Los Banos High School's FFA program this month received its largest one-time donation in at least three decades.
Jim Orr, the school's vocational education director, said the $10,472 was the most given to the program in his 33 years at the school.
"We were flat shocked," Orr said. "It's going to be a huge benefit for some of these graduating students -- maybe help out for one extra year of college if nothing else."
The money will be split into scholarships, a school farm and the FFA's savings.
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The donation comes by way of Veterinary Service Inc. of Visalia. It is 1 percent of the company's sales in three months. Class of 1983 Los Banos High graduate Steve Gardner is a sales manager for VSI.
Orr said $6,000 will go to a yet undetermined number of scholarships during the next two years. He said he was confident more money would be earmarked for Los Banos High.
"As long as we meet our obligation, I believe there is going to be scholarship money available to students at Los Banos High School for many years to come," Orr said.
The FFA gives more than $22,000 at the scholarship banquet in May.
He said $2,000 will go to upgrade the school farm, soon to be leased, just south of the intersection of Pioneer and Ortigalita roads, and the remainder will buffer the FFA booster's coffer.
"[The money] is going to be used to upgrade the facility and get it ready to house student livestock projects for the May Day Fair," Orr said, referring to the Merced County Spring Fair.
Los Banos Ag Boosters President Don Baker said donations are critical to the FFA programs at both Los Banos High and Pacheco High schools.
Baker said the donations go to scholarships, as well as pay for travel and other fees related to agriculture conventions and shows.
Baker said the latest donation was specified for Los Banos High from the donor, VSI.
"[Pacheco has] no seniors, so they're not getting any scholarships yet," Baker said.
Last year, the boosters awarded 18 $500 scholarships to graduating seniors.
Gardner, who was integral in Los Banos High receiving the donation, said the school made a big impact on him.
Gardner said Los Banos High was awarded half of the money he was able to donate. He said he wanted to give back to a community that is involved in rural education.
"I have a vested interest in that; I sell animal health supplies. It's twofold," Gardner said.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos