WATSONVILLE—Paddy Smith Park at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds was abuzz with activity Wednesday for the 2021 National Agriculture Day Luncheon.
Originally scheduled to coincide with National Ag Day on March 23, the event was postponed to allow Covid-19 restrictions to loosen and more attendees to be vaccinated.
National Ag Day began in 1973 with the formation of the Agriculture Council of America, and every year communities across the U.S. celebrate in different ways. The Ag Day Luncheon, organized by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau (SCCFB) and Watsonville-based nonprofit Agri-Culture, acts as a local observance.
Wednesday’s event brought together local farmers and ranchers, educators, industry leaders and other community members to celebrate the role agriculture plays in the county and the Pajaro Valley, while enjoying a healthy, locally-sourced meal.
Master of Ceremonies Arnett Young, President of SCCFB, welcomed guests and thanked them for their support.
“The National Ag Day program believes that every American should understand how food is produced and the role that agriculture plays in our strong economy,” Young said. “We also want young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture. By far, the most effective part of this program is the role you play in helping spread the word.”
The featured speaker of the event was Dr. Nan Mickiewicz, President/CEO of Dominican Hospital, who spoke on “Celebrating the Spring and the Vaccine!” Dominican was awarded the Al Smith Friend of Agriculture award for their leadership in vaccinating county farmworkers.
The event’s annual Poster and Poetry contest winners were also acknowledged. Oliver Nakazawa Hewitt, a third-grader from Delaveaga Elementary School won the poster contest and Alme Shelby, a seventh-grader at Wavecrest, Santa Cruz Montessori School won for their poem “The Little Farm.”
The poster and poem will be featured on placemats in local restaurants, and used for next year’s luncheon.
Four scholarships were awarded this year. Anisa Velasco, a senior at Watsonville High School who plans to attend Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and study animal science, won the Jimmie Cox Memorial Scholarship. A Special Award was given to Hayden Michael Mennie, an Aptos High School graduate who has been attending Cabrillo College and plans to enter Fresno State University to study agricultural business.
Cole Margarite-Donart, a UC Santa Cruz student majoring in plant science was the recipient of the JJ Crosetti Jr. Memorial Scholarship. The Laura Brown Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Henry Danner, a Scotts Valley High School graduate currently attending Cal Poly and studying animal science and music.
As one of the first major community events to be held since the pandemic, the luncheon sold over 170 tickets, with sponsors raising over $12,400.