Which Family Foundation is Grooming California's Next Generation of Farmers?

California student and UC Davis' Junior Master Gardening Project teen leader Rachel Ricchiuto won a national award for her essay, “U.S. Honey: A Taste for Every Preference.” Bryce Corron of Butte County raises swine and assists the 4-H state tech team with film production, website creation, and digital photography workshops. San Benito County's Linnae Rodriguez is a youth member of 4-H's Incentives and Recognition Advisory Committee, and she recently won exhibition awards for “best use of baked chocolate” and “best show of food preservation.”

What do all these bright, young students have in common? They're all 2014 California Delegates to the National 4-H Conference, scheduled to take place April 5-10, 2014.

Joined by three other deserving 4-H members, Paige McConnaughy, Justina Sharp, and Mia Zimmer, these delegates will help develop recommendations for 4-H youth development programs at the national level. And thanks to a generous grant from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, they won't have pay their own way. (Read Leavey Foundation: Los Angeles Grants).

The National 4-H Conference is the Secretary of Agriculture's premier youth development opportunity, bringing together students, volunteer leaders, and staff from across America, the U.S. Territories, and the Canadian Providences. Young delegates, like these six from California, are tasked with the challenges of strengthening youth-adult partnerships in 4-H, exchanging program ideas across state borders, and reminding members of Congress about the importance of 4-H programming.

The Leavey Foundation provides funding for California 4-H delegates to travel to and from pre-conference orientations and the conference itself, as well as all associated registration fees. But this family foundation, currently run by the founders' daughter, doesn't stop there. Leavey provides funding for the following 4-H “Golden Clover” awards as well: 

  • Fundraising Award
  • Innovative Ideas Award
  • Spirit of Citizenship Award
  • Collaboration and Outreach Award
  • Special Events and Activities Award
  • Member Mentoring Award
  • 4-H Member of Excellence Award
  • Emerging 4-H Volunteer Leader Award

Although much of the Leavey Foundation's grantmaking revolves around medical research, education, and Catholic causes, Kathleen Leavey stays true to her family roots. Her father, Thomas, founded Farmers Insurance based on the premise that people in rural communities had different insurance needs that those in urban communities. Although the city of Los Angeles isn't known for its agricultural industry, agriculture is the backbone of many California communities. And thanks to well-established 4-H opportunities like these, the state's next generation of farmers are on the right track.