Sacramento Scene, March 2020: Doing What Is Best For Kids

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Our sympathies go out to the families and communities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The response to this virus has resulted in postponements, cancellations and a general feeling of uncertainty. The list of school closures, travel bans, field day cancellations and counties placed on “shelter in place” grows by the hour. As unnerving and difficult as these events are, we need to be mindful of the health and well-being of our families, students and communities. Times like these require that we ag teachers do something that does not come naturally: placing a priority on ourselves. 

The current situation is very fluid and changes by the minute, the following actions that are being taken by CATA in response to current events:

  • Staff members at the FFA Center have the option of working from home, but may work in the office if they so choose. 
  • Monitoring of the daily press releases from Governor Newsom, the California Department of Public Health, Center for Disease Control as they relate to COVID-19.
  • Daily conversations (often much more frequent) with Mr. Parker and the state staff at the California Department of Education in regards to the current status of COVID-19 and how it is affecting both FFA members and agriculture teachers state wide. 
  • Daily communication with representatives from Mosaic, the management company that assists CA FFA with contracts for the State FFA Conference. 
  • Weekly conference calls with the FFA Adult Board updating them on the current financial status of FFA. From a fiscal perspective, we have been able to reallocate or obtain refunds for cancelled or postponed events to minimize potential losses. 
  • Frequent conversations and emails with Visit Anaheim, the event manager at the Anaheim Convention Center, event management at Knott’s Berry Farm and numerous hotels in the Anaheim area about existing contracts for Conference 2020.  
  • Regular communication with UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo about upcoming FFA and CATA events on their campuses.  

The remainder of the semester and this coming summer will be unfamiliar and challenging for all of us. The only thing that we know for sure is that ag teachers are resilient problem solvers that always find a way. I was recently reminded of Bob Heuvel’s guiding principle in directing ag education for 30 plus years: “All of the difficult decisions in education are actually really easy…you decide by doing what is best for kids.” Sound advice in a time when we will all be facing countless decisions with little to no precedent. 

Be well, take care of yourselves and your families.

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Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.mpatton@calagteachers.org209 744-1605

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

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