Jesus Rodriguez is being honored as a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change.
Being from a migrant worker family has developed me into the person that I am and influenced the attitude that I have towards receiving a higher education.
My parents are both employed in the tree fruit industry. My dad is a tree fruit harvester and my mom is an apple sorter. My dad has been harvesting all types of tree fruit for 32 years now. My mom has been sorting apples for seven years at the packing shed. Despite their long days and hard work, my parents still have enough energy to work extra hours and perform more tasks. After a long day of harvesting cherries, my dad would wait until it got cool enough to be able to thin apples. He would then thin until it got too dark to work. In addition, he is a mechanic for anyone with car troubles and a gardener for my mom. When it comes to my mom, she is a strong woman that I admire and love so much. She could work overtime and still have enough energy to cook an elaborate dinner and clean anything that is untidy.
I once asked my parents why they worked as much as they do and they told me that they would like to give me what their parents were unable to give them. Without hesitation I can proudly say that I have been blessed with parents that love me unconditionally, provide for me, and are willing to sacrifice themselves for the future of their kids. Therefore, I believe it is my duty to take care of my parents after the hardships, obstacles, and sacrifices they have faced and overcome for my siblings and me.
I developed a strong work ethic working in the orchard beside my father pushing myself to do as good a job and to work as fast as he does. I took that work ethic to the classroom and achieved good marks and earned college credit. I was fortunate enough to be awarded enough scholarship dollars to get just over halfway through my college education, and I feel confident that I can earn the rest. I plan to make agriculture my career based on my past experiences in the field, my Future Farmers of America (FFA) and agriculture education experience, and the fact that in my working life we will have to produce as much food as we have in all of history to feed an ever increasing world population.
My path to success and financial stability lies on the road through an orchard, which I hopefully will someday own. Then, the only apples my dad will have to pick are the apples that he wants to eat.
Jesus Rodriguez was born in Los Angeles, California the son of Mexican and El Salvadoran immigrants. His family moved to the Chelan Valley in Central Washington State before he entered school to work in the tree fruit industry. He will enter college this coming fall pursuing a degree in Horticulture at Washington State University.