CATA Hall of Fame Class of 2020

The CATA Hall of Fame is one of the most distinguished awards bestowed upon CATA members.  Eligibility for induction begins three calendar years after official retirement. A retired agriculture educator is a person who has retired from Agriculture Education and has gone through the CATA recognition process or is an agricultural educator who has died in service. 

Applications for the Hall of Fame are evaluated by a scoring committee of past CATA presidents and/or Hall of Fame inductees. A person is inducted into the CATA Hall of Fame if deemed “qualified” by a majority vote of this selection committee.

The following individuals make up the 2020 CATA Hall of Fame Class:

Mark A. Anglin

Hilmar High School 1977-1980

Atwater High School 1980-1997

Modesto Junior College 1997-2015

Teacher of Excellence 1988

Honorary American Degree 1988

California FFA Distinguished Service Citation 1992

Mark Anglin was raised on his family’s dairy farm first in Bryan, Texas, then eventually moving to Hilmar, California. Mark’s agriculture teacher and lifelong mentor Ed Fischer greatly impacted his life and thus his teaching career, following in his footsteps to teach at Hilmar High School, then on to Atwater where he garnered recognition with four state champion career development teams and scores of State and American degrees. Mark pioneered the use of computers in agricultural education and later worked to develop the first electronic recordbook.

Mark made the move to Modesto Junior College where he developed a nationally recognized dairy program, again garnering recognition with four National Champion Dairy Judging teams. His leadership in the state was valuable as he worked with teachers to develop better programs and SOEPs.

As the Dean of the Agriculture Department at Modesto Junior College, Mark left a legacy of success with the program being recognized as the Outstanding Post Secondary Program four times. One of the greatest physical tributes to Mark’s dedication is the Agriculture Pavilion on the west campus of MJC. This amazing complex came to fruition under the watchful eye of  Mr. Anglin’s management.

Dr. Mark E. Bender

Tranquility High School 1973-1974

Ceres High School 1974-1976

Modesto Junior College 1976-2002

Stanislaus State University 2002-2014

Teacher of Excellence 1985

Dr. Mark Bender graduated from Lodi before transferring to Delta College and then Fresno State. His masters degree is from Cal Poly, SLO and his doctorate is from Oregon State University. He taught high school one year at Tranquility and two years at Ceres before moving to Modesto Junior College. 

He spent twenty-seven years at Modesto Junior College as an instructor, Grant Director, Tech Prep Consultant and Dean. During his tenure he worked tirelessly to create statewide articulation programs, allowing students to prepare for their future in post-secondary education.

Mark left Modesto Junior College to create and open the Ag Studies Program at CSU Stanislaus. Dr. Bender guided the program for the next twelve years. He served on numerous state committees for agriculture education including the development of articulation agreements, the electronic portfolio and several program guides through the Tech Prep Consortium. 

His passion for horticulture, rabbits and meat goats was evident through the assistance he offered to countless chapters with donations, advice and experience. His service to the Stanislaus County Fair as small animal superintendent and avid booster for the auction are a small portion of his selfless service to our profession.

Gary Lesh

John W. North High School 1967-1974

Manteca High School 1973-1975

Alan Hancock Jr. College 1975-1977

Rubidoux High School 1977-1989

Jurupa Valley High School 1989-2001

Riverside City College 1995-1998

West Valley High School 2002-2005

Outstanding Young Member 1969

Teacher of Excellence 1973

Outstanding Teacher 2001

Star Advisor 1981

Honorary American Degree 1996

Following the advice of his ag teacher, Mr. Harold Fleming, back in 1957 to “think about being an ag teacher”’, Gary Lesh has done just that. After serving in the Army and Army Reserves, Gary

proceeded to build a legacy of student and program successes. Gary worked with sixty student teachers and had thirty-two students who became agriculture teachers.  

Gary had great vision creating progressive ag curriculums which still exist today. During his 53 years in education he  planned, rebuilt and refurbished existing programs and built a new ag program and ag academy. His “can do” philosophy and tenacity to tackle a job and the motivational skills to involve community and student support to get that job done. Into his retirement, Gary travels everywhere he can to help provide strong Ag education experiences for students.

Pamela J. “Pj” LoCoco

Cambria Union High School 1980

Paso Robles High School 1981

Atascadero High School 1981-1982

Santa Rosa Junior College 1982-2015

Outstanding Young Member 1986

Teacher of Excellence 1990

FFA Distinguished Service Citation 1998

Honorary American FFA Degree 2007

Pamela J. “Pj” LoCoco is a pioneer in California agricultural education.  Her passion for education and students culminated with over 35 years of dedicated service to our profession, state and her students. Pj served the CATA as the first female state president in 1992, ten years after she had become one of the first women to teach agriculture at the community college level.  Her leadership at both the local and state level provided an outstanding model for all. She worked diligently on the Post Secondary In-Service and Mid-Winter committees to ensure her colleagues were supported in best practices. While teaching at Santa Rosa Junior College, Pj’s green thumb allowed her to nurture plants and students alike as she assisted in the development of an outstanding post secondary program. Her willingness to teach and mentor kept her busy but she still found time to create ten certificate programs, and forty-seven different courses.  

Pj continued to influence the Post Secondary ranks with her service on the ANR Advisory Committee, setting policy and evaluating programs statewide. All of this while raising two outstanding sons who are Eagle Scouts and excelled in athletics and academics. with her husband Tom.

Kevin Koelewyn

1990-1991 Livingston High School

1991-1993 Wasco High School

1993-1998 Kingsburg High School

1998-2018 Tulare High School Farm

Teacher of Excellence 2005

Outstanding Teacher Don Wilson Memorial 2019

Star FFA Advisor 2003

Honorary American FFA Degree 2005

Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is not a sometimes thing…it is an all the time thing.”This was the motto that Kevin Koelewyn modeled in his classroom. 

Kevin bred achievement and success in his classroom. He commanded respect from his students, was wise to the world and needs in education, and served as a mentor and friend to his students. Kevin was a dedicated servant to his family, faith, community, and our profession; his leadership at the local and state levels helped to guide the direction and focus of our programs and will be felt for years to come.

Kevin is best remembered as an educator, mentor, and friend. Outside of the classroom, Kevin was a youth baseball coach for his son Kaleb’s team. 

A beloved husband, father, mentor, educator and friend, Kevin left this world too early during a trip to the National FFA Convention in 2018. Kevin is survived by his wife Cathy, and children, Madilyn, Audra, and Kaleb.

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