J.A. and Flossie Mae Smith, legacy donors with The San Diego Foundation, were born and raised on family farms in California in the 1890’s.
As lifelong farmers, the two understood the value that their profession provided in feeding the world, and they also recognized interconnectivity between economic growth and agriculture in California.
California is one of most productive agricultural regions in the world. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California ranks as one of the leading global food producers and provides more than half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States.
Leaving Their Legacy
J.A. often called farmers “the biggest gamblers in the world,” and both he and Flossie Mae had great respect for the hard work and contributions made by California’s agriculture community. They believed strongly in the potential of everyday farmers in alleviating hunger throughout the world.
In 1969, as a gift for their 50th wedding anniversary, a group of friends and business acquaintances provided some “seed” money so they could establish the J. A. & Flossie Mae Smith Scholarship Fund. The purpose of the fund was to provide scholarships renewable for up to six years for San Diego students pursuing agricultural studies.
Over the years, the couple also contributed additional dollars to increase the total amount available in the Scholarship Fund.
Its first awarded was made in 1973 and now, 24 years later, the J.A. and Flossie Mae Smith Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships.
Supporting Future Farmers
One of the recent scholarship recipients from the fund, Jenna Smiley, shared how this scholarship affected her educational plans and career:
“This year, I will be graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in Agricultural Systems Management,” explained Jenna. “Thanks to the J.A. and Flossie Mae Scholarship, I was able to pursue my passion in higher education and will soon start a full-time career as a Crop Supervisor in California.
Having a renewable scholarship was also important to Jenna, as it provided the incentive to keep her grades up to ensure her tuition was covered each year. As Jenna described, “This made working toward my goal and planning my college expenses much easier.”
The steward for this legacy fund, Ray Taramasco, reiterated J.A. and Flossie Mae’s belief that “if they were left alone and provided with water, California farmers large and small would be able to go a long way to feeding the nation and the world.”
Today, Jenna and countless other youth in the region are carrying on the Smith’s legacy of feeding the world.
If you have an interest in investing in the future of our region by helping young people like Jenna, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Danielle Valenciano
As Director of Community Scholarships, Danielle and her team make higher education dreams a reality for hundreds of San Diego students each year. She serves donors who seek to support the educational aspirations of students and families who apply for scholarships each year. Danielle works closely with applicants to match their needs with funding opportunities, and taps the talents of the many volunteers who support the scholarship program.