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FRC foundation just wants to have fun and do good

Feather River College held a joint board of directors and foundation meeting Dec. 12. Russell Reid, foundation vice president and Agriculture and Equine Studies Department chair, was wearing a different cowboy hat that day. Running the meeting in the absence of foundation president, Kris Miravalle, he told the FRC board of directors, “We have way more fun than you guys.”

A highlight of the meeting, besides Russell’s stand up-worthy humor, was the rundown of the foundation’s scholarship program. Karen Pierson, foundation executive director, explained that applicants for the foundation scholarship need to “show an interest and investment in their community,” must be enrolled in six units or more, and must show financial need. The foundation board increased the scholarship fund this year from $7,500 to $12,000. The scholarship committee reviewed 40 applications and awarded $1,000 scholarships to 12 students.

The foundation also disburses Osher scholarships, which are funded by the California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment and the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Back in 2008, Osher offered to match any community college whose foundation came up with $20,000. FRC met the challenge, with their $20,000 donors at the time including the Agriculture/Equine Department, Bill Peters, Bob Schoensee, George McNulty, Larry Gonsalves, Max Benton, Pat Buckner, and Phil Johnson. Dr. Michael Bagley, who was then chair of the foundation scholarship committee, sought out those original donations according to Pierson.

Currently, the Osher scholarship funds nine $1,100 scholarships yearly. Applicants for this scholarship must have “completed 24 or more degree-applicable units at the time of the initial scholarship disbursement,” according to Pierson. They also must be California College Promise Grant recipients. In addition, priority is given to applicants who can demonstrate financial need. Finally, grantees must be enrolled at least half-time in each semester during which they’re receiving the award.

Last year, J.P. Harrison, a foundation member and long-time supporter of FRC’s agriculture program, donated $20,000 to the Agriculture department. Harrison has been in the agriculture business for 40 years and owns Green Gulch Ranch in Sierra Valley. The newly formed foundation Agriculture Scholarship Committee decided they would have each student competing for scholarship funds explain “how they would contribute to the agriculture business community,” said Pierson. The department plans to award grants of $250 to $750 beginning in January 2020.

Finally, the foundation offers mini-grants to faculty and staff. These were also increased to $12,000 this year. The grant is open to all faculty and staff members, and they can apply for up to $1,000 twice a year. Pierson said the foundation is interested in funding “anything that directly helps students,” such as instructional materials, and program improvement. Mini-grants have recently been awarded to the child development program, several sports programs, environmental science, art, social justice, journalism, the hatchery, and the incarcerated students program, among others.

In other foundation news, Nancy Gambell reported for Lisa Kelly on numerous fundraising efforts, including Groundhog Day, Star Follies, the welcome week concert, Dancing with the Stars, and more. Gambell said that many of these events were used as a platform for selling items from the college’s 50th anniversary. She reported that the 50th anniversary was a successful campaign and that everyone was surprised the college had been here for 50 years.

According to Reid, everyone knows about it now. He generously offered to buy the remaining 50th anniversary glasses in order to send the celebration into the annals of memory, “where it truly belongs.”

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