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The College of Agriculture

Distinguished Alumni

2015 Distinguished Alumna - Teresa Becker

Teresa BeckerCollege of Agriculture, Class of 2007
Co-founder, Heart of Haute

Teresa Becker discovered the value of a learn-by-doing education when she was just 8.

She and her father bought a sewing machine as a birthday present for her mother. Unfortunately, they didn’t know that Becker’s mother hated to sew. Becker begged her father to keep the sewing machine rather than return it to the store. Despite her age, she knew she wanted to make and wear beautiful clothes, partly because she loved following fashion magazines, and European designers, and had to wear drab uniforms to school.

Becker’s father made a deal with her: If she learned how to use the machine in a week, they would keep it. By week’s end, Becker not only knew how to use the machine, she made her mother an apron that she kept for the rest of her life.

Becker began working in the apparel industry in 1978, becoming a fashion designer for several large manufacturers, running her own store in Covina, and teaching at California Design College, an Art Institute School, as well as Chaffey College and Mt. San Antonio College.

She enrolled in the apparel management and marketing program at Cal Poly Pomona because she needed a bachelor’s degree to keep teaching.

After making a vintage-inspired apparel collection as a teaching tool for one of her classes, Becker’s daughter, Amanda, who already had begun an eBay business selling vintage clothing styles, said, “I think I can sell this.” Together, they started their own business. Originally based in their home and called Heartbreaker Fashion, it was a wholesale and retail e-commerce clothing business.

“Cal Poly Pomona gave me quite a few new ways of looking at business. The classes that I took were also very important at helping me grow as a professional, and I applied many of the lessons that I learned in the classroom to my business,” Becker says. “Frequently I was very surprised to see that actual homework assignments were brought into the company and made sales the very next day. So it was very valuable real-time information that I learned.”

Since its creation in 2005, the company, which is now known as Heart of Haute, has grown to employ 16 people and sells to more than 400 boutiques and online businesses in the United States, Europe and Australia. About 80 percent of the clothing line is handled on the Internet, including dresses, tops and skirts. It now occupies an 8,000-square-foot building in San Dimas.

The American Apparel Education Foundation named Becker as its 2006-07 Cal Poly Apparel Student of the Year. In addition, she and her daughter Amanda were named Businesswomen of the Year by the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Since graduating in 2007, she has maintained her connection to Cal Poly Pomona. She has volunteered on campus, donated to the university, and participated in and provided garments for the Apparel Merchandising and Management Fashion Show.

Becker also has served on the Apparel Merchandising and Management’s Industry Advisory Board, and her company has provided internships to students and jobs for alumni.

In addition, she continues to teach as an adjunct professor at Mt. SAC and serves on an advisory board at that college.

2014 Distinguished Alumnus - Marty Evanson

Marty EvansonCollege of Agriculture, Class of 1963
Co-Founder and President, Jobbers Meat Packing Co.
Co-Founder and CEO, Ice Cold Storage Co.

For Marty Evanson, the meat business has always been the family business. His father was a meat distributor in the Vernon area of Los Angeles.  After graduating with a degree in animal husbandry in 1963, Evanson worked for 6 months, saved his earnings and back packed around the world for one year.  He visited 32 countries up and down the globe.  Upon his return he joined his father in the distributing business.  He lost his father just about the time he was getting married in 1971.  Eight years later he and a couple of friends founded Jobbers Meat Packing Co.  They initially started boning beef carcasses and selling primals and sub-primals to the foodservice companies and retail chains.  In 1991 he and his partner built a facility in Vernon and founded Ice Cold Storage Co., a public cold storage operation.  The two businesses complemented each other and allowed them both to grow.

In 2010 Jobbers Meat Packing went through a major revamping.  By this time Marty’s son Andrew had joined the family business.  They created a subsidiary and called it WilMar Ground Meat.  WilMar provides a million pounds of ground beef per week to retailers, food service companies and fast food restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

Throughout the years of success, Evanson has not forgotten his alma mater. In 2013, he pledged $100,000 to support an endowed scholarship for undergraduate animal science students who demonstrate financial need.

Marty has been active in the North American Meat Association and sits as Chairman of the Board.  This past year he has been the recipient of the Richard Knowlton Award, given out once a year to the individual that has brought change to their business.  Mr. Evanson also sits on Cal Poly’s Dean of Agriculture advisory board.

Evanson and his wife of 43 years are parents to four grown children and they have eight grandchildren.

2013 Distinguished Alumnus - Dan Stark

Dan Snark

Throughout his career, Dan Stark has been blessed with good luck. For a man who has made his living in Las Vegas, he’s been fortunate that the odds were on his side.

In 1981, Stark earned a B.S. in agricultural business management from Cal Poly Pomona, where he was a member of the University Union Board, served on the Poly Vue Committee, and also was captain of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Team. He expected to manage a horse ranch as a career, and he did that for seven years at Disneyland after graduation. But then, other opportunities opened up.

“I didn’t really choose my career path as much as I kind of just fell into it by being in the right place at the right time, being prepared to think outside the box and not being afraid to try new things,” he recalls. “The time at Disney allowed me to acquire professional experience in the entertainment/hospitality/tourism industry, which led me to other career opportunities. I greatly enjoy the tourism industry and the varied projects I have been able to work on.”

After leaving Disney, Stark headed up the tourism and marketing efforts of several cities. In 1999, he landed in Las Vegas, working for Boyd Gaming Corp., eventually becoming vice president of corporate marketing. He put some of his Cal Poly Pomona expertise to work when he was charged with elevating the visibility of the company during the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s National Finals Rodeo, which is held every December in Las Vegas.

Earlier this year, he left Boyd Gaming to become an independent executive consultant with Gaming Market Advisors.

Stark also continued his education through the years. In 1989, he received a Certificate in executive management from the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, followed in 1992 by an M.A. in management, also from the Drucker School. He has been recognized and honored professionally numerous times with awards and listings in various “Who’s Who’ publications. He has also donated his time and money to various philanthropic endeavors, including serving on the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association Board.

2012 Distinguished Alumnus - Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson has never been afraid to get dirty. Grounded by the Illinois roots of his mother’s farming family, he embarked on a career in the nursery business, and for more than 30 years he has made earning a living off the land a way of life.

Wilson founded the enormously successful Colorama Wholesale Nursery, choosing the name after seeing it on the side of a paint truck, he recalls. Colorama’s main office is in Azusa, with growing areas in the Coachella Valley town of Thermal, and Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara. In 2008, he bought Piru-based La Verne Nursery Inc., which supplies most of the fruit trees to major nurseries in the southwest region. Currently, his company employs about 350 people, including three ornamental horticulture graduates from Cal Poly Pomona, he reports.

Wilson arrived on campus in the mid-1970s after a three-year stint in the U.S. Army and a short time at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. He received a B.S. degree in ornamental horticulture in 1975 and, after a six-year business partnership with another Cal Poly student, he struck out on his own with Colorama in 1984.

“I always knew I was going to start a company,” he says. “It was just a matter of time.”

Wilson’s success has allowed him to provide much needed assistance to Cal Poly Pomona. He serves on the Plant Science Department Advisory Board and through the years has given plants, materials and equipment to the department. Among the donations was a vertical outdoor strawberry production system. In addition, La Verne Nursery currently is working with the university on a plant-tissue culturing project that will offer an educational experience to future students and provide a monetary return to the department. He also has provided plants and materials to Mt. SAC.

Professionally, he served as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the California Association of Nurserymen and is a member of the Nursery Growers Association of Southern California.

Wilson says he feels extremely fortunate to have been able to do what he loves all these years. “I never thought of doing anything else. It was just a matter of moving forward.”

2011 Distinguished Alumna – Lisa Alley-Zarkades

Lisa Alley-Zarkades

Ms. Lisa Alley-Zarkades graduated in 1982, summa cum laude and valedictorian of the Foods & Nutrition program at Cal Poly Pomona. Today, she is Vice President of the Animal Wellness Group at E. T. Horn. She and her Animal Wellness team focus on the improvement of the overall health, wellness and quality of life of animals. E. T. Horn is one of the nation’s premier distributors of raw materials and chemicals for use in a variety of products including animal foods and supplements. Ms. Alley-Zarkades has over 20 years of food industry experience in technical sales and technical sales management positions. The company’s culinary lab, established when she was Vice President of the FoodTech Group, is an outstanding example of how Lisa and her team set the standard for technical leadership in the specialty ingredient distribution industry.

Ms. Alley-Zarkades is a board member of the World Pet Association; a member of The Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse; and a professional member of the Institute of Food Technologists. She has also participated in the University’s Professor for a Day program and is a member of the Dean’s Council for the College of Agriculture.

“Like many, I really didn’t know what I wanted as a career, but I’ve always had a passion for fitness, nutrition, and animals,” remarked Lisa, “and that’s what led me here to Cal Poly. As a polytechnic university, it provided me with excellent on-the-job training and a wonderful, very practical learning experience. I am just thrilled to be representing and giving back to my Alma Mater.”

2010 Distinguished Alumnus - Dale Stern

Dale Stern

Agricultural Biology, 1984
Stern, Van Vleck & McCarron, LLP

Frequent visits throughout his childhood to his families’ farms and dairies planted a seed of interest in agriculture in Dale Stern. Years later, he is realizing his dream as an agricultural law attorney.

Stern serves as general counsel to more than 50 nonprofit organizations representing many sectors of California’s food industry, ranging from production agriculture to food processors to grocery stores. He also represents many individual members of these trade associations by negotiating and drafting agreements for the sale of agricultural commodities and facilitating their interactions with government agencies. He has served as an expert witness and regularly appears on behalf of clients before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.

After starting his family, and before returning to school at Cal Poly Pomona, Stern worked as a transmission lineman for Southern California Edison, constructing and repairing high-voltage towers throughout the state.

While studying at Cal Poly Pomona, Stern took science and law classes, which fueled his career aspirations. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural biology with an emphasis on government regulation of agriculture. During his undergraduate years, he played on the varsity soccer team and participated in the co-op child care center where his youngest daughter attended. He was awarded the Voorhis Alumni Scholarship for agriculture in his senior year. After college, he went on to earn his law degree from the Martin Luther King, Jr. School of Law at UC Davis.

Stern is a published writer and regularly presents seminars on topics such as the fiduciary duties of directors and officers of nonprofit organizations, and negotiating and drafting sales agreements for agricultural interests.

When he is not advocating for California agriculture, he likes to play golf and travel with his wife Sheree. They have two daughters and five grandchildren, and live just outside Sacramento.

2009 Distinguished Alumnus - John E. Andrews

John E. Andrews

Food Marketing and Agribusiness Management, 1992

John Andrews runs his business, Trinity Farms, with an understanding of every aspect, literally from the ground up.

At Cal Poly Pomona, Andrews majored in agriculture business management where he learned the accounting side of his industry. A minor in agronomy taught him everything from plant biology to the mechanics of farm vehicles.

In addition to his work as CEO of Trinity Farms, Andrews works as office manager for the family farming operation that is owned by his parents and run by the Robert S. Andrews Company. The two San Joaquin Valley companies are major growers, packers, and shippers of lettuce, cabbage, melons and cotton.

As a leader in agriculture for the state, Andrews is a member of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board and the California Melon Research Board. He serves on the board of South Valley Cooperative Ginning and is a member of the Grower Board of Jess Smith and Sons Cotton Brokers. He participates in resolving California’s water issues by working with the Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District.

Continuing his involvement with the College of Agriculture, Andrews welcomes classes to his farming operations every year with additional stops at gins, dairies and other local growers. In 2000, he established the John E. Andrews Leadership Award, which is presented annually.  Andrews is also involved in charity work for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

When he is away from the farm, Andrews enjoys cooking and spending time with his close-knit family.

“I’m most proud of my parents’ support and that of my brother, Danny, whom I work with on a daily basis,” Andrews says. “Our lives are work when needed, and family fulfillments when required, which gives me flexibility and balance.”

2008 Distinguished Alumnus - Kelly F. Duke

Kelly F. DukeOrnamental Horticulture 1982
Vice President, Pre-Construction Services
ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Inc.

A business strategy Kelly Duke developed has taken him to the top of his company and helped his company stay on top of its industry.

Duke prepares budget estimates on construction projects for ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Inc. The strategy he developed involves finding a solution to each customer's problem while operating within the limits of the company's procedural demands and limited tolerance for risk.

His clients include Disney, the Getty Center and the Huntington Library. Duke credits much of his success to his studies at Cal Poly Pomona where he prepared his first of many business plans for hypothetical horticultural venture.

"As students we were compelled to address those things that were not necessarily stated in the curriculum but were necessary and logical to anticipate in the real world," Duke said. "The practice business plans helped me better understand the workings of ValleyCrest and allow me to emphathize with the needs of our customers"

Shortly after graduation, Duke was offered a job with ValleyCrest as a senior estimator. In 1989 he was promoted to lead the Central Estimating Department. Now he serves as a vice president of pre-construction services and is responsible for the preparation of pre-qualification documentation, technical proposal packages and marketing tools for business development representatives.

"What my department constructs are, in essence, the very same financial models that were at the heart of all of those Cal Poly hypothetical business plan term projects," Duke said. "To be recognized by the College of Agriculture as a distinguished alumnus is both an unexpected honor and an inducement to furthering my support of this institution."

Duke shares his excitement for the field of landscaping with high school students as a volunteer for the national Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program at Van Nuys High School and the Pasadena School District.

Distinguished Alumni Past Recipients College of Agriculture

2015 Teresa Becker, ‘07, Apparel Production
2014 Marty Evanson, ‘63 Animal Husbandry
2013 Dan Stark, ‘81, Agribusiness Management
2012 Richard Wilson, ‘75, Horticulture
2011 Lisa Alley-Zarkades, ‘82, Foods and Nutrition
2010 Dale Stern, '84, Agricultural Biology
2009 John E. Andrews, '92, 
Food Marketing and Agribusiness Management
2008 Kelly F. Duke, ‘82, Horticulture
2007 Stuart Sperber, '56, Horticulture
2006 Terry Noriega, '79, Ornamental Horticulture
2005 Norman K. Fang '88, Ornamental Horticulture
2004 Don B. Huntley '60, Animal Husbandry
2003 Michael P. Kenna '79, Horticulture
2002 Linda J. Baisley '74, Foods & Nutrition
2001 Rex O. Baker '62, Ag. Biology, ‘83 Ag. Science
1999 Norman A. Dierker '60, Agribusiness Management.
1998 Raymond N. Watje '59, Agronomy
1997 Sandra S. White '73, Foods & Nutrition
1996 David L. Lannom '70, '89, Orn. Hort./Ag Sci
1995 Mario A. Rosas '77, International Agriculture
1994 Michael W. Tess '71, Animal Science
1993 James E. Connelley '71, Animal Science
1991 John W. Provine '66, Ornamental Horticulture
1990 Alfonso A. Guilin '61, Agribusiness Management.
1989 Lyle G. McNeal '64, Animal Science
1988 Henry R. Agonia '78, Park Administration
1987 David G. Kelley '55, Citrus Fruit Production
1986 James M. Griffin '49, Ornamental Horticulture
1985 Edward Lugo '64, Animal Science
1984 Roger W. Mandigo '61, Animal Science
1983 Jack E. Christensen '82, Botany
1982 Karl I. Bakken '53, Agronomy
1981 Peter C. Hoppe '64, Animal Science
1980 Robert N. Berlin '52, Ornamental Horticulture
1979 Ronald W. Fream '65, Ornamental Horticulture
1978 Gary A. Madenford '70, Soil Science
1977 Warren D. Reed '51, Fruit Industries

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