National FFA News and Updates

National FFA Scholarships Available

Last year, 840 students from 43 states were awarded more than $1.6 million through the National FFA Foundation’s scholarship program. Scholarships are awarded annually to students with a variety of higher education plans and career goals, and are available to support FFA high school seniors and collegiate members. Only one application is needed to be considered for many scholarship opportunities. The 2023 scholarship application will be available through the FFA online scholarship portal from November 1, 2022 to January 12, 2023. 

National FFA Week (Feb 18-25)

Ready to start planning for National FFA Week 2023? Check out the fully updated National FFA Week web page for all your planning needs, such as the National FFA Week Implementation Guide.

New Virtual Student Workshops

You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to attend student workshops and grow as a leader. Check out the five new virtual student workshops from the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo, now available in the FFA Video Library. Topics include careers, leadership, service, and advocacy.

NEW Food Science Resource

Looking for resources to help you teach food science concepts or prepare students to compete in the Food Science & Technology CDE? This resource offers lesson plans for six food science units, including topics like sensory evaluation, foodborne illness, and product development.

Living to Serve Grants

The 2023 Spring Semester-Long Living to Serve Grant will open December 15. FFA chapters may apply for up to $1,200 to support semester-long service-learning projects that address community needs in one of four focus areas: Community Safety; Hunger, Health and Nutrition; Environmental Responsibility and Community Engagement. Grant applications are due February 1, 2023.

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Modesto JC Hosts Livestock Sale

Save the date! On January 28, MJC will host their annual sheep, goat, and hog pen sale. This unique livestock sale offers 4-H and FFA members the chance to purchase pre-priced, quality projects for various budgets. View this flier for additional information about the event. Last year, over 90 livestock projects went home with happy customers. Questions? Contact Tim Truax at truaxt@yosemite.edu.

Cal Poly Ambassadors Represent California at National Convention

The Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) Ambassadors, a college-wide student organization whose purpose is to act as a public relations team for the college, traveled more than 2,000 miles in October to attend the 95th annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana – bringing California agriculture to more than 55,000 students and teachers eager to learn more.

Four CAFES Ambassadors applied and were hand-selected to attend the event, bringing with them intimate knowledge in their own areas of study including agricultural business, agriculture communications, agricultural science, and animal science. 

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo served as the only California university on the trade floor this year, educating students in attendance from other areas of the country about California commodities such as wine, strawberries and citrus, as well as introducing prospective students to the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country with more than 4,100 undergraduate students.

However, Cal Poly students who attended the conference gained more than simply promoting Cal Poly and California agriculture. Students networked with companies offering internships and explored future career opportunities and reconnected with students and advisors they knew from their time involved in their own high school FFA chapters. For many, it also served as a sense of returning home to an organization that played an influential role in their own pursuit of careers in agriculture.

“FFA was the place I found my friends, family, and who gave me the opportunities to learn, step out of my comfort zone, and grow”, said Anna Bibby, a second year Agricultural Business major from Sloughhouse, CA. “Attending FFA’s National Convention was definitely a full circle moment for me. The opportunity to give back to such an amazing organization that shaped me into the person I am today truly feels rewarding.”

Along with Bibby, Maddie Tellesen (Agricultural Communication) of Elk Grove, Megan Dixon (Agricultural Business) of Fortuna, and Abbie Brown (Animal Science) of Elk Grove, all attended National Convention as an FFA student at one point. Now attending as collegiate students and FFA alumni, these four ambassadors were able to give back to the FFA community and connect with students through shared experiences and interests that FFA provides.

“I am confident that the skills and experiences gained through my FFA career have stayed with me throughout my journey in college and account for much of my success here at Cal Poly,” said Bibby. “I am grateful each and every day to be receiving my education from here, and the significant role FFA had in my journey to Cal Poly.”

Golden Owl Award: Nominate A Colleague Today!

The Golden Owl Award Program, a partnership between Nationwide, California Farm Bureau, and California FFA, is designed to recognize teachers who go above and beyond. Anyone can nominate their favorite agricultural teacher and summarize what makes him or her the best in the state.

To nominate an outstanding ag teacher, visit https://form.jotform.com/CaliforniaFFA/2023-golden-owl-award

Nominations close on January 23, 2023.

Coming Soon: The 5th Annual Blue Corduroy Classic

Save the date for FFA’s annual online auction that benefits over 98,000 members across the state! On January 17, 2023, FFA alumni, friends, and supporters will have the opportunity to bid on hundreds of items, with all the proceeds going to the California FFA. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Donate an item, service, or experience for the auction. Your donation and business will be promoted online, and your contribution will directly benefit FFA. You can fill out the online auction form or contact Katie Otto.
  • Save the date, hop online, and bid on the many fabulous items available. An auction preview will be available before the event, and will be sent via email.

FFA Field Day Opportunities in 2023

Are your students ready to showcase their knowledge, demonstrate agricultural skills, and grow as leaders? Then you’re ready to register for the 2023 FFA Field Days! Check out this comprehensive spreadsheet featuring FFA Field Days throughout the state.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VhjDLvQcKBXMa6Y92qnvXnNPWCjGEqyE8KBqDzFkFJU/edit?usp=sharing

Featured Field Day: Chico State and Butte College Field Day 

The 2023 Chico State and Butte College Field Day will be held on February 11. Check-in will begin at 7 a.m. with contests starting at 8 a.m. All fees will be collected through JudgingCard. Registration is open now through January 27 at 5 p.m. No late registrations will be accepted. Please email jmtoombs@csuchico.edu with any questions regarding field day logistics or registration.

Registration Link: https://www.judgingcard.com/Registration/Info.aspx?ID=15948

Featured Field Day: Colusa Redhawk Classic

The Colusa Redhawk Classic offers students the opportunity to practice their career development and leadership skills in an online format. The Redhawk Classic includes AET Farm Records, BIG, Cooperative Marketing, Livestock (test only), Veg Crop, and Vet Science (test and ID only). Contest dates are January 23, February 27, March 13, and May 1. The $140 team entry fee includes all four contest dates. Registration closes January 18, 2023. Visit https://forms.gle/9WqvPQpttBqeWpQc6 to register. 

Decrease in K-14 Prop 98 Funding

By EdSource

After years of record-high education funding, California is now projecting a $2.6 billion deficit for schools and community colleges starting in July. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, in its annual budget prediction, anticipates the state will have to dip into its education rainy day fund for the first time to cover the projected deficit. California’s overall state budget deficit is expected to reach $25 billion.

But the state’s “precarious” financial picture would worsen if California falls into a recession in 2023. While there is “an elevated risk” of that, LAO is not assuming it. However, an erosion of economic conditions will lead to a significant decline in state revenues in 2022-23, with a recovery starting in 2024-25.

Some worry that the LAO’s budget forecast could mean cuts to new programs that the state adopted when state revenue was high. California School Boards Association spokesman Troy Flint said “there’s a lot of anxiety” as the organization awaits the first week of January when Gov. Gavin Newsom will present his 2023-24 budget proposal.

Read more: https://edsource.org/2022/good-times-to-end-funding-for-tk-12-community-colleges-to-drop-next-year-lao-predicts/681429

Welcome New Professionals!

Agricultural teachers new to the profession gathered in Fresno last month for the New Professionals Institute. The objective of the conference is to help teachers in their first, second, or third year increase professional confidence and competency in a collaborative environment. This year, 200 participants from all regions of the state attended. On behalf of the CATA, we welcome all our new professionals and wish you the best as you begin your journey.

Is the AIG Juice Worth the Squeeze? 

By Matt Patton, Executive Director

In an era of abundant Career Technical Education (CTE) funding, some CTE directors and administrators may be asking if it’s worth applying for the Agriculture Incentive Grant (AIG). The question stems from the fact that AIG has stricter requirements and lower available funds in relation to other CTE funding sources.

In analyzing the question, “Is the AIG juice worth the squeeze?”, a brief history of CTE funding would be helpful.

The AIG grant was established in 1983. The funding, only available to secondary agriculture education programs, was inserted into the budget by legislators threatening to hold up the passage of the entire California State Budget unless the incentive for agricultural education was added. The stringent quality criteria to incentivize high-quality programs set AIG apart from other specialized funding. The requirements set forth by the California Department of Education (CDE) were designed to ensure that the funds being allocated went to high-quality ag programs operating within specific parameters. The unique aspect of the legislation was the oversight and clawback authority granted to CDE to ensure the integrity of the grant. There are virtually no other grant programs that can require districts to return funds to the state if the criterion of the grant is not met. Currently, AIG receives $6.134 million annually.

The Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) was established in 2014 to fund secondary CTE programs. The competitive grant is modeled after the Ag Incentive Grant, using quality criteria to incentivize high-quality programs. Initially, the program ran for four years—distributing $900 million—with CDE tasked with distribution and program oversight. In 2018, the program was moved to an ongoing funding category and became a recurring line item in the budget. However, there was a twist: a portion of the CTE grant money allocated to secondary CTE would be distributed by the California Community College (CCC) system. In the beginning, the CTEIG grant funding was $150 million annually. In 2020, the CTEIG grant funding totaled $300 million.  

Corresponding with the extension of the CTEIG program in 2018 was the introduction of the K-12 Strong Workforce (K-12 SWF) Competitive Grant Program. The program was designed to be distributed regionally through the CCC system. This program also receives $150 million in ongoing funding.

Back to the question of whether the “juice is worth the squeeze.” It is reasonable for some administrative personnel to look at the total available CTE funding and the requirements of each grant and prioritize the personnel time needed for applications. However, simply looking at inputs and outputs is short-sided. Several other factors should be considered in determining which grants to pursue.

Consideration number one should be sustainability. The Ag Incentive Grant has existed for forty years and is vigorously defended whenever threatened. AIG is time-tested and has decades of data to back up its effectiveness. The continued growth of California FFA students and ag programs since the 1980s is a testament to the productivity of the AIG.

CTEIG and K-12 SWF have been around in their current iteration for five years and are still experiencing growing pains as they become established. 

The second consideration is target size during funding deficits. When leaner economic days come—and all indications are that they are lurking—which grant programs have the largest dollar targets to balance budgets?  

The current funding and resources available in CTE are unprecedented, and we all should be grateful for such abundant resources. The Career Technical Education Incentive and K-1 Strong Workforce grants are exceptional programs and should be pursued by every agricultural education program. Nevertheless, that implementation should not come at the expense of the Ag Incentive Grant.

They say if you do not use it, you lose it. That is especially true for AIG. After decades at the status quo, the funding for the AIG program finally expanded. This year, programs will receive 100% of their eligible funds. That money cannot go unused. The Governor’s Office and the Department of Finance will absorb AIG if the money is not distributed and used. 

Before the days of CTE directors and grant writers, ag teachers used to fill out the AIG application (some still do). If you are in a district, program, or school that does not think the “juice is worth the squeeze,” fill out the application on your own and make an appointment with the powers that be to get it signed off. AIG has sustained ag education for 40 years, and it is up to us to make sure it remains for another 40.

Seasons of Change

By Gene Lieb, Secondary Division Chair-Elect

This summer, I heard my very first podcast. It was a group of former teachers who shared their perspectives about why teachers are leaving the classroom. A lot of information was covered, but the most interesting comment was, “Before you are buried, your job will be posted.” This reminded me that EVERYONE is replaceable, and we must each follow our own path.

Prior to hearing the podcast, I had made a challenging personal decision to step away from a role I had served in for eight years—being the lead FFA Advisor. The program was handed off to an extremely capable teacher. I know some people wondered what I was doing, but it was time for me to challenge myself. I think that we easily become stale in the way we do things and the creativity we provide. The tank wasn’t empty, but it certainly wasn’t full either. I started to ask myself a few questions: Why does giving up a position feel like you’re giving up a part of who you are? What is the rationale behind doing the job forever? I decided that it was time to let someone else challenge themselves and for me to take on other opportunities.

It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, and I continue to struggle with my choice. It has nothing to do with my faith in the person that took over. They were ready for the challenge and continue to make the program better. I regularly have to remind myself of the reasons why I made this decision. First of all, I was ready to have time to myself. In August, I went on a week-long vacation. For the past nine years, I have never had the flexibility to take a week-long vacation. It was time for a change and I want to be able to travel with my sister and her family. I want to be present for moments and experiences that cannot be taken for granted. Second, it was made clear that I needed to grow more as a professional if I want to continue to flourish. I feel that stepping away from this role has provided me an opportunity to continue to cultivate other strengths.

I’m incredibly lucky to teach in a program where we support one another to do what is needed to feel whole and happy. Four of the five teachers in my department have been together for almost a decade. We know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and irritations. We all believe in each other and allow each person to thrive in the areas they deem important to them. Every day isn’t perfect or ideal. A note to young teachers: if you’re looking for the television show sitcom of teaching, it doesn’t exist. The people that you work with will see the good, bad, and ugly. Every one of you will be better and more resilient for it.

I count my blessings to be in a space where the team we have allows us to continue to challenge ourselves and be the people we want to be. Remember to support those around you and never be afraid to change everything if you think it’s going to make you happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.