This year marks the 50th anniversary of a high school program that has helped launch many careers in agriculture: the Future Farmers of America Cotton Judging Contest. It will also mark the first year of the Central Coast Cotton Conference benefit golf tournament to be held Nov. 28 at the Rancho Canada Golf Club in Carmel, Calif. The tournament will be held on the second day of the conference, which will be Nov. 27-29 at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa in Monterey, Calif.

To honor the accomplishments of the FFA program and its student participants, cotton conference organizer Becky Zelinski, teamed up with FFA Cotton Judging Contest Director, Bruce Roberts, to try to raise funds for a college scholarship for a high school cotton judging contest winner.

“Being that this is our 50th anniversary, we are trying to make this year’s contest a hallmark event,” Bruce Roberts said. “It’s a new concept we’re trying to establish so we can recognize a student who wants to pursue higher education in any aspect of agriculture.”

The FFA cotton judging contest will be held Nov. 3 at California State University, Fresno. Roberts said there would be 12-15 teams competing from around the state. He emphasized the importance of the event and the agricultural community supporting students who want to pursue an agricultural-related career.

“FFA continues to be an important feed for institutes of higher education of students who want to pursue agriculture,” Roberts said. “There are tremendous opportunities for production, consulting, teaching, and all aspects of ag.”

The focus of this year’s meeting is: The Perfect Season: Managing for Maximum Yield and Quality. This is the fifth anniversary of the meeting and the fourth golf tournament; however, this is the first year the tournament has been a fundraiser.

“I wanted the tournament to have a cause to hopefully get more peopled involved with both the tournament and the conference,” Zelinski said. “Ag scholarships are especially important right now because colleges across the country are seeing declines in students entering ag-related degree programs.”

The tournament proceeds will be used to fund a scholarship for a division winner who will be pursuing an agriculture-related career. The scholarship will be awarded upon the winner’s acceptance into a qualified degree program at the college or university of his or her choice. The winner will be recognized at the conference in Monterey at the evening reception on Nov. 28. Sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and on the award plaque. The sponsorship deadline is Nov. 1 and the player registration deadline is Nov. 20.

Zelinski said the amount of the scholarship would depend upon the success of the tournament.

“There is a sponsorship to fit every pocketbook and a spot for every player so there’s no reason to not get involved,” Zelinski said. “Just by playing you are helping contribute to a worthy cause.”

Zelinski said registration for the conference and tournament has been slow so far but she’s still hoping for a good turnout. The conference preregistration deadline is Nov. 12.

“With cotton acres on the decline, as well as support for the California cotton industry in general, this is a pivotal year for the conference. We hope everyone in the industry will get involved so we did our best to make it easy. We’d like everyone to attend the entire conference; however, they can also participate in the tournament by playing, sponsoring or making a cash or prize donation.”

To register or get information about the conference or the golf tournament, visit www.cottonconference.com or call 805-239-8200.