PAST -Cattlewoman Of The Year
MARGARET AVILA - 2018
Margaret, is a California native, born in Paso Robles in 1932. Margaret’s mother, Marie Bordes, came to this country from France, in 1901. They settled in Colusa, California. Marie Bordes married Joseph Labarere, who came at an early age to the United States, in 1884. Joseph Labarere became a sheep herder, traveling from Reno, Nevada to Los Angeles and made his way north to Bradley, California. He raised sheep and later became a cattle rancher.
Margaret tells of life growing up on the ranch with her mother, step-father and brothers, “My two late brothers, John who lived to be 93, and Henry, who was in the Navy and died in January of 1946, and I were all raised on the Labarere Ranch, originally known as the Alvarado Ranch. The Alvarado Ranch was purchased in 1899. As children, my brothers and I, learned to ride horseback, milk the cows and many other childhood memories. In the summertime, we would walk down to the Salinas River, a place where we learned to swim.”
Margaret was educated at San Ardo grammar school, King City High School and Healds Business College in San Francisco. After graduation, she began secretarial work at the Salinas Valley Fair – that’s where she met her future husband, Sam Avila. They were married for 55 years. Sam passed away in 2005.
After they were married, Margaret and Sam started ranching at Salispuedas Ranch, which Margaret says translates to “Get Out If You Can!” The Salispeudas Ranch and the Avilas have a substantial history. It was owned by Sam Avila, Sr., whose father, Cipriano “Cip” Avila was a packer and guide. Cip’s father, Vincente Avila, had explored the Lucia and Coast country and lands, settling at Salispuedas in 1864.
Margaret and Sam had their first three children there; Linda Padgett, the late Valarie Bassetti, and Joanne Willis. Later on, they added to the family with four more children: Gary Avila, Vivienne DeVaul, Jeff Avila and Sam Avila. By then they had moved to the San Ardo Ranch and, later to the Labarere Ranch, which is now commonly known as the Avila Ranch. It is where Margaret lives today. The family now includes 18 grandchildren and 15 greatgrandchildren. The whole family was actively involved with both the Salinas Valley Fair and theMid-State Fair.
Margaret became a member of the Monterey County CattleWomen’s in 1965, where she served as President for 2 years; 2nd and 1st Vice President for a total of four years, and Director for many additional years. She has many great memories of those years, “One of my fondest memories of that unit was advocating at the Cow Palace, where Jae Eade and I, along with other Cowbelle members, spoke with 4th and 5th grade students and their teachers from San Francisco about cattle ranching.”
Margaret joined the San Luis Obispo CattleWomen’s in 1987. She has been a director since 2014, and served on numerous committees including: McLintock’s 4th grade field trips, Paso Robles 4th grade Field trips, SLO 4th grade field trips, Cattlemen and Farmer’s Day at the Mid-State Fair server, Fashion Show at Madonna Inn and Casino Night. Margaret worked not only at the local level for CattleWomen’s, but also at the State level becoming the California State Cattlewomen’s President for 2 years, and 2nd and 1st Vice President for four years.
Margaret Avila embodies all that is admirable about the local cattle industry and its people. Margaret says that, “My life with the CattleWomen’s has been a long and exciting time. I have visited each unit throughout the state and met many wonderful people along the way, creating lifelong friendships.”
The ranches of California’s Central Coast produce superior cattle. San Luis Obispo CattleWomen support the local, state and national promotion through beef promotion and education.
Acknowledging her many accomplishments, friendship, dedication, and commitment to the cattle industry, her fellow CattleWomen and Cattlemen and the entire community – it is clear why the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen have chosen Margaret Avila to be the 2018 CattleWoman of the Year.
Fran Pritchard - 2017
Fran Pritchard was born and raised in San Francisco along with her two brothers and a sister. After marrying her husband, Chuck, they moved to San Luis Obispo, where he was attending Cal Poly as a Farm Management Major. Since they would eventually be living on a ranch Fran decided that taking Ag related courses would be the thing to do. She attended Cal Poly part time, since her prior experience with livestock was that of visiting the buffalo in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and an occasional horseback ride on her uncle’s ranch.
Upon graduation in 1962 she and her family headed east to the Carrisa Plans in eastern San Luis Obispo County with their two sons, Craig and Don. Initially, this new life style was intimidating and somewhat of a culture shock. The transition however was easy because of a very welcoming community. A few years later a third son, Jeff and a daughter Paula were born. They farmed wheat and barley in the beginning, later switching to running a commercial Brangus Cattle operation.
Fran’s involvement in the farming endeavor constituted of cooking for a crew for 10 years, running down parts in town (50 miles from the ranch), the unending cleaning and burning of thistle, etc. The cattle however, were more complex, interesting and fun. She was now doctoring, pulling an occasional calf, feeding hay on those freezing winter mornings and loving those newborn calves.
Fran attended her first SLO County Cattlewomen’s meeting (aka Cowbelles back then) in the 80’s. Today, she is still involved with the organization because she believes in the philosophy of educating our youth about the “good life” in agriculture and feels that the cattlewomen embody that. Fran presently is a member of the board of directors, chaired the merchandizing committee for several years, has served as a delegate, assembled baskets for CCW luncheon, participated in the annual AGVenture, and volunteered for Cattlemen’s Day at the Ca Mid State Fair.
When Fran is not volunteering for CCW or all the other organizations she is part of, Fran loves to spend time with her four children, 15 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Susan Cochran - 2016
I was raised on the western edge of the Carrisa Plains, by my parents Bob and Alberta Lewis. I had a great childhood on the ranch with my siblings Georga, Albert and Robert. We worked a lot of cattle, rode many horses, hoed lots of weeds, built miles of barb wire fences and still had to take of the daily chores like shoveling manure, feeding and checking water. It was a great childhood!
When we were of age our parents drove us to Shandon for 4-H meetings; we all had steer projects. The 4-H leader joked with my parents, “Susan is a little brushy!”. These “brushy” days didn’t last long once my parents purchased the Templeton Livestock Market (1963). This was a family endeavor I was fortunate enough to work alongside my immediate family and when we needed someone really tough we even got to have my grandfather, Al Stone, come show the rough stock who was boss.
For high school I was a Greyhound living in the dorms at Atascadero during the week and back to ranch on the weekends. Following high school I made it a little further from the ranch and attended Cal Poly where I graduated from with a BS in Home Economics.
Upon graduation I moved to King City and was head bookkeeper for Salinas Meat Company, a slaughterhouse in Soledad. From there I transitioned to Fat City Feedlot in Gonzales. I was so lucky to only be a short drive away from the ranch to help work cattle on weekend and at the sales yard.
At the age of 28 I married Cal Poly classmate, Bill Cochrane, and we moved to Salinas. Salinas was a good half way point from the ranch and his family’s orchard in the Central Valley. We started a family shortly after, three girls in eighteen months! Ann was born first and then fraternal twins, Kate and Jane. I was a very busy stay at home Mom but managed to carve out time while the girls were at school and evenings for landscape designing. The weekends and summers were filled with ranch work; alongside my parents and siblings.
By the year 2010 all three of our daughters had graduated from Cal Poly and went to fulltime employment in Agriculture. Bill and I were fortunate enough to relocate to the Paso Robles area and become full time ranchers. Bill is officially retired from the Operating Engineers but still gets to operate plenty of heavy equipment for rangeland improvements.
I am very honored and humbled to be chosen the as the 2016 CattleWomen of the Year. I couldn’t be happier being involved at the state and national levels of the CattleWomen and Cattlemen; I plan to keep that tradition alive with my family.
Ann Cochrane - 2015
The 2015 CattleWomen of the Year was is Ann Cochrane. Ann is the daughter of Bill and Susan (Lewis) Cochrane, a sixth generation Californian and, when the drought ends, a fifth generation cattle rancher. Ann joined the SLO County CattleWomen when she started attending Cal Poly in 2003. In 2004, she represented the CattleWomen as their Beef Ambassador. She quickly became active at the Board meetings as a representative of the Cal Poly Young Cattlemen’s Committee. As a member of the Committee she served as a State Cattlemen’s Convention Intern, lobbied with the California Rangeland Trust and attended many state and national conventions. In the summer she worked for many livestock shows and auctions including the California State Fair, the California Mid-State Fair, the Monterey County Fair and the Santa Barbara County Fair in addition to helping out on the family ranch. Ann has also been a riding member of the Cowbelle’s Trail Ride for the past ten years and helped host the 50th Anniversary ride at the Navajo Ranch in 2012. She currently serves as the President of the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen.
Aside from CattleWomen’s Association, Ann is also a member of many other organizations including The Rotary Club of Paso Robles, Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Tour Committee, and the California Women for Ag. She supports The Studios on the Park, the Central Coast Cancer Support Community and California Cattlemen’s Association Political Action Committee.
Lorraine Cagliero - 2014
The San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association is pleased to share the accomplishments of county native Lorraine Cagliero, and honor her with the CattleWomen’s Association 2015 CattleWoman of the Year Award.
Lorraine has taken a family heritage with deep roots in the area and, through her work and dedication to ranching, community and family, grown a legacy for generations to come. She was born to a pioneer family west of Templeton, the daughter of Lawrence and Ruby Jespersen. As a young girl, her family had a Grade B Dairy on Los Osos Valley Road. In 1954, her Dad and Uncle purchased an alfalfa ranch north of Paso Robles and leased two other properties. Lorraine says, “Life was simple but good.”
In 1956, the Cagliero Family purchased the ranch across the road from the Jespersen’s. Five years later, in 1961, Lorraine married Pete Cagliero, and, “moved across the road.” In the following 40-plus years, she and Pete built a life around ranching and raising the three children they were blessed with: Dena, Jon and Phillip Cagliero.
At the Cagliero Ranch, now known as the Slash C Ranch, they managed a cow/calf operation, grew alfalfa and harvested grain.
In 1986, that they purchased 3,000 acres in Vineyard Canyon, which is known as the Vineyard Wildlife Ranch. The ranch produces alfalfa, grain and forage hay and has a cow/calf operation. The ranch also has a private hunting club - the Slash C Hunt Club. The ranch is historic, the friars from the San Miguel Mission planted the first vineyard in 1797 to provide wine for the communion at the Mission, which is how Vineyard Canyon got its name. The friars also made tile and Adobe bricks from the soil on the ranch.
Lorraine has been a CattleWoman for 37 years; served on Cuesta College Foundation Board; French Hospital Foundation Board, and has been involved in special projects at the San Miguel Mission. She has chaired and helped with many fourth grade field trips, fashion shows, beef cook-offs and fundraising projects.
In 2004, Pete passed away. Lorraine and Pete raised their children well in the ranching and farming tradition. Each of them (John, Phillip and Dena) raised 4-H beef and all three children graduated from Cal Poly, as did their spouses (Samantha, Tracy and, our son-in-law Steve Price).
The Slash C Ranch is now owned by their son, Jon Cagliero and his wife, Samantha. At the Vineyard Wildlife Ranch, Jon does all the farming and Phillip does the accounting.
The ranching life is now being instilled in yet another generation. Lorraine has five grandchildren. Except for the youngest (who is not yet old enough to compete), they all have shown 4-H steers, heifers and lambs Lorraine says she, “Loves supporting the young people”, and indeed there has been a lot of support - the family has purchased animals at the Mid-State Fair Auction for more than 50 years — a tradition that continues.
As might be expected of a true cattlewoman, Lorraine enjoys the Black Angus cattle, which she describes as “beautiful”; loves hosting the family’s annual cattle brandings and seeing all the grandchildren and family in the ring. They end the day with a barbecue — as she says it’s all about “neighbors helping neighbors.”
In addition to watching the grandchildren grow up, Lorraine says her favorite pastimes are traveling, entertaining, gardening and the beach. In a humorous nod to the ranching and viticulture roots, she says the family motto is: "Eat beef and drink wine!"
She says that she is, “Very grateful to have made many wonderful friends through CattleWomen.” In recognizing Lorraine Cagliero as the 2015 CattleWoman of the Year, the CattleWomen’s Association says on behalf the organization, and all of San Luis Obispo County, that they have been fortunate and are grateful to have a friend and supporter in her.
Lorraine Clark - 2013
The 2013 CattleWomen of the Year was is Lorraine Clark. Clark, a Cal Poly graduate, raises hay and cattle in Creston with her husband, Don, and their two children. She is best known for bringing the interactive agriculture learning event, Great AGventure, to fourth-graders countywide. Since its inception in 2003, the event, originally funded by a state grant, has served more than 13,000 local fourth-grade students in San Luis Obispo County. It’s continued in recent years through local sponsors. Clark has served with the Cattlewomen Association since 1999. She’s helped with field trips, highway cleanup, scholarships and served as Beef Promotion Chair. When asked what her hobbies are, Clark said in a statement: “My kids!, gardening, riding horses, hiking, camping, fishing, drinking coffee, eating chocolate and just hanging out with the animals!”
Carla Young - 2012
This year’s San Luis Obispo County CattleWoman of the year was born and raised in Templeton. Carla Petersen Young’s ancestors settled in the Templeton area in the early 1900s and were very deeply involved in agriculture. Her grandfather, Vincent Rossi, started a dairy which his family ran until the 1950s. In the early 1940s her father, Richard Petersen, helped convince a landowner to lease his property to the late Walter Goodell to build a sales yard which is now the Templeton Sales Yard.
Petersen's parents Richard and Mae Petersen raised Shetland ponies for more than 25 years. Petersen, along with her brother, Carl Petersen, and her, sister Kay Ellen Martinelli, participated in the everyday operation of caring for the ponies. They traveled all over the western United States showing them at such places as the Fort Worth Stock Show and Del Mar. The Petersen Pony Farm was one of the largest and most well-known breeders in the United States.
Petersen was a member of the Templeton 4-H where she raised and showed market lambs at the Mid-State Fair. She had the Grand Champion lamb on two different occasions. After graduating from high school she attended Saint Luke’s School of Nursing and became a Registered Nurse.
She and her late husband ran a commercial Hereford/angus cow/calf operation in Yolo County. They also raised and showed cutting horses.
Upon returning to Templeton in 2004, she joined SLO Co. CattleWomen and became a very active member, first serving as Historial and then Fundraising Chairman, which is dedicated to raising funds for beef promotion and scholarships. She has been extremely active in all phases of the group including Field Trips at McLintocks, Beef promotion Father’s Day at Spencer’s Market, The Great AGventure, Fundraising, Highway Cleanup, SLO Co. Cattlemen and Farmers’ Day, Beef Ambassador Contest, Cattlemen’s Play Day, CattleWomen’s Pioneer Day Roping and many other activities. She has attended numerous State and National Meetings serving as a voting delegate. She was very involved in starting the fashion show in 2008 at A. J. Spurs and then moved it to Madonna Inn in the fall of 2009. She also serves as a Director on the Board.
With her busy schedule, Petersen still finds time to enjoy her cutting horses both raising and showing them and serving as a volunteer at Twin Cities Community Hospital, American Legion Auxiliary, Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Assn., Cal Poly Rodeo Boosters, and Miss Rodeo California.
Petersen has two sons, Cary Beck and Joel Beck, four stepchildren and nine grandchildren.
It is easy top see why Petersen Young was chosen by the board to be SLO Co. CattleWoman of the Year for 2012. Congratulations Petersen for your outstanding leadership and dedication to our organization.
Darlene Rotta - 2011
This year the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association is very proud to honor Darlene Rotta as their CattleWoman of the Year. The award was presented to Darlene at the Cattlemen and Farmers’ Day, at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.
According to friends and peers, Rotta has been a dedicated and devoted member of the SLO County CattleWomen since she joined the group in 1986.
When Rotta retired from teaching she returned to her roots at her family’s ranch, Rotta Ranch situated in Huasna Valley, located southeast of Arroyo Grande. Her grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Italy. Rotta and her sister Jean specialize in the sale of Angus range bulls.
In 1957 Rotta left her family’s ranch to pursue a career in education after graduating from San Jose State with a degree in physical education. She would go on to teach for a whopping three decades.
According to friends, Rotta began her first four years in the field at Ripon Union High and the last 26 years at San Lorenzo Valley High. She taught a range of subjects including physical education, English, math, library, reading, driver’s education and typing.
Darlene was born to Sam and Annie Rotta in Santa Barbara, then moved to Santa Maria when she was very young. Her family lived on a dairy until she entered her junior year in high school. When her parents bought a cattle ranch in the Huasna Valley, the family relocated for good.
Both Darlene and Jean are charter members of the first 4-H Club in Santa Maria. Darlene was also a Santa Barbara County All-Star and held club offices. In addition she showed dairy cattle, steers and lambs per Farm Bureau officials.
According to friends and family, Rotta’s pride and joy was raising one of the first 4-H guide dogs in the state. Her dog was the K-9 Valedictorian of her class. Rotta and her family enjoyed attending the graduation and meeting the guide dog’s new owner.
Darlene has served as Membership Chair of the SLO CattleWomen for six years, working to build the group to have the largest state and national membership. Fellow members stated that due to Rotta’s firm dedication to CattleWomen in the cattle industry, she was selected as Cow Belle Mom last year.
Darlene found her special place in CattleWomen by helping with fourth-grade field trips at three locations: Paso Robles, Madonna Inn and F. McLintock’s. Fellow members said that when Rotta first started she was told that one class did not come to the field trip because the children lacked discipline. Rotta reportedly used her teaching experience and worked hard to convince the teacher to allow the fourth-graders to attend the event. As the story goes, the teacher agreed and the group now participates every year. Darlene has served as Event Chair for twelve years and said she’d like to thank all of the people who continue to help her with the project annually.
Another educational area where Darlene donates her time centers on helping with The Great AGventure sponsored by the San Luis Obispo County Agriculture Education Committee. Rotta has worked at the educational Paso Robles based event for fourth-graders for several years.
Friends say Darlene would do anything to help kids, whether it comes down to giving her time or helping the youth earn money for scholarships. Friends also sang Rotta’s praises when it comes to local county fairs, where she is known as a great supporter of children during auctions and livestock activities.
According to her peers, “Darlene says cattle work is in her blood.” Congratulations Darlene! -story adapted from the Paso Robles Press, article dated 7/27/10
Chris Jennings - 2010
This year the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association is very proud to honor Chris Jennings as their CattleWoman of the Year. The award was presented to Chris at the Cattlemen and Farmers’ Day, at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be chosen,” Chris said. “I grew up in the cattle industry, and it’s been a good opportunity to give back to the community , the county and to educate people about positive aspects about the beef industry.”
Jennings, a member of the CattleWomen for eighteen years, has chaired the Beef Ambassador contest, Environment and Animal Care committee and currently serves as Chairperson for the Grants and Scholarships committee. She has also served on the SLOCW board of directors since 1994.
Besides being active in the cattle industry all her life, Jennings has also played an active role in education. Educating the public about beef safety, beef by-products and all aspects of the beef industry,, Jennings volunteers numerous hours to educate the county’s elementary school students during the CattlWomens’ fourth-grade field trips and the Agriculture Education Committee’s Great AGventure held each October.
Jennings was born in California and raised in east Paso Robles by parents Dough and Jan Edwards, along with younger brothers Tim and Toby and younger sister Holley. She graduated from Paso Robles High School in 1985 and Cal Poly in 1990.
While at Cal Poly, Jennings was involved with the Bull Test, the Escuela Cow-Calf Project and many other Beef Unit activities. She graduated with a degree in Animal Science. She landed her first industry job at Loomix in Arroyo Grande and for the past seventeen years Jennings has been employed at the Farm Supply Company in San Luis Obispo as a Purchasing Agent and Pest Control Advisor.
Shortly before graduation from Cal Poly, she met Neal Jennings and they were married in 1992. Chris and Neal made their home and are raising children in Atascadero.
-story adapted from the Paso Robles Press, article dated 7/28/09
Staci Truelson - 2009
This year the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association is very proud to honor Staci Truelson as their CattleWoman of the Year. The award will be presented to Staci, at 6:45p.m.at Cattlemen and Farmers’ Day, Thursday, July 24, at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. The awards ceremony, beginning at 6:45p.m., will include the presentation of the awards for Cattleman, CattleWoman and Agriculturalist of the Year.
Staci joined CattleWomen in 1992 and has been very active ever since. She has been involved with all aspects of the organization including helping with beef promotion, education, fundraising, and attending the State CattleWomen’s Conventions. She has held the office of Secretary for the past two years.
Staci, a sixth generation Californian, was born in 1968 in Santa Maria, CA. At the time, her parents, Jim and Justine Dunn were living in Santa Maria and planting a lemon orchard in Nipomo. By the time her brother Jim Jr. was born, the family was living on the lemon orchard, steps from Justine’s childhood home, on the same property where three of her aunts and uncles still live. During their childhood, the Dunn family began to lease some nearby land and raise a small cow-calf herd. The operation was expanded to include a lease of US Forest Service land near Pozo, where the family ran their stockers. Staci and Jim Jr. were introduced to the ranching way of life, and the lessons stuck. The family eventually moved to Morro Bay when their dreams of owning their own ranch were realized in 1977. Jim, Justine, and Jim Jr. still live on the working ranch and Staci is still an active part of the operation.
Staci attended St. Patrick’s Grammar School in Arroyo Grande until the family moved to Morro Bay for her 6 th grade year. That year, she attended Morro Elementary, followed by Los Osos Junior High School. Staci graduated from Morro Bay High School in 1986. After high school, Staci attended Cal Poly State University, and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science in 1990. After Cal Poly, Staci went to Fort Collins Colorado for graduate school. While in Fort Collins, she returned home for the summer of 1991 to marry her husband, Erik Truelson, whom she had known since their days at Morro Bay High School. After the wedding, they returned to Colorado, and Staci received her Master of Science Degree in Animal Science in 1992. Following graduation, Erik and Staci returned home to the Central Coast.
Staci was always interested in Agriculture Education, and worked as the San Luis Obispo County Agriculture Education Committee staff for three years. During that time, Erik and Staci welcomed their first son, Tanner, in 1996. When he was three, they decided it was time for Staci to be with him full time, and five years later their daughter Tyler was born in 2001.
Since coming back from Colorado, Staci has been a very active part of the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen, and has chaired the Beef Lead committee, the Agriculture Education Committee, and the Casino Night committee. She has also served as Historian and Newsletter Editor. She was a Director from 1998 to 2006, and took over the role of Secretary in 2007. She is also a member of the San Luis Obispo County CowBelle Trailriders, where she currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer. For the past two years, she has been attending CattleWomen meetings at the State level and has enjoyed getting a different perspective of our industry. She has been active in many other aspects of the organization, but her favorite projects involve kids and beef education. She was a presenter at the Fourth Grade Field Trips for thirteen years, and has been involved in the San Luis Obispo County Agriculture Education Committee’s Great AgVenture since it began in 2003, as well as many school Agriculture Days over the years.
Besides CattleWomen, Staci is active in many aspects of the community in San Luis Obispo. She has been a 4-H Beef Leader and is a volunteer at Old Mission School, where her kids will be in first and sixth grades in the fall. She has coached soccer, basketball, and indoor soccer over the years. She is an active member of the Los Padres Soccer Referee’s Association where she serves as Secretary, and is currently serving as Regional Commissioner of American Youth Soccer Organization Region 599 in San Luis Obispo.
Staci is excited to receive the CattleWoman of the Year for 2008 and to have the guidance and friendship of all of her fellow CattleWomen. She is honored to follow in the footsteps of previous CattleWomen of the Year, including her mother, Justine Dunn.
Alberta Lewis - 2008
In 2008, the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association is very proud to honor Mrs. Alberta Lewis as their CattleWoman of the Year. The award was presented to Mrs. Lewis at 6:45p.m. at the Cattlemen and Farmers’ Day on Thursday, July 26, at the Mid-State Fair.
Alberta joined CowBelles, now CattleWomen, one year after the organization was formed in San Luis Obispo County. She is one of the original CowBelle trail riders and she worked very hard to get an annual ride started. She has been involved with all aspects of the organization from helping with beef promotion, working at the mid-state fair booth, and attending the State CattleWomen’s Convention. She was honored as CowBelle Mom of the Year and held the office of President of the local CattleWomen’s association. Today, she is an active member as she serves as a member of the board of directors and attended the 45th CowBelle’s trail ride held earlier this year.
Alberta, a fourth generation Californian, was born in 1928 in Salinas, Ca. In late 1928, her parents, Al and Aleen Stone, and her sister Pat, moved to the Carrisa Plains. They drove all their cattle and horses to the Bitterwater Rd. ranch in Carrisa Plains from San Ardo, and arrived to see the plains completely covered in snow. On their ranch, Alberta became a very skilled rider at an early age and would meet her dad Al and help him drive the newly purchased cattle from the train station in McKettrick over the Temblor Range to the Painted Rock.
The family eventually moved to Santa Maria, and she attended St. Mary’s Grammar School – which was quite different than the one room school house on the Carrisa Plains. Alberta attended Santa Maria High School and continued to be very active playing on all the girls’ sports teams. Her good grades permitted her to be let out of school to help in the fields during the war. She graduated from high school in 1947, and excitedly attended her sixty year class reunion in July.
After high school, Alberta attended Santa Maria Junior College and became a member of the debate team. After Santa Maria J.C., Alberta went to Santa Barbara Business College, returning home on the weekends to help out on the ranch.
Alberta met Bob Lewis, from Carrisa Plains, while working at the Santa Maria high school track meets. In 1949, Bob and Alberta were married at St. Mary’s Church in Santa Maria. When Alberta wasn’t in her garden she enjoyed riding, dancing with Bob, tractor driving, and ranching on the Carrisa Plains. They had their first child, a daughter, Georgia, while living in Pozo.
In 1950, the Lewis family was given the opportunity of a lifetime to purchase the Navajo Ranch, located on the edge of Carrisa Plains. It took Bob, Alberta, and Georgia just two pick-up loads to move to the Navajo Ranch where they were blessed with three more children: Susan, Albert, and Robert.
In 1963, they purchased the Templeton Sales Yard with Alfred Santos. The sales on Saturday were thriving and often weren’t over until the early hours of Sunday morning. After moving to Atascadero in 1969, Alberta realized how much work it took to keep up two houses. They sold the sales yard in 1973, and moved back to the Navajo Ranch.
In 2005, Alberta was crowned the 2005 Pioneer Day Queen and Bob the Grand Marshall. This marked the 75th Anniversary of Pioneer Days and was the first time a husband and wife were crowned together.
Alberta and Bob were fortunate enough to enjoy their four children and ten grandchildren together for fifty-seven years. Alberta still resides at the Navajo Ranch and most of her children and some of her grandchildren still participate in the operation. She is also very proud to say that there are three generations of the Lewis family that are still active members in the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association.
Besides the CattleWomen’s Association, Alberta is active in the Republican Women’s organization and San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau. She has also been a member of the SLO Co. Grand Jury.
Alberta is honored to receive the CattleWoman of the Year for 2007 and to have the friendship of her fellow CattleWomen.
June Kester - 2007
The San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s association is proud to announce June Kester as the 2007 CattleWoman of the Year. June was raised in the cattle industry since the time of her birth to George and Jean Silva in San Jose, California. George Silva owned and operated the Trophy Meat slaughterhouse in San Miguel before becoming a cattle buyer. He covered almost all of the United States before settling down in Hornbrook, California, in the early 1970’s. June moved from Paso Robles to Hornbrook at that time to attend Yreka High School for three years before returning to graduate from Paso Robles High School in 1976. While attending Paso Robles High School, she lived with her stepfather Floyd Schroeder and mother Jean Schroeder in the Kiler Canyon area of Paso Robles.
In 1983 June made plans to move back to Northern California. Those plans changed when Kevin Kester hired her to do day work as a horseback rider and cook for the crew on the Bear Valley Ranch in Parkfield. Ten months later they were married. Today, they own and operate the Bear Valley Ranch where they live with their three children, Kayleen, 19, Kody 17, and Kara, 9.
June has kept very active in her community as a 4-H Horse Leader, school volunteer, youth group advisor, and by organizing events to assist others. She is a Charter Board Member and Secretary of the California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation, and has been a member of the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen’s Association since 1983, the year of her marriage.
June has served as a CattleWomen committee chair for Beef Promotion, Publicity, School Field Trips and Casino Night. She initiated the Harris Ranch Beef Sampling Booth at the California Mid-State Fair, which in 2000, won the Walt Rodman Award for outstanding Beef Promotion awarded by the California Beef Council. She has been a CattleWomen Director for more than 12 years, and is the current Public Relations Chairwoman. She is also a member of the Monterey and Fresno/Kings County CattleWomen. June continues her love of horseback riding on beautiful ranches in the area and as an active member of the San Luis Obispo County Cowbelles since 1992. At the State Level, June is a past second Vice-President of California CattleWomen and is currently the Vice-President of the California CattleWomen Heritage Foundation. She also is serving a one year term as the California Ag in the Classroom Committee Chair from 2001 to 2002.
The Kester family raises cattle, kids, and grapes in Parkfield, known as the “Earthquake Capital of the World”. Kevin is the current President of San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen, but both he and June are most proud of the fact their ranch is truly a family operation where all the cattle work is done by them and their three children.
Colleen Hayes - 2006
We are pleased to announce that The San Luis Obispo County CattleWoman of the Year for 2005 is Colleen Hayes. She has served on numerous committees, including fourth grade field trips. She has been beef promotion and membership chairman and is currently second vice-president.
Colleen is the fourth generation of her family to carry on the agricultural tradition of the Carrisa Plains. Her maternal great-grandparents located on the Plains in the late 1880s and their large house served as the stage stop, post office and boarding house for visitors to the area. Her late grandfather, Elmer King, was born on the Plains in 1898 and with his brother, Walter, pioneered the first irrigated farming in the 1940s. Colleen’s mother, Kathleen, and aunt Elinore grew up on the American Ranch, which is now part of the Carrizo Plains National Monument. After the family home burned down on the American Ranch, Elmer and Frances King purchased the current King Ranch lands near Simmler, where they farmed and had a small cow-calf operation. They also had a small herd of sheep and pigs. Much of the surrounding property is still owned by descendants of the King and Cooper families. Colleen’s father, Edwin Cooper, came to the Carrisa Plains as a young boy in 1930 to join his older brothers, Rowland, Alfred and Maurice Cooper, in their ranching. Colleen attended the two-room Carrisa Plains Elementary School. All eight grades included two people in her class; the other person being her cousin, Deanna Cooper Tomasini. Later while attending Atascadero High School, Colleen lived in the dormitory as did her mother and aunt. The “dorm” was provided by the school district, as it was too far to commute every day.
Colleen and her husband, Gordon, reside on a portion of the original ranch where Colleen grew up. They raise cow horses and hay and also operate their custom bit and spur business. Their son, Wade; and daughter-in-law, Susan; with two grandsons, Ian and Reed; live in San Miguel. Son Clint lives in Templeton and daughter Staci lives in Santa Monica. Both sons are active in the agriculture community and Staci works in the movie industry.
Colleen loves the rural life, the outdoors, promoting the beef industry, spending time with her family, gardening and riding cutting horses. Congratulations, Colleen!
Terri Woods - 2005
The San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen are pleased to announce Terri Allen Woods as their choice for 2004 San Luis Obispo County CattleWoman of the Year.
Terri Woods has been a member of the CattleWomen for over 12 years. She was county president, and has served as 1st vice president, 2nd vice president, director and Beef Ambassador Committee chair. She also has chaired or co-chaired the Cattle Ranching Field Trips, Fair Booth, Internet and Publicity committees, and has assisted with the Pioneer Roping, Scholarship, Ag Task Force, Casino Night, and Scrapbook projects. She is proud to have helped win the California State Beef Council’s Walt Rodman Award for Best Beef Promotion Project, with the San Luis Obispo CattleWomen’s Internet Project, the Harris Ranch Beef Pre-Cooked Meal Sampling at the California Mid-State Fair, and this past year’s project – sending beef jerky to our troops overseas as part of Operation Care Package. Terri is also active at the state CattleWomen level by currently serving as the Beef Ambassador chair, as a charter member and director of A California CattleWomen’s Heritage Foundation 501(c)3, and as the former publicity chair.
Terri Allen Woods was raised 90 miles north of Elko, Nevada, on the Jackson family’s Petan and Silver Creek ranches where her father, Ray Allen, managed the horse division. Educated through the eighth grade at a one-room ranch schoolhouse, she was active in FFA and on the rodeo team at Elko High School. Her parents moved to California in 1972, where they managed the Jackson’s horse racing and farming divisions in Santa Barbara, as well as the cattle on the Alisal Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley. Ray Allen is a longtime member of the Cattlemen’s Association, and is a current director of San Luis Obispo Cattlemen. He is also the 2004 Honorary Vaquero for the Santa Barbara Fiesta Rodeo. Terri’s mother, “Mike” Allen works for the California Mid-State Fair, and is the secretary for San Luis Obispo CattleWomen. Terri has one sister, Vicki Penwell, a missions pastor and the director of the international Mercy in Action School of Midwifery based in Boise, Idaho; and one brother, Braig Allen, manager of Old English Rancho, a major thoroughbred breeding and racing facility near Sanger, California.
After graduating from Santa Barbara High School, Terri attended Cal Poly for a year before going to work full time in law enforcement. Her first job was as a dispatcher/matron at Carpenteria Police Department before her career took her to Fairbanks, Alaska, and Jackson, Wyoming, for several years. Participation in law enforcement rodeos led to marriage and a move to Austin, Texas, where her daughter Kate was born in 1985. Unfortunately, the marriage was brief and Terri moved back to California with her two-year-old daughter to live near her parents in Paso Robles. Kate graduated from Paso Robles High School and is now a college student at the Mercy in Action School of Midwifery, finishing her degree by spending the next year at a maternity clinic in the Philippines.
After a law enforcement career which had included duties as a dispatcher, jailer, patrol assignments and responsibilities as a hostage negotiator and trainer, Terri went to work for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department as a civilian employee. Her current position is a rural crime prevention specialist, working with agricultural interests to prevent and reduce crime through education and training. She has been on the board of directors of the California Rural Crime Task Force and coordinates the Sheriff’s Citizen Academy.
Terri has enjoyed her time away from work and CattleWomen duties as well, by spending some time as a 4-H group leader and church youth group leader. She is now very active at her church, Mercy Vineyard in San Luis Obispo. Personal interests are still riding and competing when time allows, and helping to gather and brand cattle when asked. She says that the best times of all are spent with daughter Kate, family and friends-and being able to give back to the industry which raised her by contributing a little bit to the great work that CattleWomen do to educate and support our young people and consumers about the benefits of beef and of the cattle ranching industry.
Jean Rotta - 2004
The San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen is pleased to announce longtime rancher and devoted beef industry advocate Jean Rotta as the 2003 CattleWoman of the Year. Without question, Jean has served as an instrumental member to the CattleWomen organization for over 30 years and is more than deserving of this award.
Together with her sister, Darlene, the two work as managing partners of the Rotta Ranch, a family owned and operated cattle operation in the Huasna Valley, 15 miles southeast of Arroyo Grande. Here at the 2,000-acre ranch, Jean and Darlene specialize in the sale of Angus range bulls for various customers throughout the Central Coast. Jean has now lived at the ranch for a total of 51 years.
Born in Santa Barbara, Jean was raised on her parent’s dairy farm in Santa Maria, raising calves and participating in the 4-H Club at a young age. In her mid-teens, the family sold the dairy farm and relocated to the Huasna ranch, where they first became involved in crossbred Herefords and later Black Angus beef cattle. The family has now operated in the sale of Angus bulls for over 50 years.
In many ways, Jean has served a pioneer for women in agriculture. In 1956, she attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as part of the first co-ed class ever admitted to the college – later receiving her bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry. In 1976, she was also among the first class of women to participate in the renowned two-year California Agricultural Leadership Program.
A former president of the SLO County CattleWomen (1975-1976), Jean has been an active member for over 30 years, serving as a director numerous times and assisting in countless committees. Currently, she is president to the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau’s Range Improvement Association.
Jean jokingly says that her family hasn’t yet been able to “get rid” of her because of her unwavering love for the ranching lifestyle. The San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen thank you, Jean, for your many years of dedication and service for the organization as well as the beef industry.