Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau


From an idea over dinner to a nationally recognized program, the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau’s Blue Jacket Bonanza Program has changed many lives.

In 2007, Executive Director Teri Bontrager of the county Farm Bureau was watching local FFA students at fundraisers and fairs when she noticed that many of the local students did not have their own FFA jackets. After some research she found that 84 percent of northern Santa Barbara County students participate in the free and reduced-price lunch programs at their schools, and she realized there were many students in need.

“As a mother of four sons, with part of their formative years as a single mother, I knew the struggles that families faced providing the bare necessities for their children, and felt I had to find a way to help get jackets on the FFA members. Knowing the importance of agricultural education to the future of the industry, what better way to help preserve that future than giving them a chance to earn their own jacket?” Bontrager said.

In 2010, while having dinner with former Farm Bureau board member Ernie Righetti and Johannah Bradley, Bontrager shared her thoughts on the needs of local FFA students and introduced the idea of the Blue Jacket Bonanza Program. Then the three enthusiastically worked out the details.

The Blue Jacket Bonanza program was developed to provide area FFA students the opportunity to earn their own blue jacket. To be granted a jacket the students are required to complete an application process that includes an essay, personal interview and community service.

“FFA helps the next generation rise up to meet tomorrow’s challenges. Its members explore their interests and develop their own unique skills and talents through FFA programs. By helping to prepare the leaders of tomorrow, you’re guaranteeing a brighter future for us all,” Bontrager said.

“I wish I had adequate words to describe the look on the FFA members’ faces when they receive “their very own” blue jacket. It’s pure joy filled with pride because they earned their jacket.”

She said several students have told her that FFA saved their school careers and having the chance to earn their own jacket gave them the extra push to stay in school and in the FFA program. In 2011, Blue Jacket Bonanza was recognized by the American Farm Bureau Federation as a County Activity of Excellence.

For more information on the Blue Jacket Bonanza Program, call the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau at 805-688-7479 or email them at farmsbc@hwy246