New Ag One Foundation president Stanley Kjar Jr. had little idea he would be able to give back in such a unique way to the Fresno State community that helped him graduate over 20 years ago.
Kjar said when he attended Fresno State, Dr. Lynn Williams, a professor in the Agricultural Business Department, became a mentor for him. “I wasn’t the best student, but Dr. Williams challenged me to do better,” Kjar said. “I’ll always remember that one crucial conversation he had with me that bumped me back on track so I could graduate. I will always be grateful for that. Being able to now give back and help our faculty and students through my service at Ag One is a great way to return the favor.”
Ag One is a foundation created to benefit, promote and support the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and its students at Fresno State.
Nearly $29 million in endowed funds have been raised since Ag One was founded in 1979. In that span, about 5,000 students have been awarded over $8.5 million in scholarships with more than $850,000 planned for students for the 2022-23 academic year.
The Kingsburg native grew up on his family’s 20-acre Thompson seedless grape vineyard, where he learned the tenets of farming and hard work. He could call upon those same experiences while balancing his college experience at Kings River Community College and Fresno State while he worked with ag clients through the family business.
After earning an agricultural business degree from Fresno State in 1999, Kjar worked at his father’s Massey Ferguson farm equipment dealership in a host of sales and management roles until 2009 when the company was sold. Handling most of the negotiations and managing the sale of the family’s business is what motivated Kjar to get his real estate broker’s license and ultimately join Pearson Realty.
Now as a senior vice president for Pearson Realty, based out of its main office in Fresno, he works with an agricultural-heavy client base spanning from Chico to Bakersfield. Kjar specializes in representing buyers and sellers of agricultural properties and other agribusinesses clients. In his 12 years at Pearson he has been involved in over 24,000 acres of transactions totaling more than $500 million.
“I consider my work more of a relationship-based business than anything else,” Kjar said. “Many of my transactions of today were cultivated through many years of solid, trust-based relationships with clients. I just truly love people in general, so spending time with clients on their ranches and learning about their operations is what I enjoy most.”
Kjar was a Class 45 graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program, where he enjoyed being back on the Fresno State campus for multiple seminars.
Kjar has always enjoyed working with Ag One because of the chance to make new connections with others working toward preserving agriculture in California.
Recently, Ag One helped unveil a new campus nut lab, with sponsoring companies such as Western Agricultural Processors Association , TOMRA and Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, that will allow students to gain hands-on experience in all phases of the processing of nuts, almonds and pistachios.
“My wife (Cecilia) is a Fresno State alum and an almond broker, and I’m really involved in the almond industry, too,” Kjar said. “It was great to see Ag One’s work and [to see] the staff and students to put this project together, to help teach a trade for years to come that is so specialized and prevalent in the Central Valley.”
Kjar’s first Ag One event in his new role was at the Stanislaus Alumni and Friends Dinner on July 27 that honored the agricultural contributions and memory of Brad Coleman, a Fresno State alumnus and Modesto farmer and winegrower.
Later this fall, Kjar will have the opportunity to attend the 45th annual Ag One Boosters BBQ on Sept. 11 at the Panoche Creek River Ranch and the 51st annual Turf Day Classic on Oct. 21 at Belmont Country Club.
Kjar succeeds Jim Razor, who completed his one-year term June 30. Other current Ag One Foundation board officers include:
- Roger Isom, vice president (Fresno, CCGGA/ WAPA)
- Nick Biscay, treasurer (Madera, Stanislaus Farm Supply)
- Fendley Ragland, secretary (Fresno, PGIM, Inc. Real Estate Agricultural Investments)
- Jim Razor, past president (Corcoran, J.G. Boswell Company)
New members on the 23-person board of directors include:
- Jane Bedrosian (Fowler, National Raisin Company)
- Mark Brady (Visalia, Plant Food Systems, Inc.)
- Audie Burgan (Fresno, JM Equipment Company)
- Patrick Murphy (Fresno, Helmo Agro)
- Gregory Nicol (Fresno, Tevel Aerobotics Technologies)
(Story by Brianna Brazil, Jordan College student assistant)