After the San Diego County Fair was cancelled the county fair board made the decision to hold a virtual market livestock show, and the Don Diego Scholarship Foundation which administers scholarships associated with the county fair interviewed applicants by Zoom teleconference but still awarded scholarships for 2020. Faith Hanna of Japatul 4-H raised the supreme grand champion market hog, and the scholarship recipients included Mountain Empire High School seniors Jerry Snow and Rachael Gilmore.
Snow, who lives in Descanso, was awarded a $1,000 Future Farmers of America Scholarship. Gilmore also lives in Descanso and received a $1,000 Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship. Hanna’s pig won its weight class and was also 4-H grand champion as well as supreme grand champion.
The market livestock show entrants uploaded a 90-second video which allowed allow the judges to view the animal in various positions. Each species of large animal is divided into weight classes. The classes are based on the number of entrants rather than by pre-determined weights. Hanna raised a pig which won the weight class for 4-H swine between 230 and 250 pounds.
The 4-H or Grange weight class champions and reserve champions compete for 4-H or Grange grand champion and 4-H or Grange reserve champion while the Future Farmers of America weight class champions and reserve champions compete for FFA grand champion and FFA reserve champion. Hanna’s pig was selected as the 4-H grand champion while a hog raised by Kylie Konyn of 56 Ranchers 4-H became the 4-H reserve champion after winning the class for pigs from 271 to 299 pounds.
The 4-H or Grange grand champion, the 4-H or Grange reserve champion, the FFA grand champion, and the FFA reserve champion compete for the supreme grand champion and supreme reserve champion distinctions. Haley Attig of El Capitan FFA raised the FFA grand champion pig while Zachary Padilla of Ramona FFA had the FFA reserve champion hog.
The virtual awards ceremony took place June 25. Hanna received supreme grand champion market hog honors while Konyn’s pig was given supreme reserve champion distinction.
The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation has seven categories of scholarships. “They’re just so engaged in what they do, and it just brings me back to so many terrific memories,” said Don Diego Scholarship Foundation board of directors chair Juanita Hayes.
Hayes was born in Iowa. When she was three her father obtained a job with Hormel and the family moved to Austin, Minnesota. During her youth Hayes spent time with family members on farms in Iowa and Minnesota. “The majority of my relatives were farmers,” she said.
Only a Future Farmers of America member can receive one of the FFA Scholarship awards while either a 4-H or FFA member can be given a Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship. This year the Don Diego Scholarship Foundation awarded four students FFA Scholarship grants and six students Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship funding.
“We couldn’t do this kind of thing if it wasn’t for our donors,” Hayes said.
A Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship recipient must have entered an animal in the county fair’s market livestock show, and it must have placed high enough to earn a blue ribbon and go to auction. That requirement to show an animal and qualify it for auction can have been fulfilled in a previous year. The FFA scholarship requires the student to have entered a competitive exhibit at the county fair which could include the dairy goat show, breed shows, or garden show as well as the market livestock show. Last year Snow had a 111-pound lamb on the auction block and Gilmore utilized her Sagebrush 4-H affiliation to send a 1,218-pound steer to auction.
Snow plans to attend the University of California, Davis and study engineering. Gilmore will be pursuing animal science studies at Reedley College, which is in the Fresno County town of Reedley.
Normally the students who receive scholarships are honored at a gala during the San Diego County Fair. The 2020 recipients may be honored during the 2021 county fair, although a decision has not yet been made on that possibility.