Young Historian Award

The Young Historian Awards were given out at the Annual Vintage Picnic. First place of $500 went to Chloe DeLeissegues who attends St. Francis Catholic School. She wrote about “Women Pioneers of the Pajaro Valley”. Second place of $250 went to Jailene Lazaro who attends Cabrillo College and wrote “History of S. Martinelli & Co”. Three other participants were Germain Medina (Cabrillo College), Stephanie Chavez (Watsonville High), and Chantal Nieto (Ceiba College Prep).


The Young Historian Award was initiated by a donor to The Santa Cruz Community Foundation in respectful memory of Betty Lewis, Watsonville Historian, Alzora Snyder, Margaret Hayes, Hubert Wyckoff, Bernice Porter and many others who have illuminated our heritage as the foundation of the future for the Pajaro Valley. The donor approached the Pajaro Valley Historical Association (PVHA) about administering this award and the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County about providing for the award from a donor advised fund supported by the donor. The PVHA expressed interest in administering the award, and agreed to outlining criteria for the award, setting up the application process, and fulfilling other responsibilities Award Description The Young Historian Award will be offered annually to an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the study, conservation/preservation, or enhancement of the history of the Pajaro Valley. The award will be a single award of $500. Eligible Activities/Projects The scope of appropriate activities/projects may include regions adjacent to the Pajaro Valley as long as it is demonstrated how they impact the Pajaro Valley, and may be broadly interpreted to include a variety of efforts, including but not limited to the following:

  • research papers, including those that have been prepared as a class assignment from a high school or college/university
  • publications/media
  • volunteer work for an organization (organization must provide documentation of volunteer hours)
  • being a docent
  • restoration of objects or sites
  • public performance or re-enactments
  • art or exhibits depicting local history
  • oral histories
  • genealogical studies
  • digital documentaries

Eligible projects must have taken place or been completed within the last 12 months prior to the application deadline. In the case of volunteer activities, some portion of the service must have occurred in the last 12 months prior to the application deadline. Applicant Criteria The recipient of the award shall be an individual or group who:

  • Meet the age criteria and, in the case of a group project, have a majority of members between the ages of 16 and 25 when engaged in the activity/project
  • Did not receive any compensation for the activity or project other than for materials, travel expenses or other out-of-pocket costs
  • Related to the activity or project
  • Have not received the Young Historian Award in a previous year. However previous applicants for the Young Historians Award are encouraged to re-apply.

Application/Selection Process Applications must be self-initiated. Applicants must complete and submit an application to the PVHA prior to the deadline. Applications will be available at the PVHA, and also available on website at,  as well as other locations to be determined. In addition to the application, the applicant must provide a letter of recommendation from a person or organization that is familiar with the applicant’s project or activity. Selection of the award recipient will be determined by a panel composed of at least three individuals recognized for their knowledge of the history of the Pajaro Valley. The panel will be convened by the PVHA. Panelists may NOT include individuals who have family members among the applicants. Panelists may include individuals who may have written letters of recommendation for the applicants, but must excuse themselves from voting in the selections. The panel will review all applications and in selecting the winner the panel will place priority on the following considerations:

  • How closely the project/activity relates to the Pajaro Valley
  • The commitment/perseverance of the applicant to the project/activity
  • The quality of the project/activity – especially as it relates to the age of the applicant

Additional consideration will be given to projects/activities that show creativity, initiative, collaboration, and/or innovation. Application Timeline (2017) Mid-Late January:              Applications available Submission Deadline:        June 1, 2017 Selection & Notification (2017)

  • Early May            PVHA selects panelists
  • Late May              Winner selected
  • Mid June              The winner & other applicants will be notified individually. Then the winner will be announced to the public.
  • Vintage Picnic      Winner honored at PVHA event. PVHA will present a check to winner on July 1.

MORE INFORMATION: QUESTIONS:   Contact the Pajaro Valley Historical Association at or phone (831)722-0305, attention Susan Jacobs. The Young Historian Award is made possible by a donor fund at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and supported by the Pajaro Valley Historical Association

Past Young Historian Award Recipients

The Young Historian Award was established in 2009 by a donor through The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County to encourage an interest in Pajaro Valley history. This competition is open to young people between the ages of 16 and 25 and the award was made possible by the donor's Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz Country.


mollyThe $500 prize was awarded to Molly DeCastongrene for her research paper on Ken Sears, basketball star at Watsonvllle High School, a professional basketball player In the 1950's and 1960's and presently a local resident. Her outstanding presentation highlighting the factual information of his career, as well as her historical perspective of educating young people was deemed by the Judging panel to flt all the criteria of the award. She wrote of  "the need to honor our local heroes, because It fosters a sense of community and shows kids growing up around here that anything Is possible." In addition, four other projects, including a booklet of Watsonvllle Apple labels by Max Bowman, Royal Oaks Park restoration by Nicholas Delelssegues , a booklet on Victorian homes by Vincent lrao, and a research project on the establishment of the Pajaro Valley Water Management Association by Roger Marin were each awarded $100.


2014 Young Historian Award Recipient Ashley Lopez is currently a student at CSUMB. She received the award for her idea to write her family's history and make a file for the PVHA archive to have in their records so that other family members and future family members can find the information and photos. She plans for this to be an ongoing project.


In 2013 the Young Historian Award was awarded to multiple recipients. The main award went to Mari Cervantes, a student at Watsonville High School, for her work producing a DVD "Memories Last Forever", to accompany the Centennial High School book which was produced in 1992. Mari, through eye-catching graphics in addition to music has reproduced old photographs of the high school and went beyond 1992 to the present with additional photographs of WHS. A number of persons viewing the DVD have expressed interest in having this at a class reunion. Mari bridged the historical gap when she ended her presentation with "Once you become a Wildcat, you will always be a Wildcat." And we all agree! In addition, the following students were also awarded a prize of $100.00:

  • Jacob Dobler, a senior at St. Francis High School, for his history of Watsonville and the part his family- owned agricultural business has played in that history.
  • Johnny Musser, a student at CSUMB, for his work as a volunteer in the digitization process at PVHA.
  • Rachel Oakden, a student at Watsonville High School, for her work at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • Alex Solano, a student at Monte Vista High School, for an essay in praise of his hard working grandfather who has contributed many years to our community.


The prize was awarded to St. Francis Central Coast Catholic High School sophomore Austin Paz Nethercutt. His project was an Eagle Scout Project, he created a prayer garden at his alma mater Moreland Notre Dame School in Watsonville. He put in a Statue of The Virgen de Guadalupe.  There were two reasons he chose this particular statue. The first was his own Hispanic heritage and the second one being that Watsonville has a large Hispanic population. This project showed Austin's love of his home, school and heritage.

Abigail Mango & Grandfather Simplicio2011

The prize was awarded to Abigail Magno. As she said in her essay which accompanied her submission, ”I have lived in the Pajaro Valley my entire life, more in particular, Watsonville. For seventeen years I have grown up as a person in which two cultures have come together, a blend of white American and Filipino. These cultures have traveled across the wastelands of the Dust Bowl and the warm waters of the Pacific. Taken root in the golden land of California. Worked to create Abigail Magno, a junior in high school trying to explore those very roots that have taken hold in the small town of Watsonville." The oral history she has done with her grandfather traces his life from the Philippines to the pineapple plantations of Hawaii and eventually to Watsonville. Abby is a very talented young artist and uses the medium of the graphic novel to illustrate this journey. She has truly captured the essence of her grandfather’s story and she tells it with maturity and insight.


The prize was shared by three applicants, Alex Santana for his volunteer work at PVHA and subsequent report, Yannett Munguia for her volunteer work at Jacob's Heart and a well researched paper on the local non-profit organization and her involvement with it, and Lauren Lippman for her creation of a timeline showing the history and development of the Watsonville Airport.


The first $500 prize was awarded to two 17 year old sisters, Jacque and Jesse Simmons, from Watsonville High School for their video work documenting the first Gay Pride parade in Watsonville. Their sensitive treatment of an oftentimes controversial issue is applauded by the Pajaro Valley Historical Association and their technical work was outstanding. Two other applicants could not be overlooked and were each awarded a $100 prize. The documentary created by Alex Ivany, a 16 year old from Santa Cruz High School showed the life and struggles of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Lindsey Roberts along with a group of college students and Watsonville residents started a Young Farmers and Ranchers organization under the auspices of the Farm Bureau.


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