Iowa State University
“The scholarship is huge, since I’ll be paying out-of-state tuition. I believe Don Diego is investing not only in me as a person, but in the future of agriculture.”
Annual scholarships are awarded in four categories: Fair Exhibitor, Fair Employee, 4-H and FFA. Matt won the scholarship in the FFA category, which traditionally ranks as one of the most competitive of the Don Diego scholarship program.
Matt says, “I will use the scholarship to attend Iowa State University, where I will start my transition from a Future Farmer of America to a True Farmer of America.” This self-described entrepreneur plans to major in Agriculture Business/Animal Science.
Don Diego Vice Chair Jon Liss says all three FFA finalists he and his fellow scholarship committee members interviewed were outstanding, but that Matt stood apart and above. He explains, “Matt has excelled academically while holding leadership roles within FFA, raising a variety of animals, winning major livestock showing honors and exhibiting a genuine love of agriculture. We were impressed by his public speaking skills, his senior project on farm management and his desire to eventually establish a swine operation focusing on the improvement of genetics. His commitment to agriculture mirrors our Foundation’s original and continuing intent.”
The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s high assessment of Matt Kelly is shared by his FFA advisors and Poway teachers, including his English teacher, Jennifer Proffitt. She relates, “Matthew brings his love of agriculture into his academic activities whenever possible. He brought one of his piglets to class for a presentation and he even set up a petting zoo for my son’s third birthday party.”
Agriculture teacher/FFA advisor Mary Martineau says that together, Matt’s FFA school and county leadership positions, his many species showmanship awards at the San Diego County and Ramona Fairs, and his multiple honors at local and state levels, “exemplify Matt’s commitment and ability to not only improve himself, but to improve organizations in which he is involved.”
Although steeped in agriculture, Matt is a well-rounded young man. In addition to serving as President and Treasurer of the Poway FFA and Vice President of the San Diego Section, he has become scuba-certified, earned a Boy Scout Life Achievement Award, restored a motorcycle and owned a menagerie that has included “two chinchillas, one leopard gecko, three hamsters, one dog, one desert tortoise and one very mean iguana.”
Looking back to his very first foray at the San Diego County Fair with the pig he named ‘Kevin Bacon,’ Matt says, “I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life.
The $5,000 scholarship is huge, especially since I’ll be paying out-of-state tuition.”
He concludes, “I sincerely believe that the Don Diego Scholarship Foundation is investing not only in me, Matt Kelly, as a person, but in the future of agriculture.”