annual Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7 at the Heritage Complex in Tulare. 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. 

Youth Awards and Recognition
Numerous students will be recognized at the banquet including 24 students graduating from the 34th 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.

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