SALINAS, Nov. 12, 2020 – The California Ag Leadership Foundation’s (CALF) Profiles in Leadership Award, which recognizes Ag Leadership Program alumni for their leadership actions resulting in the betterment of industry, community, business, government, education and/or the environment, was awarded to Craig (5) and Sara Jane Underwood, Holly King (24) and Rich Peterson (25).
“We could not be more proud or inspired by this group of leaders,” said CALF President and CEO Dwight Ferguson. “The impact they’ve made, and continue to make, on agriculture in California provides tremendous examples to all of us.”
Craig (5) and Sara Jane Underwood offer a wide variety of farm-related activities and events designed to educate the public about their sustainable farming practices while cultivating a relationship between customers and farmers. They are known for sharing their love of community through education, outreach and as generous donors.
“Sara Jane and I are honored to be recognized by CALF,” said Underwood. “The organization has contributed so much to the California farming industry and influenced me greatly. I vividly remember the many varied lessons we learned in traveling and sharing—many of those stretched me outside my comfort zone. It would be hard to enumerate all the interactions that opened my eyes.”
Holly King (24) worked for 20 years in agricultural lending and as director of agricultural programs for the Great Valley Center. As chair of the Almond Board of California (ABC), she worked with industry leaders and the United States Department of Agriculture to secure two rounds of trade assistance to help offset losses due to tariffs imposed by China. She also oversaw the creation of ABC’s Almond Orchard 2025 Goals which serve as a roadmap for continuous improvement in the industry in the areas of water, pest management, air quality and zero waste.
“I am humbled, honored and elated,” said King. “Leadership is a responsibility—people depend on you. It is an opportunity to enhance lives. What could be more gratifying? Leadership is not always easy; the going can get tough and that is when people learn what you are really made of.”
Rich Peterson (25) served as executive director of the California Prune Board for 25 years. Following retirement, he organized a world congress for the International Prune Association for more than 100 people from seven prune-producing countries. He has served in leadership positions for many organizations that support the distribution of food to those in need including, PlacerGROWN, the Food Bank of Contra Costa, the Placer Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul. He also volunteers at local Stand Downs—events organized to provide vital services, such as food, shelter, clothing and health screenings to homeless and at-risk veterans.
“I’ve always had compassion for people in need,” said Peterson, “But Class 25’s trip to India, Pakistan and Nepal inspired me to become more proactive. This experience led me to expand my outreach with a focus on leadership positions in my church and nonprofits. Ag Leadership showed me how to apply my skills in improving the lives of the disadvantaged in my community.”
The California Ag Leadership Foundation operates the California Ag Leadership Program, which is considered to be one of the premier leadership development experiences in the United States. Since it was first delivered in 1970, more than 1,300 men and women have participated in the program and have become influential leaders and active volunteers in agriculture, government, communities, business and education.