Each year, the Imperial County Farm Bureau presents local students with scholarships to aid them in their studies. The scholarship fund is supported by donations and our annual Farm Bureau Scholarship Barbecue, held annually in April. The 2014 Scholarship BBQ is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 2, 2014.
We were very excited to be able to issue close to $28,000 in scholarships in 2013 to local students! We sincerely appreciate all those who supported the Farm Bureau BBQ, and those who have donated toward the Vern Highley Memorial, Matt LaBrucherie Memorial and Raul Rodriguez Memorial Scholarships. These are the people who make these scholarships possible.
Applications for the 2014 Farm Bureau Scholarship Program are available. For other scholarship opportunities, look at the text along the right-hand side of this page.
Prior to their untimely deaths in June 2012, Jack & Pauline McConnell were strong advocates for agriculture education. Jack served on the Farm Bureau scholarship committee for as long as it existed, and outside of Farm Bureau the pair shared their rich knowledge with many local and even international students of all ages.
It is fitting, then, that their legacy will continue in a Jack & Pauline McConnell Memorial Scholarship fund, which has been established by Imperial County Farm Bureau in the McConnells' memory.
Jack had served as a Farm Bureau board member continuously since the 1950s, while Pauline was extremely active in Farm Bureau Women as well as serving on the Farm Bureau Board of Directors, among many other activities in service to our community and agriculture industry. Click here to read more about this couple and their contributions to the Imperial Valley.
The McConnell Memorial Scholarship will be funded through donations made in Jack & Pauline's memory. If you are interested in making a donation to the fund, contact ( or 760-352-3831), or simply mail a check to Imperial County Farm Bureau, 1000 Broadway, El Centro CA 92243. Be sure to include a note on or with your check to let us know that you'd like your donation to go toward the Jack & Pauline McConnell Memorial Scholarship fund. Donations will go directly into scholarships for local students. Students presented with the Jack & Pauline McConnell Memorial Scholarship will have a chance to learn more about Mr. and Mrs. McConnell and their contributions to the local agriculture industry.
2013 Scholarship Recipients
Imperial County Farm Bureau scholarships are open to Imperial County students who will be enrolled in college full-time pursuing an agriculture-related career. (See the sidebar along the right for additional scholarship opportunities for local students interested in agriculture.)
The following students were selected to receive scholarships for the 2013-14 school year. If you'd like to get to know a few of our previous scholarship recipients, click here.
Robert remembers the first plane that he ever flew in, and credits that moment with instilling in him a desire to become a pilot. He is now a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and completed his first solo flight on December 8, 2011. After he completes school he will serve a tour of duty with the Army, and hopes to return to Imperial Valley after completing his service to become a crop duster pilot.
Kayanna has grown up around farming and agriculture her entire life. Her grandfather, great-grandfather and two great-great-grandfathers farmed in Imperial County and were very active in the agriculture community. Kayanna is in her third year at Northern Arizona University, where she has been mentoring other students and is on track to complete her Bachelor's degree a semester early. Kayanna has a deep appreciation for agriculture and loves to educate those around her about ag and the rural life.
Taylor is now in her fourth year at the University of Idaho where she is preparing for a career in agricultural research. In 2012, she was selected for the Undergraduate Research Award by the Weed Science Society of America. Taylor works at the Weed Ecology Research & Extension, and hopes to continue on with her research after college.
Preston, a Brawley native, is extremely active in the I Love Farmers, They Feed My Soul agvocacy organization, in addition to numerous other ag-related organizations and activities in Yuma, where he is attending Arizona Western College. Preston is majoring in animal science and hopes to open his own feed and tack shop in the Valley.
Leilani is a Brawley Union High School graduate who is now in her freshman year at Imperial Valley College, where she will major in animal science. During high school she was an active participant in FFA and 4-H, serving as FFA Chapter Treasurer and President, and raising steers, feeder calves, dairy heifers, lambs and rabbits, in addition to other extracurricular activities including the Imperial Valley Shooting Club.
Julia began working on a feed lot at the age of 12, and has spent many summers and weekends driving tractors and water trucks, cleaning drinkers and processing cattle. As a member of Brawley FFA, Julia raised market sheep, raising the FFA Reserve Grand Champion market lamb in 2010. Julia is now in her first year at Brigham Young University, Idaho.
Matthew LaBrucherie Scholarship
Matthew LaBrucherie lived the American Dream and spent his life helping others do the same. The son of French immigrants, Mr. LaBrucherie attended Imperial Valley College, Oregon State University and St. Mary's College, where he earned a degree in business administration before returning to Imperial Valley to farm. He was a founder of McCabe Cattle Company, and personally built many of the corrals by hand, which are still in use today. He worked with partners to create El Toro Land & Cattle, El Toro Grain and El Toro Export. These businesses, along with his extensive investment of time, energy and perseverance in giving back to his community contributed immeasurably to advancing the agricultural economy of the Imperial Valley.
2012 Scholarship Program Recipients
A Brawley Union High School graduate, Courtney has been involved in the agricultural community all her life. She served on several Cattle Call committees, the Junior Fair Board, and as co-chair of the Mini Rodeo held for special-needs children and adults. Courtney is in her third year at Oklahoma State University, majoring in animal science with a biotechnology emphasis.
Christina is in her second year at Bethel College in Indiana. She has enjoyed learning about the differences between the agricultural methods used in different parts of the nation, and enjoys sharing what she learned growing up as a part of the Imperial Valley ag community. After college she looks forward to returning to the Valley to begin her career.
Living around agriculture in Imperial Valley and watching his father's work in the industry sparked an interest in Wesley and he is eager to make a career in production agriculture or pest management. He is in his second year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he is earning a strong GPA on his way to achieving that goal.
As a student at Brawley Union High School, Kassandra participated in the Math Club, California Scholastic Federation, and Brawley FFA among numerous other clubs and activities. She is beginning her studies at Cal Poly Pomona. Kassandra plans to major in zoology in preparation for becoming a veterinarian.
Adam was inspired to make a career in agriculture as he grew up watching his father work in ag. He will be attending Cuesta College this fall and plans to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and major in ag business. Adam is proud to be among the first generation of his family to attend college, and hopes to become a produce broker when he graduates.
Katlyn has been a member of 4-H since she was 9 years old, and served two years as Vice President of Southwest Valley 4-H in addition to helping as a teen leader for four years. She is beginning her freshman year at Imperial Valley College where she is majoring in agricultural science. After college she hopes to pursue a career in crop and livestock management.
John "Steven" McFaddin
Steven is a student at Imperial Valley College where he is majoring in agriculture business and serves as the IVC Ag Club's Vice President. Steven hopes to earn a degree from Cal State Fresno and embark on a career as a commodities broker, so he can help distribute the Valley's abundant agricultural commodities throughout the world.
David recently transferred from UCLA to UC Riverside so he can participate in the strong entomology research program at Riverside. Since transferring, David has participated in several hands-on research projects and has already accomplished work that will likely have an impact on California agriculture, in particular animal health.
Six years ago, Allison established a swine breeding operation with her father. Since then she has shown throughout Southern California and Arizona, and has served as an instructor at various swine show clinics within the region. Allison recently transferred from Imperial Valley College to Texas Tech University where she is majoring in environmental crop and soil science.
Vern Highley Memorial Scholarship
Holtville native and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo alumnus Vern Highley served in the successful campaigns of two United States Presidents, became Director of the USDA for the Western States, and served as both Special Assistant and Deputy Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Highley was Cal Poly Alumnus of the Year in 1974, and received numerous awards for his service to the federal government and the agriculture industry.
2012 Scholarship Program Recipients
Lindsey is a Holtville native in her fourth year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She recently transferred from the animal science department to the agriculture sciences department because she recognizes the strong need for educating future generations about agriculture. Her concentration is animal science and she hopes to earn her teaching credential and eventually her Master's degree.
Maureen is among the fourth generation in her family to be involved in agriculture in Imperial Valley. A Holtville native, her father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all farmers locally, and they instilled in her a deep love and appreciation for agriculture. Maureen is studying agriculture education at Imperial Valley College, and is currently working toward her American FFA Degree - one of the highest honors an FFA member can earn.
After spending a week with the California Legislature her senior year at Imperial High School advocating for FFA and the agriculture industry, and competing as a finalist in the State FFA Extemporaneous Speaking Contest, Brea knew that a career in agriculture was the right choice. She is now in her second year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, after completing her Bachelor's degree she intends to earn a Master's in agribusiness or a Juris Doctor law degree so she can work either in a role within the USDA or FDA, or possibly as a lobbyist.
Amanda van Leeuwen
Amanda is a graduate of Imperial High School, where she served as President of the Associated Student Body and the Student Council. Her family has been involved in the dairy industry for generations, and Amanda plans to major in dairy science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She aspires to continue her family's dairying tradition, possibly even marketing her own brand of ice cream in the future.
Kylee is a graduate of Brawley Union High School and Humboldt State University. She is now in her second year as a graduate student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she is working toward her Master's in public policy. Kylee has volunteered with several agriculture-related non-profit organizations while attending school. This experience, along with her upbringing in an agriculture-based community and family, led her to focus her research thesis on agriculture policy. After graduating, Kylee plans to begin a career in the agriculture non-profit sector where she hopes to "fairly represent the Imperial Valley and help preserve the farming way of life."
Raul Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship
Raul Rodriguez, former Farm Bureau board member, spent his life helping others, always ready to offer his time or resources to a good cause. A Brawley native, Raul grew up working on his father's ranch. He attended Cal Poly Pomona where he earned a degree in crop science before returning to the Valley to begin his own farming operation with his brother. In addition to serving as board member at Farm Bureau, Raul also served on the IID's Water Conservation Advisory Board as well as the USDA Farm Service Administration's County Advisory Committee.
2012 Scholarship Program Recipients
Brooke hopes to begin her career promoting U.S. agricultural commodities or services. Since graduating from Holtville High School, Brooke has been attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she is majoring in agribusiness. In addition to her major, Brooke is minoring in political science to help her achieve her goal of eventually becoming a United States Ambassador. In 2010, Brooke was one of a select few students in the United States to be accepted into the NRA Y.E.S. program where she represented California in Washington, D.C.
Lucio grew up working around his father and grandfather's cattle ranch, raised feeder calves at Calexico FFA and spent summers working at the Cameiro Heifer Ranch. He always knew he wanted a career in agriculture, and during a trip to Mexico he learned about orchids, roses and citrus, and realized that his passion is in plant science. Lucio is now attending Cal Poly Pomona, where he manages over 6,000 square feet of hydroponically grown tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce in addition to keeping up with his studies in plant science/agronomy.
Joshua grew up outside of Brawley on a small date grove, and enjoyed being involved in agriculture. While participating in Brawley FFA, Joshua served two terms as Chapter President and earned his American FFA Degree. He is now in his freshman year at Cal Poly Pomona, where is majoring in plant science. Joshua hopes to enter a career in agriculture education, greenhouse management or desert tree fruit production, or possibly even a combination of these careers.
Since the age of 9, Lesly has raised, shown, bred and sold award-winning market goats and cattle, and has donated all the proceeds from her goats to the American Cancer Society. A graduate of Holtville High School, Lesly is attending San Diego State University and plans to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona, where she aims to earn her degree in animal science.
2012 Scholarship Program Recipients
Deborah De La Riva
Deborah is a four-time recipient of a Farm Bureau scholarship. The Southwest High graduate was the first among her family to earn a college degree and is now in her second year of studies in the doctorate program in entomology at UC Riverside. She has participated in numerous hands-on research projects and has shown a strong proficiency in research. In her first year, she was awarded first place in a Ph.D. Research Poster competition held by the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, where she was competing against many students in their third or fourth year of Doctoral studies. Debbie is an extremely impressive student who will likely go on to have a strong impact on ag research.
Cheyenne is now in her fourth year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she is majoring in agribusiness. She has become involved in the Cal Poly Agri-Fair Program, which has allowed her to study and participate in the California fair industry. Cheyenne was selected as a Blue Ribbon Intern at the Western Fairs Association conference in 2012 and aspires to a career in California fair management. She returns to the Valley whenever she can, and is always happy to volunteer her time to help out local organizations, from helping with Farm Bureau events to judging the Round Robin at the Fair, and much more.