Ag Foundation helps others, including those in agriculture
Wendy Alexander/the Madera Tribune
While building of Liberty High School’s L.E.A.F. Building is nearing completion, work still needs to be done. The Golden Valley Ag Foundation is trying to raise funds to add a greenhouse on the premises and also add fencing o the surrounding fields.
When one drives down Avenue 12 through the Madera Ranchos, they will see a building popping up near Liberty High School.
That’s where the new L.E.A.F. (Liberty High School Engineering, Agriscience and Farming) building will be located.
With the building getting close to being completed, there is still some work to be done and that’s where the Golden Valley Ag Foundation steps in.
With the building getting completed, the ag department is trying to build a greenhouse and fencing, which cost $150,000 each in the next year.
“On the greenhouse, that’s going to educate the kids on how to grow things,” Golden Valley Ag Foundation President and Founder John Porter said. “They can also make money off of that. They can make anywhere between $30,000-$100,000 a year. I have a couple of other projects to try to get through. I want to put 20 acres of Cuties out there because they aren’t going to use the land. The ag department took 20 years to get here. I can make $1 million in five years with those Cuties.”
Porter began the Ag Foundation in 2012 with the sole objective to help the new ag department at Liberty High School. However, along the way of his fund raising, he found other organizations that needed financial help. His foundation was more than happy to assist.
“We bought the marquee sign in front of the school and that cost us $30,000,” Porter said. “It would have cost the school $60,000. That new Hawk sign on the auditorium. We helped the Class of 2021 to pay for that. We’ve given $15,000 to special ed. We helped out eight different sports. We made $30,000 off our last fundraiser. We gave $2,500 to special ed. Sean Tovsrud has a group at Webster. They don’t do a lot of fundraising. We gave him $2,500 because he helped us out on fundraising. They do things for the school.
“The softball team didn’t have any money, for some reason, in their boosters account. It all disappeared. I gave them money, but I don’t know what happened to it. I gave them $2,500. I gave the school $2,500 towards the new speakers in the gym. They have a $10,000 bill and I’m trying to help pay that off. I gave $3,500 to purchase computers for the special ed kids.”
Porter started the foundation with Betsy Cardoza, Kenny Warnock and the Chase family.
“We’ve helped out the school for years,” he said. “We founded this to help out the ag. Now, we’re really helping out the school because we’ve been doing these fundraisers. We’re just stuck.”
The foundation has raised about $50,000 from their fundraisers to help with the greenhouse and fencing projects, but is looking for help to get the projects built.
“I’m just trying to get awareness to the public,” Porter said. “We’re building all of this stuff. We only had so much money. We can put our animals out there, but they didn’t have the money to finish it with the fencing.”
Porter has the help of his group, but he does as much as he can to hustle and earn money for the foundation.
“I take care of the builders and do a lot for them. In turn, they help out my group. I get nothing out of it,” he said. “We want people to know about the foundation to help out. I think there are people out there that would help if they knew more. There’s a lot of farmers that say they didn’t know the information. We got the grant, but a lot of things got cut because we got x-amount of money.”
Even though it seems like the foundation helped everyone but the ag department, he has significantly contributed to Liberty’s ag department.
“We helped kids go to conferences,” he said. “We paid half of their conference fees. We’re getting more and more kids a year. We do our tri-tip dinners and sold about 550 this year. We’ve made $15-$18,000 a year”
The goal of the ag foundation is to help the Liberty ag department. However, Porter’s objective is to help the kids of Liberty.
“Some people think I’m this big bully, but it’s for the kids,” he said. “It’s not for my status in life. I want to catch that one kid. If I can help one kid become someone better in life every year, that’s what I want. I’ve had some kids that have come to me and tell me if it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t have done anything.”
Porter’s two children, Trevor and Miranda, were multi-sport athletes at Liberty and went to school when the ag department was a little smaller. However, Porter knows that the new building, with the help of the Golden Valley Ag Foundation, will put Liberty on the agriculture map.
“The ag department is going to make Liberty even bigger,” he said.
The ag foundation meets the second Wednesday of every month at Liberty High school. Its next meeting is Dec. 8. If one would like to join or get more information, contact Porter at 559-313-3578.
“We’re just helping the kids to further their education in ag and explore different venues in ag,” Porter said.