Jericho Tobin, the inaugural recipient of the Representative Clift Tsuji Memorial Endowed Scholarship for Hawai‘i Community College Agriculture Program, celebrated the gift at a luncheon recently with Tsuji’s son, Ash Tsuji; Tsuji’s former campaign manager, Jack Fujii; and Hawai‘i CC Agriculture Professor Lew Nakamura.
Tobin received the scholarship this past academic year and graduated from the Hawai‘i CC Agriculture program on May 10.
“It’s an honor to receive this scholarship and carry on the legacy of agriculture on Hawai‘i Island that Representative Tsuji cared so much about,” said Tobin, who has also earned a degree in Culinary Arts from Hawai‘i CC. “This scholarship has helped me start my own farm and further my ultimate goal of opening a farm-to-table restaurant.”
Tsuji passed away in 2016, and had served as a Hawai‘i Island legislator representing House District 2, including Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaʻewa and Waiākea. Tsuji was chairman of the House agriculture committee and was named the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year in 2015. He was a passionate proponent of agriculture and biotechnology, a legacy that lives on in the memorial scholarship.
Friends, supporters and family members contributed more than $81,000 to fund two endowed scholarships for Hawai’i Community College and University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo students pursuing degrees in agriculture.
Ash Tsuji said his father’s devotion to agriculture grew from his roots in the plantation culture of Hawai‘i Island where people used the resources at hand to get by, which included relying on the land to provide produce.
“I think for him, it was always part of his lifestyle,” said Ash Tsuji. “Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you and the community.”
More About Clift Tsuji
Clift Tsuji was a Hawaiʻi Island state representative and an alumnus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Born and raised in Pāpaʻikou, Tsuji was a graduate of Hilo High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from UH Mānoa’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences. He also attended the University of Washington, Pacific Coast Banking School.
Tsuji served in the U.S. Army Reserve, 442nd Infantry, Company B, Hilo, from 1959 to 1965.
He was also active with the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, Hawaiʻi Island Japanese Community Association, Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Kumamoto Kenjin Kai.
Story credit: Thatcher Moats, Hawai‘i Community College