By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director
Two months ago the outlook for California Agricultural Education looked desolate. Funding for all Career Technical Education (CTE) specialty programs faced a 50% cut. These cuts specifically targeted the Agricultural Incentive Grant (AIG), Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) and the K-12 Strong Work Force (K-12 SWF) grants. Universally, K-14 schools and universities all faced 10% reductions in general operating funds. The cancellation of the State FFA Leadership Conference threatened to financially bankrupt the organization. California FFA students were in jeopardy of losing all Career Development Events (CDE) and Leadership Development Events (LDE). Finally, the cancellation of the 101 California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) conference symbolized the termination of the last semblance of normalcy in our profession for the year.
As we approach mid-July, the landscape of agricultural education in California looks much different. The California FFA successfully completed all delegate business, elected six new state officers, virtually celebrated the accomplishments of the membership, and culminated the year’s events with a virtual celebration. Many CDE’s and LDE’s were successfully completed via distance. The California FFA Association’s budget closed out the fiscal year in the black. AIG, CTEIG, and K-12 SWF all have been restored in the budget signed by the Governor prior to the July 1 deadline. Lastly, CATA successfully completed a virtual conference that included teacher recognition, organizational business, and professional development.
We are fortunate in the way things played out, taking into consideration the current events of California and to a greater degree the world. Special thanks go out to all of you who helped navigate the spring of 2020.
Thank you to the ag teachers of California that figured out how to engage students from a distance, keep school farms functioning, put on CDE events, replaced the experience of cancelled livestock shows and sales, coach CDEs and LDEs, facilitate section, regional, and state CATA events, while simultaneously attending to the needs of your own families.
Gratitude to the CATA Governing Board for meeting weekly to make the difficult decisions needed to move the profession forward. Thank you for always thinking of the best way to serve the teachers and students that you represent.
The FFA Adult Board met twice a month to insure the financial stability of California FFA. Your guidance in the face of a potentially catastrophic financial situation was invaluable and truly appreciated.
State Staff was asked to do more than ever this spring. Thank you for moving regional and sectional function to the digital world, supporting students and teachers and providing stability in an uncertain environment.
Big props to the FFA Center Staff for going above and beyond to meet the changing needs of the students and teachers that we serve. Processing refunds for numerous events, coordinating and shipping of awards all over California, and providing answers to the numerous questions that came into the Center.
Also thank you to teacher educators, CATIP coordinators and mentors, FFA Foundation Board and staff, and everyone else that pulled together to get us through the spring. Your efforts and hard work was noticed and has paid off.
Next fall could be more challenging than the spring, potential budget cuts loom, there is uncertainty in the structure of school schedules, possible limits on teacher and student travel, and the uncertainty of public health guidelines all make the new school year uncertain at best. What is known is that ag education will continue to adapt and innovate to meet the needs of our students, schools, communities, and state.
Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn., firstname.lastname@example.org, 209 744-1605
For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/