DIXON, CA — Five Dixon and Vacaville students seeking agricultural careers are sharing $10,000 in college scholarships from the Friends of the Dixon May Fair.
The organization, the service-oriented and fundraising arm of the fair, annually awards scholarships to Solano County residents majoring in an agricultural-related field at either a four-year university or a two-year community college in California. Since 2003, the Friends of the Fair, headed by president Donnie Huffman of Vacaville, has bestowed $210,750 in college scholarships.
Carrie Hamel, scholarship chair, announced that Kyle Esquer of Dixon, a student at California Polytechnic State University, is the 2020 winner of the top scholarship, the $3,000 Ester Armstrong Scholarship Award.
Linzie Goodsell of Dixon, a student at California State University, Chico, won the $2,500 JoAn Giannoni Scholarship Award.
At the community college level, Vacaville resident Jared Tanaka, scheduled to attend Modesto Junior College this fall, won the $1,500 Jack Hopkins Scholarship.
Other recipients of Friends of the Fair scholarships this year were Maya Prunty of Vacaville, a student at the University of California, Davis, $2,000; and Haylee Hoffmann of Dixon, a student at Modesto Junior College, $1,000.
Esquer, a 2017 graduate of Dixon High School and a third-year bioresource and agriculture engineer major at Cal Poly, plans to seek a master’s degree in either civil engineering or water engineering. His career goal: a water engineer with an emphasis on irrigation.
Esquer earned his FFA State degree at Dixon High School and exhibited sheep and mechanics projects at the Dixon May Fair. "Agriculture," he wrote in his essay, "is in my blood. My great-grandparents began farming citrus in Southern California after World War II. They then moved to Dixon, where I was born and raised and started farming row crops. They paved the path to my family’s ties with agriculture and I was exposed to farming at a very young age."
“When I was first exposed to agriculture, I was enthralled with tractors and dirt, but when I was much older, I began to appreciate the value of the crop and I now appreciate the importance of water,” Esquer wrote. “Water is essential in the development of the soil and the crop; without water, there is no agriculture.”
Goodsell, a 2019 graduate of Dixon High School and an animal science major at California State University, Chico, plans to become an artificial inseminator for livestock.
“I discovered my passion to study animal science through my involvement in FFA for all four years in high school,” she wrote in her essay. “Not only did I gain leadership skills, but I also had the opportunity of hands-on experience when I raised and showed three sheep at the local Dixon May Fair.”
Goodsell is the first in her family to attend college.
Vacaville resident Tanaka, a 2020 graduate of Dixon High School, will attend Modesto Junior College this fall and major in animal science.
“All my life I have been surrounded by agriculture and involved in a multitude of activities, all of which have influenced me in my endeavors for a career,” he wrote. He credited his involvement in a high school agriculture mechanics courses in high school with “opening my knowledge to welding, gas cutting, plumbing, electrical and metal fabrication.”
He regularly exhibited livestock at the Dixon May Fair, Solano County Fair and the California State Fair and now maintains a herd of cattle.
“I am always devising new ways to improve and develop my cattle herd,” he wrote.
Prunty, a Vacaville resident who graduated from Visions in Education in 2019, is an animal science major at UC Davis. She plans a career as a canine rehabilitationist.
Active in 4-H, she served as president of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club; Solano County 4-H Ambassador; and is currently a California State 4-H Ambassador. Prunty was a regulator exhibitor at the Dixon May Fair, Solano County Fair and California State Fair.
“As a canine rehabilitation therapist, one provides a variety of healing modalities including physical and neurological therapy,” Prunty wrote in her essay. “In this major, I will receive an animal science degree with a concentration in canine therapy to provide a variety of healing modalities to ensure their well-being. My goal after college is to open my own canine rehabilitation facility to provide innovative healing services for pups in my community.”
Prunty credits the 4-H organization and the 4-H motto, "to make the best better," with shaping the person she is today.
“My mentors supported and encouraged me, giving me the chance to reciprocate this guidance,” she wrote. “Whether I am judging a presentation, teaching in a project, leading a workshop, providing community service, or volunteering my time, interning for the UC Davis animal research department or learning new skills as an Aggie Ambassador, I feel I make a positive impact in my community.”
Hoffmann, a 2020 graduate of Dixon High School, is heading to Modesto Junior college this fall to major in agriculture business. Active in the Dixon FFA, she began a new FFA project called “Hoffmann Feed and Supply,” selling feed in Turlock. “This project gave me the experience of what it is like to be an entrepreneur in the agriculture industry,” she wrote. “It taught me how to manage finances, understand fluctuation of prices, have customer relations, and how to manage a business overall.”
Hoffmann’s career plans: “To start my own livestock feed business where I make my own feed and sell it to feed stores across the country."
Friends Of The Fair Scholarships
The Friends of the Fair raises funds from the sale of beverages at the four-day fair and donates the proceeds for exhibitor awards, building and grounds improvements, and college scholarships. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic mandates canceled the Dixon May Fair.
Applicants are scored on personal, civic and academic experience; academic standing; personal commitment and established goals; leadership potential; civic accomplishments; chosen field in the areas of agriculture, Hamel said. Most applicants have experience in 4-H, FFA or Grange, criteria desired not mandated. All applicants must be Solano County residents and must attend college in California, she emphasized.
The annual deadline to apply for the scholarships is March 1. More information on the scholarship application rules is available on the Friends of the Fair site.
The scholarship committee, chaired by Hamel, also includes Tootie Huffman, Kathy Keatley Garvey and Linda Molina of Vacaville, and Marty Scrivens of Dixon. Huffman serves as treasurer of the all-volunteer Friends of the Fair, and Scrivens as secretary.