Fresno State agricultural business alumna Annie Stuhr didn’t grow up on a family farm, but the beauty and intrigue of the surrounding farmland in her hometown of Los Banos made her choice of major easy.
That decision not only led to a degree in 2004, but also a rewarding career in the financial sector and countless long-lasting relationships.
Now, she is able to reconnect those passions as the new president of the Ag One Foundation that raises funds for students and programs in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State.
“I am excited to work with Ag One and the Jordan College in a new way,” Stuhr said. “Scholarships are a key resource that I want students to have better access to today, so they can focus more on their classes and internships. Ag One also helps connect area industry to the college, which gives students a more applied learning experience so they’re better prepared once they graduate. The University Agricultural Laboratory is also key to the hands-on learning environment. Working to help find ways to connect industry partners to the laboratory is also a top priority of mine and Ag One’s.”
Through her professional ties with former Ag One president Debbie Raven, Stuhr was invited to first join the board in 2016. Since she was elected as an officer in 2017, Stuhr has served one-year terms as its secretary, treasurer and vice president.
Stuhr is also closely tied to the agricultural community as the agribusiness market manager for Central Valley Community Bank in Fresno.
Overseeing a five-person team, the company’s agriculture lending portfolio serves growers and companies throughout the Central Valley, the nation’s leading agricultural area, from Lodi to Kettleman City. Clients are involved with a wide range of commodities that include almonds, olives, pistachios, cherries and other cropos and processing facilities.
She looks forward to the chance to connect even more with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the ag community for her one-year term through Ag One’s network of outreach engagement programs.
“Fresno State was a key influence for me,” Stuhr said. “There are people I have met that will be lifelong friends through my connections with Fresno State and Ag One. I continue to use things that I learned in classes as an ag lender, from farm budgets to site visits and underwriting loans. One of my professors, Dr. (John) Hagen introduced me to my first boss, Jim Fuller, at Anderson Clayton, which was the start of my ag lending career.”
Other faculty like Dr. Dwight Minami and Dr. James Casey were equally important in helping her plan a career path.
“Dr. Minami invited me to join the ag business club, and those trips across the state to wineries and packing houses reaffirmed my interest in the field and gave me a foundation for my career,” Stuhr said. “Dr. Casey had high expectations of all his students so it pushed me to be my best, especially in his farm management class.”
Creating new opportunities for others is a shared goal for her and Ag One. Since 1979, the foundation has endowed nearly $24 million in funds for scholarships and support of faculty and programs. In scholarships alone, some 4,600 students have received more than $6.9 million in support over the years. For the upcoming academic year, another $850,000 is projected to help students in 2020-21.
Stuhr has also been an active Ag One supporter as a board member for the Common Threads Luncheon, an annual event that honors area women who have made significant contributions in the agricultural industry. She is also a former board member of the Ag Lenders Society and Kerman Covenant Church and has volunteered at the Fresno Rescue Mission’s Rescue the Children campus.
Her deep ties to the agriculture community and its future extend to her family. Her husband, Garrick, is an agricultural education instructor at Mendota High School and enlists her help in area FFA and youth agricultural events.
“Volunteering often leads to instrumental relationships,” Stuhr said. “Even though I didn’t come from an ag background, the Jordan College and the ag industry has been so accepting of me. I am honored to be able to work directly with farmers committed to feeding the world. My husband and I made sure that our four sons understood what it meant to be raised in the Central Valley, where their food comes from, and how hard people work to put it on our plates.”
Stuhr replaces Bill Purewal, who completed his one-year term on June 30.
Other current Ag One Foundation board officers include:
· Jim Razor, vice president (Corcoran, J.G. Boswell)
· Stanley Kjar, Jr., treasurer (Fresno, Pearson Realty)
· Roger Isom, secretary (Fresno, California Cotton Ginners / Western Agricultural Processors Association)
New members on the 23-person board of directors include:
· Nick Biscay (Madera, Stanislaus Farm Supply)
· Carrie Gahvejian (Fowler, Mid Valley Packaging and Supply Company)
For more information on the Ag One Foundation or to become a member, visit www.agonefoundation.org or call 559.278.4266.