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Chamber honors ag leaders
Nunes & Weststeyn feted by Chamber
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The Ceres Chamber of Commerce presented its annual Agribusiness Woman of the Year award to Ceres teacher and farmer Kathy Weststeyn, and the Agribusiness Man of the Year award to Westport area farmer Greg Nunes. The presentation was made at the Ceres Community Center on Thursday. - photo by Dale Butler

Greg Nunes and Kathy Weststeyn were honored as great proponents of agriculture as they were honored by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce and the Agribusiness Man and Agribusiness Woman of the Year respectively.

The pair was honored at a packed 28th annual Agribusiness Luncheon held for the first time at the Ceres Community Center after years of being hosted at the Stanislaus County Agricultural Center.

Nunes is a Westport area farmer who has been a staunch supporter of Ceres youth programs, including 4-H, FFA, Little League and Ceres Youth Soccer.

Weststeyn has been a Ceres teacher who has done her best to instill the value of agriculture to her students.

Nunes attended Ceres High School and Modesto Junior College, majoring in agriculture and raising and showing 4-H and FFA animals at the County Fair. He started his career working on his family's dairy. He worked for other local farmers while starting his own farm where he raised alfalfa, oats, corn, beans, almonds and dairy replacement heifers. He is also considered an expert on baling hay.

For over 40 years Nunes and his wife have donated time to youth organizations. He has helped 4-H and FFA students select livestock, weigh hogs and transport animals to the Fair in Turlock. Although his four kids are adults and out of the organizations, Nunes still supports 4-H and FFA fundraisers and supports livestock auctions at the Fair.

Nunes also volunteered as a firefighter for the Westport Fire Protection District for 22 years.

"He never once considered his own blood, sweat and tears when it came to saving someone's life, property or livelihood," said award presenter Stan Sinclear.

After retiring as a volunteer firefighter, Nunes served on the Westport Fire Protection District board of directors for eight years. He continues to assist at annual pancake breakfasts and other events.

"You can pretend to care but you can't pretend to be there," said Sinclear. "This guy sets the example for a ‘be there' person. He has been there for his family, friends, neighborhood and community. He is one of the most honest people that I have ever known. He is always there to lend a hand to those in need, or an ear to those who need some support."

Weststeyn is the daughter of the late Henry Voss, who was a Ceres area farmer who later served as the Food and Agriculture Director for the state of California. She grew up on the Voss farm in the San Jose area where cherries, plums, apricots and bell peppers were grown. Each summer she would help her mom with a cherry stand and processing, drying and boxing up produce. Urbanization pushed the Voss family to Ceres. She first majored in fashion merchandising at Modesto Junior College and went to work at Weinstocks and House of Fabrics before deciding to go back to college in 1991. She graduated from Fresno State in 1991 and earned her teaching credential at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock in 1994. She became a Carroll Fowler Elementary School second-grade teacher in 1996 and remained there nine years before moving to Walter White Elementary School. Weststyn has attended conference for the Ag in the Classroom program - which her father helped start - and teaching students about crops and the importance of farming and water.

Today she and husband Randy farm almonds.

Her community involvement has included volunteering over 20 years to the Ceres Dolphins swim team, 4-H and FFA and has been a 4-H camp director and volunteer staff member. Having spent many summers at the Stanislaus County Fair, Kathy earned the Farmyard Experience People's Choice award in 2011.

"I am in awe of all this lady does for her students, her family and her community and I know her parents are looking down with pride at their daughter," said Valli Wigt in presenting the award.

The event included a presentation of $500 scholarship checks to three Central Valley High School FFA chapter members in Dominique Germann, Katie Butrica and Luis Alvarez.

County Supervisor Vita Chiesa spoke and addressed the need for protection of agriculturally zoned land in the county. Chiesa is a Hughson farmer when not tending to county business.