SACRAMENTO — Young farmers from Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties have been awarded top prizes for agricultural achievement and excellence as well as their commitment to the California Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program.
Mark Avilla, a farm manager for family walnut orchards in Stanislaus County who has engaged with state legislators on agricultural issues and used his multimedia skills in encouraging students to pursue farming careers, is the winner of the YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award.
Avilla, of Modesto, was also honored with the YF&R Star Member Award for his contributions to the program. A graduate of Kansas State University, where he studied agricultural communications and journalism, Avilla served as president of the Stanislaus County YF&R Committee from 2019 to 2021.
Jacob Samuel, an almond and walnut farmer from San Joaquin County who also helped develop his family’s dried-fruit brand into a top seller of unsweetened cherries on Amazon, is the winner of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award.
Samuel, a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a resident of Farmington, is part-owner of Shade Tree Farming, which he helped found in 2016. He also helps manage walnut, cherry and almond production for the family-owned Samuel Farms and has played a key marketing role in the family’s dried-fruit business, Sunrise Fresh.
In other awards, the Kern County YF&R Committee took home the Committee of the Year Award. The Sonoma-Marin YF&R Committee was honored for Harvest for All projects in collaboration with local food charities. The Napa County YF&R Committee won the Most Innovative Event prize and the Gold Country YF&R Committee won the top award for Community Involvement.
The awards were announced at the 105th California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, which was held in Reno this year in conjunction with the California YF&R State Conference.
The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 29,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of 5.3 million Farm Bureau members.
–California Farm Bureau