2022 San Luis Obispo County Agriculturalist, Cattlewoman, Cattleman of the Year named
PASO ROBLES — San Luis Obispo County farmers and ranchers gathered for their yearly reunion at the California Mid-State Fair on July 21 — the annual Cattlemen and Farmers Day.
As tradition goes, three individuals are recognized for their contributions to the agriculture community as Cattleman of the Year, Cattlewoman of the Year, and Agriculturalist of the Year. The honorees are selected by the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau, San Luis Obispo County Cattlewomen, and San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association.
The anticipated day is filled with socializing, a barbecue steak dinner made by friends and family, plus the Industrial Arts Awards and Auction — and don’t forget the announcement of the coveted awards ceremony.
This year’s recipients are:
- Tom Bordonaro, Agriculturalist of the Year
- Sarah Kramer, Cattlewoman of the Year
- Paul Tognazzini, Cattleman of the Year
Tom Bordonaro, Agriculturalist of the Year
San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau selected Paso Robles farmer and community leader Tom Bordonaro Jr. as the 2022 Agriculturalist of the Year.
“I was quite surprised, very honored, and very grateful to the Farm Bureau for the recognition,” said Bordonaro.
The Agriculturalist of the Year award recognizes distinguished success in the agriculture industry and a lifetime of dedication to advancing San Luis Obispo County’s rich farming and ranching heritage. Through his community service to local youth and his advocacy as an elected official, few have done more for SLO County’s agriculture community than Bordonaro.
While Bordonaro wasn’t born into a generational agriculture family, he was drawn to the lifestyle at a young age. At the age of 9, he began 4-H and continued showing animals through FFA in high school. To this day, Bordonaro is a key supporter of the organizations.
“It is a great program that helps develop good leadership skills in youth,” he says, “It teaches all of those things that you don’t learn in school.”
Bordonaro headed to Cal Poly with aspirations to become a veterinarian, but being left paralyzed from a car accident at the age of 18, he switched gears while remaining in the agriculture industry.
“I was not supposed to live through the night, and I did,” said Bordonaro, “so I have been taking advantage of that and taking life as it comes and making the best of it. Not wining about things but understanding it could always be worse.”
By 1986, Bordonaro had earned his bachelor’s degree in ag management from Cal Poly in 1983, and a Master’s in ag economics from UC Davis. He continued to help manage his family’s farm, Bar TJ Ranch, in Creston, raising cattle, hay, and wine grapes.
Through his nearly 30 years of advocating for local agriculturists and business owners, Bordonaro has walked the halls of the State Capitol serving in public office for the first time in 1994.
Bordonaro won the 33rd District primary and served a second term as state assemblyman. He was appointed by two different governors to serve as a commissioner on the California Board of Prison Terms. Since 2003, SLO County voters have tasked him as their county assessor.
Bordonaro has lent his leadership skills to several organizations, including being president and a member of the executive and legislative committee of the California Assessors’ Association, president of the Central-Southern Assessors’ Association, and a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers.
Tom and his wife of 21 years, Martha, have four children, Francesca (30), Anthony (28), William (18) and Marc (18), and two grandchildren, Collin (7) and Reagan (6).
San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau has given the Agriculturalist of the Year award annually since 1988, making Bordonaro the 34th person to receive this honor.
Sarah Kramer, Cattlewoman of the Year
San Luis Obispo County Cattlewomen selected Paso Robles community leader Sarah Kramer as the 2022 Cattlewoman of the Year.
“It’s a great honor to be around all these people who have been around so long,” said Kramer.
Kramer’s affinity for the agriculture industry came from her grandfather, a produce broker from Orange County. Her grandfather’s work gave Kramer first-hand knowledge of how important agriculture is to the world — and how much work it takes to get it there.
After graduating from Cal Poly in 2001, Kramer, like many Poly grads, didn’t want to leave. She left Cal Poly with a degree in agribusiness with a concentration in marketing in 2005 and began finding her path into the San Luis Obispo County community.
While working at the Farm Credit West and Farm Credit — soon becoming the vice president and loan officer — Kramer’s passion for agriculture grew.
“Its a passion of mine because we all have to eat, so agriculture is never going away,” said Kramer, “There’s less and less people in agriculture and more and more people every day, so its something important where people need to realize where their food comes from.”
Kramer is a proud member of several agriculture organziations in the county, serving in leadership roles for many of them. She joined the San Luis Obispo County chapter of California Women for Agriculture, SLO County Cattlewomen’s Association, SLO County Farm Bureau, and the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
“I am very passionate about making sure that we still can farm here and that our industries do stay here,” said Kramer, “and that people learn that agriculture was here first and we need it to stay. We need to make sure our local politicians know that as well.”
Other organizations she has been a part of include the Paso Robles Pioneer Day Committee, San Luis Obispo County Ag Education Committee board, California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation member, Paso Robles High School Agriculture Department Advisory Committee, and Ag Finance Representative on the SLO County Agricultural Liaison Advisory Board.
In 2013, she became vice president and commercial relationship manager at Umpqua Bank, and serves today as senior vice president and commercial relationship manager at Bank of the Sierra.
Kramer currently sits as the vice president of the SLO County Farm Bureau and looks forward to serving as president next year.
Paul Tognazzini, Cattleman of the Year
San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association has named fourth-generation rancher Paul Tognazzini the 2022 Cattleman of the Year.
“I was pretty surprised,” Tognazzini said. “I felt there’s probably a lot more qualified individuals than myself. But I was also very honored, mostly because my dad was Cattleman of the Year several years ago, so that meant a lot to me.”
Tognazzini is one of those founding names known throughout the county.
Born in San Luis Obispo and raised on the family ranch near Cayucos, Paul is the son of Peter Tognazzini Sr. and Amelia Gianolini Tognazzini, and has three siblings, Peter Jr., Phil, and Pam. The Tognazzini and Gianolini family’s deep California agricultural roots date back to 1869 and 1890.
“I come from a long line of ranchers and dairymen,” Tognazzini said. “We settled in Cayucos in the 1800s and still own the same ranch and still own the same ranch my mom grew up on in the Los Osos Valley, and so I’ve pretty much had a lifetime of experience in the cattle industry.”
Tognazzini’s upbringing was much like any other ranch kid of the era — filled with driving tractors and farm chores and showing livestock at the local fairs.
By 1972, Tognazzini earned a bachelor’s degree in ag business management from Cal Poly. During his college years, he purchased his first herd of 35 cows for $150 a head.
After graduation, Tognazzini began his banking career which spanned 22 years.
In 1985, Paul married his wife, Fran. The two have three children, Stephany, Brian, and Charlie, and three grandchildren, Chloe, Spencer, and Leo.
He continues ranching with his son, Charlie, but also continued to give back to the community.
He served as a director on the Cancer Support Community Board, where he was honored with the “Founders Award.” Tognazzini has been a 4-H beef leader, a Paso Robles Ag Tour Committee volunteer for 20 years, and he and his wife were recipients of the California Mid-State Fair “Blue Ribbon Award.” He has been an SLO County Cattlemen’s Association director for many years and serves today as treasurer.
When asked about the agriculture and the ranching lifestyle he enjoys most, Tognazzini says, “I like the people, of course, and I like to be outdoors and just the lifestyle. It’s pretty hard to beat.”
San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association has given the Cattleman of the Year award annually since 1963, making Tognazzini the 59th person to receive this honor.
Photos courtesy of SLO Farm Bureau