California Department of Education Update, April 2020

By: Charles Parker, California Department of Education, State FFA Advisor

I woke up in a cold sweat, shaking in disbelief at what I had just dreamed! It had to be the strangest nightmare I’ve ever had. There was this strange disease that was taking over the earth and closing down countries. Schools were closed, sporting events disappeared and I could not see my family. As I calmed down and rose from the damp sheets, I clicked on the TV to catch the morning news. NO! It can’t be, not today, the world can’t be coming to an end. 

My nightmare was reality. Who would have ever thought this could happen to us. With all the science research and attention to minor ailments, how could this have happened? Even today I find myself waiting to awake from my nightmare and find the world as it should be.

As uncomfortable as I feel, I have not been affected personally; at least not yet. There are families that have not been able to say their goodbyes to loved ones. I find myself wanting to stay in my comfort zone and continue to operate as usual. But it is not business as usual.

I feel for seniors as they are missing that opportunity to celebrate the last four years, either in high school or college. I feel for the student who had the lead in the school play that was about to open. I feel for the athlete that was hoping to have a great season and sign that letter of intent with the college of their choice. Every single person has been affected by this wicked disease.

The reality of the situation continues to take shape as days progress into weeks, and weeks into months. It is hard to grasp the true impact as there is no end in sight, at least not yet. When the light at the end of the tunnel becomes bright, it will be time to regroup. 

It is with hope that we look toward the future and begin to develop a plan. This plan will not be ideal and it most certainly will change, but it will be the beginning of the healing process. We do not have all the answers at this time. It will take all of us, the entire agricultural education family, for any plan to work.

At this time, the State FFA Officers and Mr. White are developing an engaging virtual State FFA Leadership Conference. Details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.The hope is that the event will be one that builds on our members and becomes a showcase for their accomplishments.

State Proficiency Awards will be announced April 15 and press releases will be posted daily on our many social media pages. May 1 will find the scholarship recipients announced. Then, on May 15 the Agriscience Fair results will be released.

This month, the State Officers are coordinating the first ever “FFA Idol” competition. FFA members are displaying their talent in an April Madness format where two members will be paired daily with the one receiving the biggest support by the public, advancing to the next round. The competition will culminate with the crowning of the State Winner in early May. To watch the competition, head to our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Committees have been formulated around each career development event in the hopes of identifying alternatives as we move towards a format for state finals. We have asked coaches to review the curricular code and look closely to determine what “must be” included. They have also been tasked with developing a virtual contest, should that be determined as the best alternative.

No, business will not be as usual. But that does not mean that we cannot find ways to celebrate the accomplishments of our members and find ways to allow students to begin the healing process. Yes, there will continue to be changes in any plan that we come up with. Yes, there will always be those that will not appreciate the way things are going. But, as long as we communicate with each other, we will have a plan.

As I prepare to return to my bed for the evening, I shake my head and can only hope that when I awake, this will all be a dream…

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

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