The Corcoran Journal has begun publishing a series of articles which will visit past Colonel James G. Boswell Scholarship winners and update local residents on where they are now. This week The Journal will feature Boswell Scholar Peter Michael Rietkerk.
Peter, 36, is a current resident of Ripon. He earned the Col. J.G. Boswell Scholarship in 2001 and it’s easy to see why he was chosen for the honor.
While a Panther at Corcoran high School, Peter’s extra-curricular list is long. He was involved in Band, Percussion. He served as Chapter President and Sectional officer for Future Farmers of America (FFA). Peter was president of Corcoran 4H Club. He was also involved in the California Scholarship Federation, Interact and the Kings County Junior Fair Board; and he played basketball and golf.
After graduation, Peter attended California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo from 2001-2005 and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bio Resource and Agricultural Engineering. He was also involved in the Agricultural Engineering Society and the Newman Catholic Center
After obtaining his BS degree, Rietkerk decided to work towards his Master’s degree and attended University of California, Davis from 2006-2008 and earned his Masters of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Currently, Peter is the General Manager for the South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) in Manteca. South San Joaquin Irrigation District is a multi-faceted public agency serving 72,000 acres in southern San Joaquin County, CA. SSJID provides irrigation water for approximately 56,000 agricultural acres, and wholesales treated drinking water to 193,000 residents in Tracy, Manteca, and Lathrop. The District water source is senior water rights on the Stanislaus River. SSJID, along with its sister agency, Oakdale Irrigation District, owns and operates dams, reservoirs and hydropower operations in the Central Sierras along the Stanislaus River. SSJID has approximately 100 employees. Rietkerk is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the organization, working with a locally elected board and staff to set policy and direct activities related to domestic water treatment and irrigation service, water resources, reservoir, power generation, and general administration.
Peter says his upbringing guided him to pursue his current career.
“Growing up in our family farming business, I always had interest in irrigation and water resources, and was familiar with Corcoran Irrigation District. This influenced my decision to go to Cal Poly. While at Cal Poly, I worked at the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly. I also interned at a small irrigation district one summer in Patterson California, providing surveying, engineering, and mapping services,” Rietkerk added. “While attending grad school at Davis, I interned at a water resources and civil engineering firm called West Yost Associates, where I worked on water hydraulics, pipeline design, treatment plant design, and water resources related work. After completing my Master’s degree, I started full time at West Yost, eventually moving to Roseville with my wife Michelle.”
In 2010, shortly after receiving his Professional Engineering license (civil), Peter applied for the General Manager position at Patterson Irrigation District and started working there in February 2010. He and his wife then moved the family to Ripon. After working at Patterson for over five years, I was happy to receive an opportunity to work at SSJID in the same role.
“SSJID was closer to home, and provided additional and unique opportunities for me and my family,” Rietkerk said.
Peter and his wife, Michelle whom he met at Cal Poly, have four kids, Lucas, nine-years-old, Claire, seven, and five-year-old twins Natalie and Kaitlyn.
Peter keeps busy by participating in the kids’ sports activities which include soccer, water polo, baseball and swimming. The couple also loves to go camping with the family and peter has a passion for cycling. Last year he cycled 100 miles around Lake Tahoe. He also cycles for a cause and raises money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. He is a member of the Manteca Rotary Club and participates in fundraising and scholarship programs. He is also involved in Love Ripon, which is an organization that does community service projects. And, Camp Taylor, a non-profit camp dedicated to helping kids with congenital heart disease is another organization he volunteers with.
Rietkerk says winning the Boswell scholarship has transformed his life.
“The J.G. Boswell Scholarship impacted my approach to school at Corcoran High, as well as life thereafter. While at CHS, I always felt compelled to compete for the scholarship and approach my studies and student activities with that in mind. It gave me added incentive to always do my best. I have significant appreciation for the scholarship program because it gave me the opportunity to choose a preferred college without having to significantly weigh costs in the decision. It allowed me to go to a school with a degree program that resonated with my passion for water and agriculture,” Rietkerk commented. “I may not have pursued a Master’s degree if I had significant undergraduate debt. The scholarship gave me a leg-up financially so that I could continue my education and pursue a Master’s Degree program.”
And, what advice would Peter give to new recipients of the Col. J.G. Boswell Scholarship?
“First I would say Congratulations! It’s a great honor and tradition to be a recipient of the Boswell Scholarship, and a unique opportunity for Corcoran students. I’m pleased to hear that the scholarship foundation is continuing to provide this opportunity. Have a great time at college, and make sure to balance studies with friendships. I would recommend that you choose a degree program that points you in the direction of your future career interests. You’ll be surprised at what is out there for opportunities after college with a degree. The degree is important, and it’s just the start in the grander scheme. As long as you continue to work hard and commit to being a life-long learner, you will be successful.” Peter remarked.
Peter is the son of Pete and Ernestina Rietkerk of Corcoran. The annual scholarships are provided to Corcoran High School seniors by The James G. Boswell Foundation.