Jeff Elder, CHAIR
Jeff Elder, CHAIR

J.G. Boswell Company

As a vice president for J.G. Boswell Company, the nation’s largest agricultural producer, Jeff (Class 35) oversees the sales and marketing of the company’s primary crops, including pima cotton, tomato paste, safflower oil and cottonseed oil. He is the world’s largest marketer/exporter of extra-long staple cotton. He is in his 13th year with the company. Jeff has been involved with California agriculture for more than 30 years, mostly in cotton. He has been active in, and served on the boards for, many agricultural organizations. Jeff is past president of the Cotton Warehouse Association of America and immediate past chair of the Supima organization. Jeff attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and continued to study through North Carolina State College of Textiles, the California Agri-Business Seminar, various trade events and seminars.


James R. Maxwell, VICE CHAIR
James R. Maxwell, VICE CHAIR

Agriland Farming Company, Inc.

Jim Maxwell founded and serves as CEO of various California agricultural companies, including Agriland Farming Company, Inc.; Agri Systems, Inc.; Agri Capital, Inc.; Madera Ag Supply, Inc.; and Growers Fig Company, Inc. These companies combine to form a fully integrated, nationally ranked, permanent crop operation specializing in almonds, pistachios, grapes, walnuts, figs, mandarins and kiwifruit. Related operations include an agricultural tree and vine nursery, a custom nut harvesting business, well drilling, Idaho field crop farming, beef cattle operations, wholesaler of ag hardware, safety products and farm supplies, agricultural real estate brokerage, and secured agricultural lending. Maxwell earned an MBA from California State University, Fresno, where he also served as part-time faculty in the Craig School of Business. Prior to founding his own companies, he served as COO of a public agricultural company. He has served on various community organizations and has been a volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Central California for the past five years.


Loren Booth, Immediate Past Chair
Loren Booth, Immediate Past Chair

Booth Ranches LLC

Loren (Class 27) is a fifth generation Californian, born in Pasadena. She is president of the family-owned and operated Booth Ranches, a premium citrus grower in the San Joaquin Valley. Loren lives on her family ranch in Orange Cove. In addition to managing acres of citrus, Loren operates a commercial cattle herd in the foothills surrounding the operation in Orange Cove. She also enjoys raising and showing Quarter horses, specializing in reining. Loren serves as a director for the Hills Valley Irrigation District and as a board member of Western Growers Association. She was the first woman to serve as a board member for the Citrus Research Board. Loren is one of six children, and she attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she majored in animal science.


Karm Bains
Karm Bains

Karmdeep S. Bains Farms/Bains Ranches

Karm Bains (Class 40) is a fourth generation California farmer who grows peaches, prunes, walnuts and almonds in Sutter and Butte counties. He has been owner-partner at Coldwell Banker Commercial Valley Brokers since 2010 and owner and operator of Karmdeep S. Bains Farms/Bains Ranches since 2006. He was farm manager at Didar Singh Bains Farms from 1992 to 2006. Bains is involved with numerous agricultural and community organizations. In 2014, he was reappointed to the 13th District Agricultural Association (Yuba-Sutter Fair board), where he has served since 2012. Bains also serves on the Yuba City Planning Commission and the Sutter County Board of Education, as well as on the board of directors of the Walnut Bargaining Association, the California Cling Peach Association, the Prune Bargaining Association and the Rideout Health Foundation. Born and raised in Yuba City, Bains attended Fresno State, where he majored in business. He and his wife, Harpreet, have four children.


Rick Burnes
Rick Burnes

Campbell Fresh - Bolthouse Carrots

Rick recently returned to Bolthouse Farms, now a part of Campbell Fresh, to assume management of their fresh carrot operations. Prior to his current position, he was the Chief Operating Officer for Agriculture Capital Management, which is a sustainability-driven agriculture and food investment firm. Previously,  Rick spent more than 18 years working for The Wonderful Company in the almond, pistachio, citrus, pomegranate, wine and grapevine sectors. He was also president of Wonderful Nurseries based in Wasco. He is a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield as well as an alumnus of Class 41 of the Ag Leadership Program.


Edwin Camp
Edwin Camp

D.M. Camp & Sons

Edwin (Class 15) is president of D.M. Camp & Sons in Kern County. The farming operation was founded by his grandfather in 1936 and carried on by his father as W.B. Camp & Son. Today, D.M. Camp & Sons farms wine and table grapes, almonds, carrots, garlic, potatoes, Clementine tangerines and wheat. The Camp family also operates a cold storage, three John Deere farm equipment dealerships, and a John Deere engine distributorship serving California, Hawaii and much of Nevada and Arizona. Edwin earned a bachelor’s degree in crop science in 1979 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he graduated with honors, was president of the Crops Club, and involved with NAMA, Toastmasters and Alpha Zeta. Edwin is active in many industry organizations, including director for the Arvin-Edison Water Storage District and North Kern Water Storage District. He is a director and former chairman of Western Growers Association and has served on the Cal Poly College of Agriculture Advisory Council since 2003.


Karen Caplan
Karen Caplan

Frieda’s, Inc.

Karen Caplan is President and CEO of Frieda’s, Inc. The company markets and distributes exotic fruits and vegetables. As the daughter of entrepreneur Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan—founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce—Karen began working with produce at the age of 10. After graduating with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Business Management from the University of California, Davis, she joined Frieda’s full time. Learning the business from the ground up, she worked in just about every department at the company, from packing boxes to sales and marketing. At the age of 30, she was promoted to president and CEO. In 1990 Karen and her sister purchased the company from their mother. With Karen at the helm and her sister by her side, Frieda’s became the nation’s leading marketer and distributor of specialty produce.


Robert B. Cherenson
Robert B. Cherenson

Lander Veterinary Clinic

Dr. Bob Cherenson (Class 29) is one of eight partners at Turlock-based Lander Veterinary Clinic, which serves large production-oriented food animal operations, particularly dairy farms. He joined Lander in 1990. Cherenson’s area of focus is evidence-based herd health decision making, especially in the areas of reproduction, calf health and preventative medicine. He also has primary responsibility for the clinic’s 525-cow Jersey dairy farm and for QMS, the clinic’s pharmaceutical and supply business. Previously, Cherenson practiced and dairy farmed in New England. He currently serves on the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and formerly served on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. In his community, he presided over Turlock American/American East Little League for several years and coached. Cherenson has also served on various Ag Leadership committees, including several screening and final selection committees and the program advisory committee. He and his wife, Lisa, have two children. A New Jersey native, Cherenson earned his DVM from Purdue University in 1984.


Dr. Helene Dillard
Dr. Helene Dillard

UC Davis

Dr. Helene Dillard was appointed dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis in January 2014. Dillard has national and international leadership experience, and has worked extensively with U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Research Initiative. Prior to her appointment at UC Davis, Dillard was on the faculty at Cornell University since 1984 as a plant pathology professor.


Michael Hollister
Michael Hollister

Driscoll Strawberry Associates

Michael Hollister is the senior vice president of the market group, for the Americas for Driscoll Strawberry Associates. He oversees sales, category development, marketing and product business management and global expansion. Hollister has been with Driscoll’s for more than 30 years. He is currently a director on the California Strawberry Commission’s board, serving since 1999, and also on multiple government affairs committees and working groups throughout the produce industry.


Ejnar Knudsen
Ejnar Knudsen

AGR Partners

AGR Partners is a growth investor who has invested over $300 million of equity and subordinated debt in the last five years in food processors, manufacturers and agribusinesses.  Ejnar is AGR’s founder and CEO, and oversees the investment strategy. From 2009 to 2012, Ejnar was portfolio manager of Passport Capital’s Agriculture Fund. Prior to Passport Capital, Ejnar served as EVP of Western Milling, a grain and feed milling company that grew from a small California startup to over $1 billion in sales. Ejnar also spent 10 years with Rabobank, in its New York office, managing a loan portfolio and venture capital investments as well as providing corporate advisory services. Ejnar is chair of the Dairy Club and a director of Opal Foods, Icicle Seafoods, Ridley (RIC.ASX), Green Plains (GPRE), Gowan, and Materra Farming. Ejnar is on the board of the California Ag Leadership Foundation and on the steering committee of the Farm Foundation. Ejnar received his B.S. from Cornell University and is a CFA charter holder. Ejnar and his wife, Elizabeth, and their four children, live in Davis, California.


Mike Mendes
Mike Mendes

Wonderful Company

As Vice President, Eastside Farming, for Wonderful Orchards, and as part of the Wonderful Company which is the world’s largest grower of pistachios and almonds as well as a major producer of citrus, Mike (Class 39) supervises the production of some of the most popular and healthy crops that come out of the Golden State. Prior to current position, he was General Manager Agriculture for Newhall Land and Farming as well as previously serving as the Director of Water Resources for Kings River Conservation District and Crop Manager for Woolf Enterprises. He is a graduate of Fresno State with a BS in Agricultural Business who along with his wife, Ellen, are the proud parents of three sons.


Eugene Peterson
Eugene Peterson

Wells Fargo

Eugene Peterson is a senior vice president and the division manager for the National Food & Agribusiness Division of Wells Fargo & Company. Peterson oversees operations in California’s Inland Empire and Central Valley, as well as location across the United States. He is also leading the group’s expansion to untapped markets in the Midwest and on the East Coast. A 28-year financial services veteran, Peterson began his career in 1985 with the USDA, extending and administrating loan programs.


Mike Young
Mike Young

Wegis & Young

Mike Young (Class 35) is principal of Wegis & Young and a fourth generation agricultural entrepreneur. He manages the family operations with his father, uncle, brother and cousin. Wegis & Young has several ag-related businesses under its umbrella. The diversified farming operation grows a variety of tree and row crops and manages more than 100,000 acres of agricultural property for individual and institutional investors. Along with the agricultural interests, Young is a partner in Water Associates, the only OEM (original equipment manufacturer) dealer of Cummins industrial engines in Kern County. Water Associates was named to the Inc. 500/5000 list. In addition, he successfully launched REDtrac systems, an assets management company. Young serves on numerous industry and community boards and is a graduate of University of the Pacific. He resides in Bakersfield with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children, Emma, Halle and Jake.


Board Committees Roster 2016 - 2017

Executive [per the bylaws and charter]
Jeff Elder - Chair
Jim Maxwell – Vice Chair
Gene Peterson – Secretary/Treasurer
Immediate Past Chair – Loren Booth


Audit [per bylaws and charter]
Rick Burnes - Chair
Edwin Camp
Mike Young


Finance & Investment [in accordance with statute, bylaws and charter]
Ejnar Knudsen - Chair
Gene Peterson
Jim Maxwell
Advisor (non-voting): Pierre Tada


Governance [per the bylaws and charter]
Jeff Elder - Chair
Mike Young, AC Board Representative
Karm Bains
Ejnar Knudsen
Michael Hollister

Program Advisory Committee [per the bylaws and charter]
Bob Cherenson, Chair


Deans Council
Dean Helene Dillard, U.C. Davis


Development Advisory Committee [per the bylaws and charter]
Jeff Elder
Edwin Camp
Mike Young
Karm Bains
Jim Maxwell


Contact Us
Sign up for our newsletter:
Make a Difference
Shop CALF
Facebook Cal Ag Leadership YouTube Channel Cal Ag Plate