Brett Huff, 18, of Ramona is one of four recipients of a $5,000 college scholarship given by The Don Diego Fund.
The nonprofit annually provides scholarships to stellar youth who have been associated with activities at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and who plan to pursue higher education.
Huff, who won the highly competitive award in the 4-H category, will put the $5,000 toward achieving his dream of attending Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, where he plans to major in agriculture and animal science. He will be recognized at The Don Diego Fund’s Doobie Brothers Dinner and Concert Gala at the San Diego County Fair on June 21.
Ticket packages for the gala are available at several levels, including individual tickets for $150. For details, visit www.dondiegofund.org.
Huff, the son of Bert and Debora Huff of Ramona, graduated with a 3.85 grade-point average from Christian High School in El Cajon on May 27. He said his nine-year experience in 4-H, including many great years at the Ramona Junior Fair, helped him “to grow in leadership, advance in animal husbandry and develop a desire to make agriculture a career.”
His connection to the San Diego County Fair and to the fair’s longtime, Don Diego (the late Tom Hernandez), after whom the fund is named, also is strong.
“My mother, Debora Huff (née Watkins), was Miss Ramona of 1976,” said Brett. “She shared many stories with me about walking around the Del Mar Fairgrounds with Mr. Hernandez as he welcomed people to the fair. She told me about his importance as the image of the fair. Now, fast-forward to today, and I am a beneficiary of funds started in his honor. It’s great!”
Huff, who has parlayed his champion pole-vaulting skills into a partial scholarship at Dordt, will be a member of the school’s track and field team.
To supplement these funds and his Don Diego scholarship, he has saved nearly $12,000 from his 4-H projects over the years. He also plans to work while attending school, possibly on an Iowa farm or at a local genetics company.
In addition to training with pole-vaulting Olympic Gold Medalist Stacy Dragila, Huff is a stand-out in soccer, football and track and puts his time-management skills toward several volunteering efforts. Among his many endeavors, he has led a group of students to Yunan, China, with Habitat for Humanity, served as teen leader of his 4-H sheep group and has been actively involved with the Ramona Junior Fair Steering Committee.
He said he learned to vault over obstacles at a young age when he used endurance and perseverance to overcome dyslexia.
“Brett Huff exemplifies precisely what the fund was created to recognize and reward,” said Chana Mannen, Don Diego Fund Executive. “He is a role model on many levels.”
Ramona Stars 4-H Club Community Leader Debra Lambert Hallums concurs, saying, “Brett is outstanding in every way.”
The Don Diego Fund is a nonprofit scholarship program of the San Diego County Fair. It was formed in 1986 as a tribute to Hernandez, who, in the role of Don Diego, served as the legendary goodwill ambassador of the fair from 1947 until his death in 1984. To date, the fund has awarded $556,000 in scholarships and grants, helping 130 students pursue higher education.
The fund welcomes sponsors. Visit the website for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.