George Ray, past president of the Imperial County Farm Bureau, said of nominating Gilbert: "I see no reason to wait until he retires to recognize his service to the Farm Bureau and agriculture. Already he has accomplished far more than most people accomplish in a lifetime."
Gilbert and his wife, Cassie, farm 700 acres, primarily devoted to wheat, cotton and Bermuda grass.
Gilbert, known for his ability to analyze arcane and complicated subjects and make them understandable to others, according to a press release, has been a member of the ICFB board since 1967.
He served as president of the ICFB from 1971 to 1973 and has represented the group at the CFBF House of Delegates for many years. He also has been a member of numerous CFBF committees and has represented the state as a voting delegate and alternate to the American Farm Bureau Federation. He is chairman of the AFBF wheat committee.
His service to the community includes terms on the Imperial County Agricultural Soils Conservation Service and the Imperial Unified School District Board, including two years as president. He has been a member of Imperial Irrigation District committees for more than 15 years and is an expert on the ramifications of the proposed transfer of Imperial Valley conserved water to San Diego, according to a press release.
He served 12 years as a member and alternate on the California Wheat Commission and is a member of the Imperial Grain Growers, the county Whitefly Management Committee and other community groups, including the Church of Christ and Kiwanis Club in El Centro.
The Gilberts have four children: son, Stanley of Houston and daughters Laura of Bishop, Colleen of Millbrae and Candace of San Diego.
Fred Machado, a Fresno-area farmer, also received the distinguished service award this year. The award has been presented by CFBF since 1953.