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Growing ag leaders

Modified: Wednesday, Mar 15th, 2017

Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian Thomas Broz, president of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, serves as the master of ceremonies Wednesday at the annual National Agriculture Day Spring Luncheon at the fairgrounds.

Annual luncheon held at fairgrounds

WATSONVILLE The Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau is celebrating its 100th year in 2017, and the organization kicked things off at Wednesday's National Agriculture Day Spring Luncheon.

The annual luncheon, co-presented by educational organization Agri-Culture, was held at Heritage Hall at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. More than 150 community members, leaders, organization and business owners were in attendance.

Master of ceremonies, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau President Thomas Broz began the luncheon by welcoming and thanking all in attendence.

He then spoke about the importance of agriculture, both worldwide and locally.

"We are here to celebrate growing food for our country," he said. "It's important to recognize agriculture as it's prime industry."

A number of local companies, businesses and community members sponsored the event, which provided those in attendence with a locally catered meal.

During the lunch, the Farm Bureau announced its "100 Ag-Related Activities to do in Celebration of Farm Bureau's Centennial Year." A list of the first 33 activities was provided to attendees, which included cider tasting at Martinelli's Company Store, purchasing sustainable redwood at Big Creek Lumber or berry picking at local farms.

"We want to bring the public into what we do," Broz said.

A reacurring theme of the luncheon was how to get young people involved in agriculture--both locally and worldwide.

Farm Bureau Vice President Brendan Miele announced the winners of the 2017 National Agriculture Day Poster and Poetry contest, which was open to students across the county.

Daisy Mendoza, a sixth-grader at E.A. Hall Middle School in Watsonville, won first place for her poster.

Daisy claimed to be inspired by her surroundings growing up in Watsonville.

"Looking to the right and the left, everywhere are fields," she said.

Alyssa Burchell, a seventh-grader at Creekside School in Santa Cruz, won first place for her poem "A Bird's Eye View," which she read out loud to attendees.

The recipient of the 2017 Jimmie Cox Memorial Scholarship was also announced at the luncheon. The $4,000 scholarship, presented by American AgCredit and C&N Tractors, was awarded to Watsonville High School senior Jose German Basurto.

Basurto thanked the Farm Bureau and Agri-Culture, as well as his parents, who attended the event with him, for their support.

Basurto, who will attend Fresno State University in the fall, plans to pursue a career in agriculture system management. He hopes to return to Santa Cruz County to apply his knowledge to the area.

The last award of the day was the Al Smith Friend of Agriculture award, which went to Ted Burke, owner of Shadowbrook Restaurant, who has for years been involved with various agricultural projects and organizations in the area.

"I admire the work the agriculture community does for many reasons," Burke said. "It is hard-working, productive and generous. I've benefited greatly from working with it."

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