2016 Award Winners for Agriculture, Technology

Dan General, Industry News Release

California State Fair announces 2016 award winners for agriculture, technology

State-FairThe California State Fair has announced the recipients of its prestigious awards, including Agriculturalist of the Year. The State Fair annually recognizes the accomplishments and service of key individuals or organizations through a series of awards that are publicly recognized and honored at the Friends of the California State Fair Gala, which will be held this year on Thursday, June 23.

The 2016 Agriculturalist of the Year Award will be presented to Sarbjit “Sarb” Johl. Johl first came to Sutter County from India in 1966, at the age of 13. He began farming with his father in 1976, after graduating from Yuba City High School and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He served as Chairman of the Sacramento Growers Cooperative, a cling peach co-op, from 1986 to 1993 and has also served as a board member of the California Canning Peach Association. He was founding partner of the Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers LLC., a walnut processing and marketing enterprise, and has served as Chairman of that organization since 2006. In addition to serving on the Northern California Growers Association, for 12 years, he has been a Trustee of the Butte-Yuba-Sutter Water Quality Coalition, and is currently the Chairman of the Cling Peach Board.

The 2016 Golden Bear Award is presented to Gail Kautz. A member of the California State Fair and Exposition Board of Directors from 1987 to 1995, Kautz is actively involved in her family’s farming operation, John Kautz Farms, in Lodi, California. She was the first woman Chair of the California State Fair Board in 1993, and received the Ag Progress Award in 1996 for her outstanding contribution to Agriculture. The Ironstone Concours Foundation, which Kautz started, donates $5,000 annually to the California State Fair Scholarship fund. She has consistently devoted her time to several organizations through the years, including the California State Fair Agricultural Advisory Committee, for which she served as Chair in 2006-07. Her active involvement in the agriculture industry has earned her many awards, including Lifetime Honorary Member of the California 4-H, Lifetime Honorary State Degree from the Future Farmers of America, and the California Farm Bureau Bountiful Award. She is also a member of the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The 2016 Agricultural Progress Award is proudly presented to Judy Culbertson, Executive Director of the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. A native of Courtland, California, where she grew up on a 5th generation pear orchard, Judy gained firsthand experience in the industry managing her family’s packing plant. She also worked for the California Farm Bureau, assisting with the development of agricultural education projects and activities prior to joining the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Her current vision for the foundation is to ensure that every student develops an appreciation and curiosity to learn about where their food and fiber comes from. Culbertson is a current member and past chair of the California State Fair Agricultural Advisory Council.

The 2016 Wine Lifetime Achievement Award is granted to G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski. A nationally-known wine educator and consultant, Pooch has devoted more than 30 years to the pursuit of educating consumers and trade members alike in all aspects of the wine industry. He has served as Chief Judge and Consultant to the California State Fair’s annual Commercial Wine Competition and has judged several of the most prestigious wine competitions throughout the country. He is widely regarded as a wine industry expert and has given lectures and seminars on the subject throughout North America. He is also President/Owner of the University of Wine, in which capacity he has trained restauranteurs, wholesalers/distributors, retailers, and winery personnel.

The 2016 Vineyard of the year Award is deservedly bestowed toVineyard 1869/Original Grandpere. Located in Amador County, Vineyard 1869/Original Grandpere is the oldest Zinfandel vineyard in America, as documented in a deed from a U.S. Geological Survey dated in 1869. Initially planted from hardy stock, its ancient vines survived catastrophe inflicted by both man and nature over the course of the ensuing 140+ years. Purchased in 1984 by Scott and Terri Harvey, the vines have been lovingly coaxed back into producing small yields of elegant, complex, first-growth Zinfandel by Scott, a highly regarded California winemaker who was trained in Germany.

The 2016 Technology Champion of the Year, Individual, is awarded to Eric Brown, President and CEO of California Telehealth Network, an organization that increases access to acute, primary and preventive care in rural America. Eric’s 15 years of experience in the cable television industry have included valuable contributions in the field of network affiliate relations and the management of multiple broadband system marketing and operations. He has previously served as Chairman of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association (CCTA) and is a recipient of the prestigious National Cable and Telecommunications Association Vanguard Award for excellence in cable operations. He has also received the cable industry’s CTAM Chairman’s Award for excellence in cable marketing.

The 2016 Technology Champion of the Year, Organization, is awarded to Emergency Call and Tracking System (ECaTS). ECaTS is the first universal 911 Call Reporting System that leverages the ubiquitous nature of the Internet to provide secure, real-time reporting to the 911 industry.  In developing a product that gathers data on more than 350,000 calls per day to produce insights that not only identify the data, but establish how that data was produced, the company has brought private sector business intelligence analytics to the public safety industry, epitomizing the virtues of what it takes to confront the challenges of “Big Data” within the 911 industry.

These awards will be presented at the annual Friends of the California State Fair Gala on Thursday, June 23, 2016. Funds raised from the Gala support Friends of the California State Fair student scholarships. Prior to the dinner and awards ceremony, the Best of California Tasting will feature award-winning wine, beer, cheese and olive oil from the State Fair competitions. To support the celebration please email gala@calexpo.com.

About the California State Fair 
For more than 160 years, the California State Fair has showcased the best of the Golden State. Cal Expo was dedicated as a place to celebrate California’s achievements, industries, agriculture, diversity of its people, traditions and trends that shape the Golden State’s future. The 2016 California State Fair will take place July 8-24.