MODESTO -- Paul Wenger thought his sons were harvesting walnuts Thursday morning.
Instead, they were in on a surprise for their father, a Modesto-area nut grower and president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Wenger received the 50th annual Good Egg Award, presented by the state's egg industry to a supporter of agriculture.
"He's truly an agricultural leader of the highest order," said presenter Richard Matteis, administrator at the Farm Bureau's office in Sacramento.
The award was part of the Good Egg Breakfast, which drew about 330 people to the DoubleTree Hotel in Modesto.
They dined on omelets they made themselves after getting tips from Howard Helmer of New York City, who bills himself as "the world's fastest omelet maker."
The breakfast raised scholarship money for agriculture students at Modesto Junior College.
The Good Egg Award has gone to a diverse group, from egg industry veterans to Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970.
Wenger has been state Farm Bureau president since late 2009. He became a statewide officer in 1997 and has been president of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.
Matteis cited Wenger's work on issues such as water, taxes and immigration, as well as his support for egg producers.
Wenger was joined on the stage by his wife, Deborah, and other family members.
"So, who's harvesting walnuts today?" he asked.
Wenger said he felt humbled to be among the other Good Egg winners over the past half-century.
"I truly have not arrived there yet," he said. "There's truly a lot more to do."
The breakfast was put on by the county Farm Bureau, the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association, the California Poultry Federation and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.