BOISE — The wife of Idaho’s late Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, known during his day as a champion of agriculture, has donated $100,000 to the Idaho FFA Foundation in honor of her husband.
The donation was announced Jan. 29 during Idaho FFA’s annual “Day on the Hill” event, which is named after Pete Cenarrusa, who died in 2013. He started the first agriculture classes at Cambridge and Carey high schools and was a strong supporter of Idaho agriculture.
His wife, Freda Cenarrusa, raised the money by selling a piece of property near Carey the couple lived on during their sheep ranching days.
“I just want to say I’m happy, you’re happy and Pete is ecstatic,” she told hundreds of FFA members, legislators and members of the state’s agriculture industry after the gift was announced.
The money will be used to establish the Idaho FFA Foundation Pete and Freda Cenarrusa Endowment Fund, which will provide financial support annually to help fund leadership and career development programs for FFA members.
“This $100,000 gift from Freda Cenarrusa in honor of Pete Cenarrusa is an amazing legacy gift for Idaho FFA,” Idaho FFA Foundation Executive Director Laura Wilder told Capital Press. “This gift will help fund Idaho FFA career and leadership development activities for Idaho FFA members, forever.”
The annual dividends generated by the endowment will go to the Idaho FFA Foundation’s general fund and will be allocated by members of the group’s board of trustees to the areas of greatest need, she said.
“We have so many opportunities for our students to develop career and leadership skills and this really helps us use the money to benefit the most students with the greatest need,” Wilder said.
Hundreds of FFA members, wearing their iconic blue jackets, descend on Boise every year for the Day on the Hill event, where they meet face-to-face with lawmakers and experience first-hand how laws are passed.
They also meet with leaders of the state’s agriculture industry and members of Idaho’s farm commissions.
“It’s good to see them interact with legislators,” said Rep. Scott Bedke, a Republican Rancher from Oakley and speaker of the house. “It reminds these legislators that represent suburban districts how important agriculture is.”
Bedke, a former FFA member, said lawmakers attend a lot of functions during the legislative session “but there are none more important that this one.”
Tom Clifton, an FFA adviser in Jerome, said the event is the first chance a lot of younger FFA members have to participate in a major leadership event and for the older ones, “it’s sort of a reinforcement of what they’ve learned, what they’ve been going through the last three or for years. It’s a wonderful event for these kids to keep them on the right track.”
He said the forum is also a great reminder to legislators of the important role agriculture plays in Idaho’s economy.
“They know what the lifeblood of Idaho is and it’s agriculture and it’s good that the kids reinforce that,” Clifton said.