FRESNO, Calif. — The first John and Carol Salmonson Scholarships for Excellence in Agriculture were awarded recently at Cal Poly. The Salmonsons and Brandt, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty agriculture products, funded the scholarships for students in the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Both students are first-generation college students.

Omar Alexander Gonzalez Benitez is studying agricultural and environmental plant sciences, and Kristen Fernandez is majoring in agricultural and environmental plant sciences. Each student received $10,000.

“Carol and I are thrilled to be a small part of helping these two deserving students pursue their dreams. Both Kristen and Omar are outstanding students who, I’m sure, will be leaders in the ag field one day,” said John Salmonson. “We are very fortunate to have partnered with Brandt on this scholarship. We believe strongly in helping bring along the next generation.”

The scholarship will be awarded for four more years. It was established in 2016 by matching grants from John and Carol Salmonson and Brandt.

Applicants are open to students in the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Successful applicants must be California residents, demonstrate academic success and have financial need.

“We helped fund this scholarship as a way to say ‘thank you’ to John and Carol for all their years of service to Brandt and for building Monterey AgResouces,” said Rick Brandt, CEO and president of Brandt.

“It says a lot about John that giving back to deserving students at Cal Poly was the thanks that meant the most to them. They are just extraordinary people who built a great company. And I’m proud to say that Omar and Kristen are extraordinary students.”

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