In 2020, as the uncertainties brought along by a global pandemic increased, the Hartnell College Foundation reached out to the Tanimura Family Foundation for a special request: to turn internship opportunities into scholarships for transfer students.

Due to the pandemic, the number of internship placements was greatly limited. Simultaneously, students facing financial hardships were faced with the decision to postpone their transfer to a four-year university.  Dean Clint Cowden became aware of this acute need among students at the Alisal Campus.  He reached out to the Hartnell College Foundation for possible solutions to address this need.  

The Tanimura Family Foundation became the Hartnell College Foundation’s partner in this solution.  They were flexible with their endowment, which allowed Hartnell to redirect the funding to meet an immediate need during the pandemic. Hartnell College is deeply grateful to the entire family and to Kerry Varney for their exemplary and responsive and caring philanthropy. Twelve Students became Tanimura scholars and are on their way to achieving their baccalaureate degree at several universities around the state.

“The mission of the Foundation is to encourage education,” said Kerry Varney, executive director for the Tanimura Family Foundation. “We want to give back to the workforce so their children can get educated and perhaps come back and work for Tanimura & Antle in an administrative position.”

Ag leader and philanthropist, Gary Tanimura, said that for his family, the vision has always been to help the Latino community. “Because of their hard work, our family has done well,” he said. 

Thanks to their vision, 12 scholarships were given to transfer students through the 2020-2021 Tanimura Family Foundation Emergency COVID Ag Scholarship for Transfer Students. These $1,000 scholarships came at the right time for the recipients.

For Miguel Gomez, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Plant and Soil Sciences at Cal State University Monterey Bay, this was a blessing.

“This monetary assistance alleviated a couple inevitable bills that began to pile up during this pandemic,” Gomez said. “Please rest assured, this money was well invested because spent is not the right word and I really appreciate it.”

Angelita Cisneros also appreciates receiving this much needed emergency scholarship.  She was able to access reliable internet and secure housing all while attending classes, completing school work, and participating in an agricultural internship at the Chico State Agriculture Department. “I have plans to return to the Salinas Valley to contribute to the agriculture fields and hopefully improve cultivation methods,” said Cisneros.  “In addition, I wish to encourage and uplift the low-income and first-generation youth in our community as they pursue their education, just as the Tanimura Family did for me through this scholarship.” 

“The Tanimuras are the most generous, the most kind, the most loving, the most down-to-earth, and humble people you will ever meet,” said Varney. “They love to help people.”

The Tanimura family established The Tanimura Agricultural Research Internship Endowment in 2012.  This fund has provided dozens of students the opportunity to do a full Summer Internship at an ag research center.  Every intern is diligently prepared to learn from leading ag scientists and practitioners for eight weeks.  The ag internship program was founded by Dr. Carolee Bull, a huge champion of Hartnell College’s Science, Technology and Engineering and Math program and a former USDA research station scientist.  The USDA research station is located next to the Alisal Campus, the home to The Center for Advanced Technology, the 3-year bachelor’s degree program in Computer Science (CSIN3) program, The Ag Business and Technology Institute, the NASA aerospace lab, and state-of-the art welding, diesel and auto tech programs. 

The Tanimura Family Foundation is comprised of a multigenerational committee who value the work of those in agriculture. They do not have a formal application process and only consider those organizations doing work to improve the lives of field workers and their children.