Locals get rowdy for youth, ag education

The Tulare County Foundation for Ag Education and Youth hosts annual fundraiser celebrating the Pitigliano family for their contribution to ag education, youth

TULARE COUNTY – In wild west fashion, a local family farm is to be honored for their commitment and generosity toward supporting youth and agricultural education.

The Tulare County Foundation for Ag Education and Youth will be hosting their annual fundraiser on Saturday March 25. Attendees are invited to come dressed inline with the Wild West theme to celebrate this year’s “iconic family farming operation,” Pitigliano Farms. In addition to celebrating the Pitiglianos, attendees are invited to raise money for local Tulare County youth agriculture programs through a live and silent auction as well as donations. The event will be held at the Happy Trails Riding Academy located at 2773 East Oakdale Ave. in Tulare. Charlie and Nancy Pitigliano said it takes everyone to help build a community, and they are happy to be a part of that. They are incredibly honored to be recognized.

“I have just always liked to give to people and help people that I can help,” Charlie said. “And I have a lot of friends to back me up, and I could call and have them help with groups that need help. Other than getting this award, I was kind of shocked if they would even think about us.”

According to board president Geneva Shannon-Orlopp, the decision to honor the Pitiglianos was an easy one. She said the foundation continues to thrive because of families who are as supportive as the Pitiglianos. According to a release from the Foundation for Ag Education and Youth, it was a unanimous decision by the board to choose the Pitigliano family. Charlie and Nancy Pitigliano’s generosity to support youth and agriculture education is evident throughout the community according to the foundation.

The Pitiglanos’ have been supporting the Foundation for Ag Education and Youth since it was first created. They have both sat on the board a few times in the past as well, according to Nancy. With their continued support and the support of others in the county, it is possible for the foundation to financially support the youth of Tulare County.

“The community is so much behind us on everything we do or try to do,” Charlie said.

Nancy then added that without the community and their family they would not be where they are.

“Our family is getting the award, but I mean, it is definitely a group project,” Nancy said. “You know, a lot of times if we’re off, one of us is off at a meeting or at a function, and the other ones pitch in and get the work done and make it so that we can all participate and it takes that.”

Both Charlie and Nancy have been involved in all things ag for some time and Charlie said it all began with Nancy. She has been involved in a multitude of things including California Women for Agriculture and she was the first female president of the Tulare County Farm Bureau. Though Charlie said he has not been as involved as much as his wife has been, he has still been quite involved in the community. He was even the first president of the Tipton Kiwanis Club.

Charlie and Nancy have three boys who are following in their parents, grandparents and great grandparents footsteps as fourth generation farmers on the same land. The Pitiglianos have expanded their farming operations since Charlie’s grandparents first began the operation several generations ago. What started as grape and dirt farming on 450 acres, has since expanded to almonds, pistachios, farm management and more on over 14,500 acres owned and farmed commercially. Their hope is that their children and grandchildren will continue to follow in their footsteps carrying the legacy. And Nancy said she already sees some of that now.

“I think our three sons and daughter in laws and grandchildren are following our example by being active in their communities, in their schools and showing animals, contributing to educational programs helping out with FFA,” Nancy said. “Definitely, they are all three very involved now.”

Each year the foundation is able to offer more and more financial support to 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) students in Tulare County because of the support of families and farm operations like Pitiglianos.

After taking a break from in person events due to covid, last year was the foundation’s first time they held the fundraiser fully in person and according to the release, it made a strong comeback. The foundation hopes to host a repeat performance this year again with the help of the local agriculture community. The foundation invests any money raised at the fundraiser back into the community by donating it to various agriculture programs, grants and projects.

The Ag Education and Youth Foundation emphasizes assisting 4-H and FFA students who participate in raising, caring and exhibiting at the Porterville and Tulare County Fairs. This past year the foundation dispersed over $60,000 in grants to 180 students throughout Tulare County. The students who received grants, sold animals at the Porterville and Tulare County Fair. In addition, the foundation supported a six week Jump Start program hosted by the Tulare College of the Sequoias providing 15 scholarships to High School Seniors who showed interest in agriculture related trades.

Concluding the 2022 calendar year the foundation supported Saucelito FFA Middle School program and Imagine U Children’s Museum. The volunteer Board of Trustees continues to generate funds to reinvest in the youth of Tulare County through programs that promote youth and agriculture.

To purchase tickets, donate an auction item, or receive more information about the foundation visit www.tcagyouth.org or call 559-901-7840.

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