EL CENTROÂ â€”Good news for future agricultural college-bound students as the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a 100% match, up to $57,100, for all qualifying scholarships with the 2016 Agricultural Benefit Program Scholarship during Tuesdayâ€™s regular board meeting.
A variety of local farm organizations compiled scholarshipÂ information forÂ the Supervisors Agricultural Benefit Scholarship Match. To qualify for this match, the scholarship must go to an Imperial County student, and the organizationâ€™s scholarship criteria must show that it is majoring in agriculture or a closely related field.
â€œResponses were received from several organizations,â€ explained Connie Valenzuela, agricultural commissioner. â€œThe written scholarship announcements and criteria for each organization were collected and reviewed to ensure that the scholarships met the requirements for a match from the Agricultural Benefit Scholarship Program.â€
According to Valenzuela, in 2015, a 100% match to $45,400 was approved, however $38,000 was distributed because students changed their majors or did not enroll for the semester, so the original scholarship was rescinded along with the match.â€
â€œThe reasons for this yearâ€™s increase, is that some organizations gave out more money than they did last year, they raised more money and gave more money, and additional organizations presented qualifying scholarships for consideration for Agriculture Benefit matches,â€ said Valenzuela.
The Board established the Agricultural Benefit Program to mitigate losses inÂ agricultural production, jobs, and our local economy resulting from renewable energy development on county farmland. Agricultural education and scholarships were targeted areas of the funds.
District 4 Supervisor Ryan Kelley expressed concern regarding timely notifications distributed to schools districts and organizations advising of the scholarship availability.
â€œLast year it was very short timing getting all of the school districts and organizations to know that we were going to do this,â€ said Kelly. â€œIt seems like you (Valenzuela) got a lot more interest and participation.â€
Valenzuela informed Kelley proper announcements were distributed on March 29, and again on May 17, advising of a deadline to submit forms of June 20.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Castillo suggested bringing this item back to the board at a later date to reconsider the awarding process to maximize the number of community members benefiting from this program.