Seven local women awarded for cultivating community through ag

The Common Threads Award celebrates seven Central Valley women for their efforts in enhancing communities through agriculture, contributions to the ag industry

CENTRAL VALLEY – From Tulare to Fresno, multiple women have received the Common Threads Award for their career achievements in agriculture, as well as their time spent educating and investing in their communities.

Seven women across the Central Valley have been selected as recipients of the Common Threads Award which honors women in agriculture for their contributions to the industry. Among these women was Tricia Stever Blattler, the executive director of Tulare County Farm Bureau, who was the only one to receive an honorary award this year for her community-driven career in agriculture. Blattler and her fellow award recipients will be honored at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Hall on March 1. The honorees for 2023 include:

  • Aubrey Bettencourt, Hanford
  • Holly Rosa, Hanford
  • Juanita Calzadillas-Pedrozo, Merced
  • Lucy Areias, Fresno
  • Nanette Simonian, Fowler
  • Sheri Kanagawa, Hanford
  • Tricia Stever Blattler, Tulare

Blattler’s career in agriculture began in the 2000’s when she became a program coordinator for the California Foundation for Agriculture. However, she would say her career in agriculture started long before that. Agriculture was a large part of her childhood, as she grew up on a walnut ranch in the outskirts of Exeter. 

“I see my role in the community very much intertwined with who I am in my personal life too,” Blattler said, “I care deeply about promoting the stewards of agriculture, and often use my role in the Farm Bureau to help spread awareness about agriculture in my volunteer and personal endeavors too.”

Tricia Stever Blattler-sub

Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director of Tulare County Farm Bureau

Blattler has spent 15 years dedicated to the Farm Bureau, and said that it is very difficult to separate herself from her work, because agriculture is a part of who she is. As the executive director at Tulare’s Farm Bureau, she can often be found at public meetings and events. It’s at these events where she can be a voice not only for the industry, but for her community, according to Blattler. Due to the nature of her career, Blattler said there’s really no way to track the time she’s spent working, as it is a part of her everyday life. 

“I work for extraordinarily hard working men and women that represent the face of agriculture, and their hearts and minds,” Blattler said. “I do my very best to uplift them, and promote, advocate, advance and represent their concerns and needs in my work, and for me work doesn’t stop at the end of the work day, it’s a day in day out passion.”

Blattler has nominated over 15 women for this award during her career at the Farm Bureau, but now, she is an honoree. She was unanimously chosen as the honorary award recipient by the selection committee of Common Threads. The honorary award has only been given out once before to the former dean of California State University, Fresno, Sandra Witte. 

“No matter if we are talking about my job, or my personal life, I embody many values around agriculture and I spend time promoting and enhancing our industry’s reputation and celebrating the hardworking farmers and ranchers we all depend on for our food and fiber,” Blattler said.

Just next door at the Fresno County Farm Bureau, Lucy Areias was also a recipient of the Common Threads award for her commitment to the dairy industry, as well as the many committees and volunteer hours she pours herself into. Not only is Areias on the board of directors at Fresno’s Farm Bureau, but she also helps her family operate their dairy, A&M Farms. They also grow corn, alfalfa and winter forage. Her agriculture background began when she was two when she moved to the United States from her hometown in Terceira, Azores. She grew up on a dairy farm in the Central Valley since then, and has continued a career in the industry.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes we do things in our community and we don’t expect recognition for it,” Areias said. “I was very humbled and very grateful.”

After hearing the news that she was a recipient of this award, she emphasized just how important women are in the agriculture industry. Reflecting on the six other recipients of the award, Areias said she is grateful that there are more women involved in the industry than there were just 10 years ago.

The Common Threads program began in 1997 at Fresno State University, when the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation joined the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and the Ag One Foundation. Their goal was to honor women in agriculture who make a difference in their communities and our world. The Common Threads Award recognizes individuals whose contribution of time, talent and resources have enhanced those around them.

A second Common Threads program was initiated in 2003, in conjunction with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, to expand and develop their mission. While each program maintains specific and unique geographic criteria, the overall award qualifications are the same. Nominees should have past or present roots in agriculture and have shown outstanding involvement within the industry, as well as have made a difference through their charitable giving and volunteerism.

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