Del Mar’s Jill Coughlin Honored for 30 Years as San Diego County Fair’s Plant*Grow*Eat Coordinator

JUNE 26, 2019

Del Mar, CA … In 1989, Jill Coughlin enthusiastically dove into her new job as Plant*Grow*Eat Coordinator at the San Diego County Fair. She developed a curriculum that met science guidelines for elementary schools. Then, bearing soil, seeds, pots and instructions, she visited classrooms throughout San Diego County in advance of the Fair to show students how to plant and nurture their edible plants. Several weeks later, when the eager young farmers stepped off their school buses to scamper to the Infield Farm, proudly display their bounty to the judges, receive ribbons for their efforts and dash off to enjoy a memorable agriculture adventure, “Miss Jill” was there to welcome them.

Jill Coughlin was honored on June 23, 2019 by her Fair peers for 30 years of service and for growing the program to help the Fair provide agricultural education to the community. Flabbergasted by the heartfelt accolades, not to mention her festive cake decorated with real radishes, Coughlin revealed, “Over 331,000 children have participated in Plant*Grow*Eat. I have so many delightful memories!”

A longtime Del Mar resident, Coughlin has recruited dozens of volunteer judges from the Del Mar Garden Club and Village Garden Club of La Jolla. This community stalwart is a member of both as well as Del Mar-based Friends of the Powerhouse.

Retired Deputy Fairgrounds Manager Chana Mannen states, “Jill’s passion for agriculture, coupled with her love of children and her organizational skills, have made Plant*Grow*Eat a successful program that has grown in popularity and participation. Her work represents an enduring legacy of the Fair.”

More information about the program can be found at

Don Diego Donors Put Kids on the Road to Fair Fun

JUNE 25, 2019

Del Mar, CA … Summer started one day early at the San Diego County Fair’s June 20, 2019 Plant*Grow*Eat Day when hundreds of bright-eyed elementary students bearing their carefully nurtured edible plants descended from buses to the Infield Farm. Awaiting them were some of the many generous Don Diego Scholarship Foundation donors who sponsored buses so these enthusiastic young farmers could earn well-deserved ribbons and enjoy a memorable agriculture adventure at the Fair.

This year, the generosity of longtime and inaugural group and individual bus sponsors enabled Don Diego to provide 89 buses transporting 4,000+ students from Title 1 schools throughout San Diego County to the Fair on designated Plant*Grow*Eat days.

Multiple-year sponsors returning this year included the Del Mar Foundation, Del Mar Kiwanis, Les Dames de Escoffier, SDG&E and other organizations as well as individuals such as Brenda Larson who say they are passionate about the program.

Among the new sponsors were eight members of the Village Garden Club of La Jolla. Garden Club Member Margaret Anne Lozuk revealed, “As a San Marcos Unified School District teacher, I brought my classes here. I’ve also served as a Plant*Grow*Eat judge. That was really fun! When I learned of the bus sponsorship opportunity at a Village Garden Club of La Jolla meeting, I was happy to hear that the Club itself was a sponsor. I immediately resolved, ‘This is something I also want to do on my own as a way to give back.’ I’m so glad I sponsored a bus and I’m glad to be here with the kids.”

Don Diego Executive Director Chana Mannen, who created Plant*Grow*Eat decades ago when she served as Deputy Manager of the Fair, […]

Don Diego Gala at the Fair Sparkles with Surprises

JUNE 18, 2019

Del Mar, CA … The festive crowd attending Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s June 15, 2019 Dinner and Smokey Robinson Concert at the San Diego County Fair enjoyed a shimmering evening replete with surprise auction items, a surprise donation opportunity and three surprise donors establishing inaugural Named Scholarships.

The Don Diego Class of 2019: Seated – Katelyn Challman, Jacqueline Kinch, Margaret (Sissy) Sugarman, Kasin Martin, Robert Carmichael, Evan Wright, Russell Sorbo. Standing – Helen Buchanan, Isai Soto, Hailey Bjerknes, Rachel Utter, Elizabeth Navarro, Megan Kelly, Miranda Medford, Elijah Martineau , Marisol Solas. Not pictured: Charlize Rice, Emilie Melnychuk, Johanna Jimenez, Kassidy Gray, Leah Gill, Nick LaRocco, Sol Kier

The whimsical décor of the Infield Pavilion provided a colorful backdrop for delectable dining, presentation of 2019 Scholars, and a lively auction featuring such unique opportunities as Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Turf Club membership, 50-yard-line tickets to an upcoming USC-Oregon football game and an adventure flight in the “Yellow Peril” two-seater piloted by Board member, Rear Admiral Ret. Russ Penniman.

To celebrate surpassing $1 million in total funds raised over the years, the Board unveiled a new Matching Named Scholarship opportunity, which will kickstart efforts to begin raising its second million to support future outstanding students pursuing ambitious college and career goals. A donation of $25,000 or more will be matched by the Foundation, thus doubling the value of the donor’s perpetual Named Scholarship.

When Board Member/Auctioneer Frederick Schenck announced a special Gala-Night-0nly two-for-one donation match, Board member Glenn Drown immediately stepped up to the challenge. To widespread applause, he enthusiastically pledged $25,000 to create a $75,000 Bill and Elizabeth Tulloch Family Scholarship in honor of his Ramona family’s longtime agricultural […]

Russell Sorbo

$5,000 FFA Scholarship
$5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship
Cal Poly SLO

“The Fair guided me to my chosen career path as a veterinarian while helping me gain leadership skills and understand the importance of community. The experience has been life-changing. This combined $10,000 Don Diego scholarship will help me handle tuition.”

Margaret (Sissy) Sugarman

$5,000 Jr. Livestock Auction Scholarship
$2,500 Zable Foundation 4-H Scholarship
Principia College

“I am grateful for all the invaluable lessons I learned about animals and life, growing up on our family farm. 4-H helped me identify my goal of becoming a zoology vet and conservationist. Don Diego will help me get there. Thank you!”

Helen Buchanan

$5,000 Zable Foundation 4-H Scholarship
UC Berkeley

“My years of positive Fair experiences have enabled me to entertain the public through Story Ballets, express myself in Creative Youth, positively impact the community through my beekeeping groups and enjoy time with family and friends in a safe, entertaining and fun environment.”

Katelyn Challman

San Diego
$5,000 Employee Scholarship
Alliant International University

“Working for the Fair for five years showed me a culture of acceptance, happiness, quality time, fun and inclusion, providing a unifying experience for the community. My participation has been fundamental to my professional development, as I work toward a PhD in Clinical Psychology.”

Charlize Rice

$5,000 Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship
UC Santa Cruz

“To pursue Genetic Engineering/Molecular Biology at a UC campus costs about $30,000 per year. I will finance my education primarily through grants, loans and scholarships, including this generous award from Don Diego. Thank you!”