Ron Carli, a former Sonoma County 4-H Club member who heads one of the largest Farm Credit cooperatives in the United States, is the 2012 recipient of the 4-H Alumni Recognition Award. The 4-H Alumni Award, presented by the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County, honors a former Sonoma County 4-H Club member who upholds the values of leadership, citizenship and community service, which are the hallmarks of the 4-H program. A Santa Rosa resident , Carli will be recognized at the 4-H Foundation Barbecue on Sept. 15 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor.
Carli, hailed as one of California’s most influential business leaders, is the chief executive officer of Santa Rosa-based American AgCredit. Under Carli’s leadership, American AgCredit, which provides financing to more than 6,000 farmers and ranchers in five states, has grown from $50 million to $5.7 billion in assets. He oversees 400 employees.
Even with his demanding job, Carli gives back to the community in the best 4-H tradition. He served for 16 years as the swine leader for the Steuben 4-H Club and served as a director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County for 12 years. American AgCredit is a major benefactor to 4-H as well as other agricultural and community groups.
Carli credits his drive, determination and leadership to the experiences he had as a member of the Petaluma 4-H Club and Petaluma FFA. He grew up on a small dairy, starting to milk cows on a daily basis when he was 14. He raised registered Jersey cattle and showed them at area fairs as well as the Cow Palace and California State Fair. The ranch chores gave him an appreciation for the value of hard work and exhibiting his cows at the fairs fostered a sense of responsibility and pride in doing well.
“4- H is an excellent program that channels childrens’ energy in a direction that is positive,” said Carli. “It molds them into good citizens and community leaders.”
Carli’s three children, Ben, Jenna and Jill, were all members of the 4-H program. The former 4-H’er is looking to the day when his grandchildren will wear the white and green.