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Preston High School students who pursue agricultural education have a friend in Carl Swainston. He just created a scholarship fund to aid those students who qualify to compete at the national Future Farmer of America (FFA) competitions, said Dax Keller, a trustee of the Preston School Board. Ten percent of the scholarships will help youth travel to national competitions.

Last year, the Preston High School FFA Chapter sent a record of 12 kids (three teams) to compete at the national FFA convention in October, and another four (one team) will compete at the national soils competition in May this year, said advisor Larin Crossley, who was pleased with their performance. The food science team placed sixth at nationals, the ag mechanics team 10th, and the poultry team 19th.

“We’ve had two teams before, but not three,” said Crossley.

Called the Carl and Julie Swainston Scholarship, the fund honors the good life agriculture has provided to now five generations of Swainstons, on land where Carl and Julie raised their eight children. It started with Carl’s grandfather “who immigrated from England, where he could own nothing, and here he could own land.” Carl expanded the farm to raise hay, wheat, barley, corn, safflower, and dairy and beef cattle.

Today, two of his and Julie’s children continue the farming tradition in the same way their progenitors did. “We just worked hard. That’s the only thing we did,” said Swainston. He and Keller were quick to note that although the late Julie Swainston was a city girl (she grew up in Logan, Utah), she was “as good a worker as I was,” said Carl.

She “outworked” her husband doing chores and driving tractors, quipped Keller. “Look at all good he and now his kids do in our community (Robert is a county commissioner, Richard is a manager at Trails West and a committee member for That Famous Preston Night Rodeo, and Ryan is the assistant Franklin County Fire Chief). It’s amazing what one good mom and dad can do in life,” he said.

“It’s just so great to have someone who really has a heart in the district and wants to do the best they can to help in any way they can,” said Keller. Carl gave $25,000 for the scholarship fund.

He graduated from PHS in 1953, and has worked on the farm for 57 years, he said. Helping youth involved in agriculture is just something he wanted to do. “That’s the way I made my living,” he said.

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