Noel Stehly is a third generation California farmer, and second generation in San Diego County. Noel is co-owner of Stehly Ranch and Stehly Farms Organics a citrus, avocado, berry, and vegetable operation in Valley Center. With a focus on organic growing and marketing, as well as educating the public on the value of local produce.
Noel has been a member of the SDFB board for some fourteen years and the last six on the executive committee. He has also represented San Diego County on the California Farm Bureau's Citrus and Avocado advisory committee, and represented the State Farm Bureau at the National Citrus advisory committee four times. He participated and graduated from the California Ag Resource Training class (CART) and was an alternate for the California Avocado Commission, representing avocado growers from Valley Center and San Diego in general for four years.
Currently, Noel is part of San Diego's Farm to School task force, which connects local growers with schools throughout the county. With the ultimate goal of providing local fruits and vegetables to our elementary, middle and high school students throughout the County.
Noel is a 1992 graduate of the University of San Diego with a degree in International Relations. He is married to his beautiful wife Stella, and together they have three beautiful daughters, Eleni 5, Amalia 4 and Sophia 1.
1st Vice-President: : Julie Walker
Julie is co-owner and founder of Obra Verde Growers in Valley Center, California, along with her husband Joe, since 1975. Specializing in Australian and South African cut flowers and plants, Obra Verde Growers is the exclusive distributor in the United States of hybrid Australian plants, as granted by the Department of Primary Industries out of Western Australia.
Julie is currently a SDFB board member and executive committee member, serving as Secretary. She is also a member of the CFBF Transportation, Education and Health Committee in Sacramento. She has chaired the SD County Fair Farm Bureau exhibit for the past two years.
Julie is a past board and executive committee member of the CA Association of Flower Growers and Shippers, also serving as the Fun N Sun Convention Chair in 2003 and the Grower Tour Chair in 2002. She served as a member of the Transportation Committee and chaired the Millennium Committee.
She also was the grower tour coordinator for the International Protea Association Convention in 2006.
Julie served as a board member for the SD Flower and Plant Association for two years.
Julie and Joe have three incredible children, Jessica, an environmental biologist; Micah, a GPS grade checker; and Matthew, currently completing studies in recording arts in Mass Communication.
They have two beautiful grandchildren, Avery and Nathaniel, who belong to Jessica and her husband, Damon.
2nd Vice President :
Treasurer/CFBF Director, District 1 (Imperial and San Diego counties): Janet Silva Kister
Janet Silva Kister is the co-owner of Sunlet Nursery, Inc., in Fallbrook with her husband John. Founded by the Kister's on five acres in 1985, Sunlet Nursery, Inc. has grown to 25 acres and employs a staff of 85.
Specializing in growing florist quality indoor flowering plants and selected foliage plants for wholesale customers throughout the United States, the Sunlet Nursery name gained national recognition for introducing the Kimberley Queen® fern into the United States from Australia and for their award winning Jester's Crown USPP #16531 fern.
Ms. Kister's trade affiliations have included terms as President of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, President of the San Diego County Flower and Plant Association, President of the Orange County Chapter of the California Association of Nurserymen, board member of the Society of American Florists, and as a founding director of the San Diego Agricultural Energy Cooperative. She has also served as Chairperson of the Southern California Plant Tour Days which received Floral Management's Marketer of the Year award in 2000, and is one of the founders of the California Nursery Roundtable. She currently serves on the California Farm Bureau Horticulture Commodity Advisory Committee, Policy Recommendation Committee and the California Department of Food and Agriculture Nursery Advisory Task Force. In recognition for her contributions to the nursery industry, she was honored as the San Diego County Flower and Plant Association's "Person of the Year" in 1998. She was also honored as the 66th Assembly District Woman of the Year in 2004 and the San Diego County Farmer of the Year in 2006. Her community service includes serving as a trustee of Quail Botanical Gardens.
Within the agriculture community, Janet takes particular interest in education. Locally she is a director of the San Diego County Ag in the Classroom Foundation and serves as the chair of the Farm Bureau's Scholarship Committee. On a nationwide basis, she is a director of the Joseph Shinoda Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarship to students seeking university degrees in floriculture and horticulture
A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, College of Agriculture Technology, she also holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University. Janet and John have two daughters and two grandchildren.
Mike Anthony Mellano
Michael Anthony Mellano, Ph.D. is Vice President of Production for Mellano & Company, a third generation cut flower production and distribution operation in San Luis Rey, California. He joined the family business in 1988 after graduating from UCR.
He is currently a commissioner for the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) and chairman of the CCFC Research Committee. In addition he is a member of the USDA Floriculture Initiative Task Force, 1st VP of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, Board of Director for the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation and was recently appointed by the University of California as their representative to the “Council for Agricultural Research, Extension & Teaching”.
Michael in the past also served as chairman for the California Ornamental Research Federation (CORF), on the UC Davis Environmental Horticulture Department Advisory Committee and the grower representative to the USDA-Pacific Area Wide Program for Methyl Bromide Alternatives.
Michael received his B.S. in Plant Science and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California Riverside where he focused on the genetics of bacterial pathogens and copper resistance.
Michael is married to Valerie Mellano, Ph.D. and they have four wonderful children, Chris, Joey, Kathleen & Suzanne, who keep them busy with their many academic and athletic activities. Chris will be graduating soon from USC medical and plans to specialize in orthopedic trauma, Joey is a soon to be Junior at Brown University in Providence, Kathleen is deciding on colleges at this moment, & Suzi is a freshman at Fallbrook High
SDCFB Executive Director:
Eric Larson is the Executive Director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. He has held that position since January 1997. Eric began working in San Diego County's agricultural industry in 1971. His professional activities have included two years as president of the San Diego County Flower and Plant Association. He also serves as a director of the Southern California Water Committee and a member of the Southern California Ag Water Team. In addition to his work in agriculture, he served two terms as a member of the Carlsbad City Council and is a past director of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, the San Diego County Water Authority, and the Encina Wastewater Authority.
Eric and his wife Jennifer live in Carlsbad and have two grown sons.