A scholarship fund has been established through the Imperial Valley Farm Bureau in memory of Vern Highley, a former administrator under three secretaries of agriculture. Highley died earlier this year in Fresno.
Highley was president of Highley Associates, a federal relations firm founded in 1985, in Washington, D.C. The firm relocated to Fresno in 2000.
He represented various organizations including Cotton Growers Warehouse Association, National Watermelon Association, Imperial County California and the Imperial Valley Conservation Research Center. He began his career in agricultural marketing when he served on the executive staff of Calcot. He later became special assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin and eventually served as deputy chief of staff for Secretary Earl Butz. He returned to USDA in 1982 as administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service under John Block.
He spent his early life in Imperial Valley and attended high school in Holtville, Calif. He graduated in 1956 from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He was honored as Cal Poly Alumnus of the Year in 1974.
Long time friend Don Brock, an Imperial Valley farmer, is heading up he scholarship drive.
The goal is to raise $10,000 to fund two $1,000-per year scholarships administered by Imperial Valley Farm Bureau.
“Vern was raised in this area, and represented Imperial Valley at many different levels over the years, always advancing the cause of agriculture. His family is pleased that this effort is going forward, and it will remind us all of his good works, as well as to help raise a new crop of solid farmers and ranchers for the future,” said Brock.