What Matters Most?

By Travis Cardoso, CATA Operations Division Chair

In this time of uncertainty, we find ourselves having more time for reflection. An overarching theme that has been reflected when speaking to many of you from up and down the state is, “what matters most?” Reflection has always been an important part of growth in agricultural education, and given these times, it is time to reflect upon what is most important to us as agriculture educators. We look to the past, present and future in this time of need but sometimes we still cannot find quite what we are looking for…that is completely justified.

For some, we have put family first. We have reached out via phone, text, Zoom and even letter, to those most important to us. Some of us have even gone shopping for members of our family who cannot go out on their own. The grocery lists have even deemed some items we definitely may have taken for granted, as “essential” (we all know what I am talking about). In speaking to many of you who have reached out, we have even taken some members of our CATA family under your wing, and used this as a time to mentor and check-in with those less experienced members of our family. The profession continues to adapt and overcome many curveballs that have been thrown at us and we can evolve with the best of them. There is a reason this profession has been around for over 100 years and realize that we will continue to get through this; together.

For some, we have put our students first. We have gone about transitioning to online/distance learning and put our blood, sweat and tears into learning a new online education format to make sure our students are best served in this time of need. Some of you are even teaching your children in your class and now you are not just their agriculture instructor, you have become experts in math, science, English, history, drama, art, band, photography, foreign language, and physical education, the whole time telling yourself that you deserve a multiple subject credential after this is all said and done. The long days and nights that we have always had are still there and you are still serving your students best interests, and the only thing that has changed is the platform for delivery. Your students care about you and know that you are there for them in many ways. What we do in and out of the classroom still has meaning and we will continue to get through this; together.

For some, this is year one in our glorious profession. The thought may be running through your head, how did I get here? The more experienced teachers in our profession want you to know that we can and we will help you but now, more than ever, you are going to have to ask for it; we literally cannot see you. We hope that you do not get all caught up in the moment and start panicking, everything will be there when you get back: the classroom, CDE’s, SAE’s and the community. How we react and learn from this will be your biggest accomplishment, this is the hardest thing many of us and our students have had to go through. There is never a perfect substitute for you being in the classroom, and this is your chance to take a step back and realize that we will continue to get through this; together.

For all, we continue to do the things that matter most. These are just a few of the many different examples of what matters most. The challenge now, is for you to reflect on what is not mentioned and continue to reach out to those in need.This family has done great things in the past and present and we look forward to what the future brings (sooner rather than later). The chance for us to be with those that are special to us, be there for our students and be there for those that have never experienced this will always be there, it is just now amplified by the current orders. Please do not forget just because they are under a microscope now, means that they will go away when this is all over. Keep being great and continuing to be the servant leaders that made me want to join this profession a decade ago and realize that we will continue to get through this; together.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

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