Agriculturalist of the Year Award

Bill and Carol Chandler, owners of Chandler Farms

In celebrating the tradition and innovation of the State’s number one industry, agriculture, the California State Fair Board of Directors, upon the recommendation of the Agricultural Advisory Council, selects Bill and Carol Chandler as the Agriculturalists of the Year.

The Agriculturalist of the Year award is presented to an individual or individuals who have contributed extensively, in a professional capacity, to California’s agricultural industry. Award criteria stipulates the individual or individuals must have demonstrated leadership and clearly represented the industry over a number of years in one or more of the following areas: finance, government, production agriculture, education, labor, research, communications, trade and public service.

As a couple, Bill and Carol Chandler, contribute to the education and growth of the agriculture industry by serving the farming community in a variety of roles. Each in their own right continue to serve at local and statewide levels. Their peers recognize their commitment and leadership.

“They are a dynamic couple who have demonstrated a true commitment to not only farming, but to family and their community,” said Cathleen Galgiani, State Senator.

“They truly are an unmatched duo when it comes to participating in leadership roles to articulate the value and need of the marvelous bounty of food, fiber and fauna that our state produces,” said Barry Bedwell, California Agriculture Leadership Foundation.

Bill is a third-generation farmer in Fresno County. Bill and Carol grow grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines and almonds on the family farm in Fresno County which was founded in the 1880s by Bill’s grandfather, W.F. Chandler. Their sons, John and Tom, recently joined the family farming business.

Bill, a graduate of the University of California, Davis in Agriculture Production has had a long history of involvement in California agriculture. He has served and continues to serve and be recognized on a number of boards and commissions over the years, including:

California Association of Winegrape Growers, Nisei Farmers League, Fresno County Farm Bureau, California Cling Peach Advisory Board, Freestone Peach Association, California Fresh Fruit Association, U.C. Davis Foundation Board, U.C. Davis Fresno County Alumni Scholarship Chair, Cal Aggie Alumni Association Director, and U.C. President’s Agriculture Advisory Committee.

A graduate of Class 6 of the California Agriculture Leadership Program, Bill is also involved in his community as a board member of the Sequoia Council of Boy Scouts of America and is the recipient of the Silver Beaver award.

Carol is a partner in Chandler Farms. Carol is actively engaged in the business administration portion of the farming operation. Prior to joining the family farm, Carol taught in the San Joaquin Valley, including Fresno City College. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Davis, and her Master’s Degree from California State University, Fresno.

Carol is a past State President of California Women for Agriculture, a member of the Board of Directors of Western Growers Association, Fresno State Board of Governors, the Central Valley Community Foundation and American Agri-Women. She is also a member of the CSU Fresno Water Task Force and serves on the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Carol previously served on the California State University Board of Trustees, University of California Board of Regents, California Post-Secondary Education Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Emerging Markets, Grape & Tree Fruit League, and the Fresno County Fair Board.

Recognized by the California State Legislature as Woman of the Year in 1992 and 2002, Carol has further been acknowledged for her outstanding contributions to agriculture and education as the recipient of the Tapestry Award presented by Common Threads for outstanding achievements in agriculture, and as the Agriculturalist of the Year by the Fresno County Chamber of Commerce.

The Chandlers will formally be honored at the California State Fair Gala, an evening supporting the California agriculture award winners and the Friends of the California State Fair scholarship program on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Those interested in attending and honoring Bill and Carol Chandler can purchase tickets here.

Year Past Recipients
2020 Bill and Carol Chandler
2019 Karen Ross
2018 Paul Wenger
2017 Tom Nassif
2016 Sarbjit “Sarb” Johl
2015 Charles D. “Chuck” Ahlem
2014 Craig McNamara
2013 Edward H. Nishio
2012 A.G. Kawamura
2011 Robert “Bob” Gilbert
2010 Bill Lyons, Jr.
2009 Ron Schuler
2008 Bill Pauli
2007 Len Richardson
2006 John Harris
2005 George Gomes
2004 Alfred Montna
2003 Ann M. Veneman
2002 Cecil L. Wetsel, Jr.
2001 John A. De Luca
2000 A. J. Yates
1999 Gertrude “Gertie” Zerhrung
1998 John Kautz
1997 John Lacey
1996 Guido Lombardi
1995 Henry J. Voss
1994 William F. McFarlane
1993 Leland “Lee” Ruth
1992 Richard Rominger
1991 Gordon Van Vleck
1990 Dick Markarian
1989 Dean Brown
1988 Senator Rose Ann Vuich
1987 Clare Berryhill
1986 Richard Lyng
1985 Carolyn Leavens
1984 Bill Staiger
1983 Gailen Martin
1982 Assemblyman John Thurman
1981 Ed Rutherford