SWOT Analysis: Placing CATA in a Position to Thrive

By John Williams, Ed.D., CATA State President Elect

IIn June, at the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) annual summer conference, CATA began an organizational SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym that refers to a study undertaken by an organization to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats. The CATA Governing Board determined that in a post-pandemic environment, an analysis of the organization was needed to chart a path forward. The board concluded that this method of analysis would be objective and utilize the empirical method to gather and analyze member responses to gauge the organization’s status. Dr. Avery Culbertson, Dr. John Williams, and their crew at Fresno State were recruited to help design and implement the analysis. This article, written by John Williams, Ed.D., CATA State President Elect, is an update on the CATA SWOT analysis process and a timeline for moving forward.

SWOT Introduction

In January, the CATA Governing Board met at the FFA Center for the annual winter meeting. One of the items addressed by the board was the need to analyze our organization in a post-pandemic reality. A SWOT analysis was discussed as a potential tool for assessing our organization. We wanted to know what members believe about our organization and how we, as elected leaders, can be a voice of change moving forward. So many times, in these meetings, we hear that some members are uncomfortable talking about issues regarding our organization. We wanted to provide an opportunity for teachers to feel safe and speak freely about their struggles, as well as identify the things our organization does well. Although I was not the person to bring this idea forward, Matt and Shay talked about it, and then we, as a board, discussed and determined that a SWOT was a good place to start to allow an inclusive process for all members.  

As we worked through the semester and had multiple meetings before the Summer Conference, I volunteered to help with the SWOT. We invited Dr. Avery Culbertson from Fresno State and her graduate student to write questions for the survey and analyze the data. Once the survey design was completed, it was sent to the CATA Executive Committee for feedback. At the CATA Summer Conference, I explained the SWOT analysis process and timeline. We met in small groups, organized by years of service, to allow an open forum for ideas and opinions. One thing that has been brought forward many times is that teachers with different years of service want an environment where they feel safe to speak about their concerns. This is why groups were formed based on years of service. The data from each group was collected via Google Forms.

Post-Conference

At this point, the data has been reviewed and is in the process of being coded to determine common themes. A constant-comparative coding method is being used to take the large amount of data and shrink it down in order to identify themes from the responses. Glaser’s constant-comparative method is incredibly time-consuming. In short, the responses are read, and then they are organized by common statements, thoughts, and wording. Then the data is looked at as a whole to answer the questions presented and re-organized again. This method allows us to see the whole picture regarding strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We, as an organization, want instant results and instant gratification. That’s who we are and how we have pushed ourselves to be better. Be mindful that we are looking at “organizational change,” and this takes time. 

Currently, I and others are in the coding process to identify themes from the data. So please be patient, as this takes time to do correctly. Also, keep in mind that I am only a middle person in this, all I am doing is looking at the research and summarizing the findings in an unbiased report to be presented in the future.  

Future

Initially, the goal was to have a report by the fall region meetings—to have the CATA state officers and Matt give an update on the process. The full report from all the data analysis will be given at the winter Governing Board meeting. The full report will also be sent by email to all the state’s teachers simultaneously. What exactly does this mean? This is to update all the teachers and put the “ball” into the hands of the organization to make necessary changes. The goal is to allow the information to be disseminated to the teachers at the beginning of the spring semester so that you all have time to read through the findings and come up with ideas to present at your region meetings as well as the Summer Conference. New policies, programs, and “ways of doing things” will need to be addressed, and at the Summer Conference, we can all come together again and move forward with plans to push our organization into further success.  

Conclusion

We have heard countless times that teachers feel like changes are made by a select few, but that is not the case in this analysis. This activity was geared to open communication, bring together thoughts, and make plans for the future. It takes time, and we are doing our best to get through the initial stages of the analysis. One thing that will not be included in the report is a “recommendations” section—this is left up to the members of the organization. The thought in doing this analysis is to do objective research and use empirical data to allow our organization to thrive. Every comment or submission will be included in the report, the codes created, and then themes identified from the coding process. This will allow you all to look through the data and come up with ideas to address our organization’s future. I hope this update answers questions and allows for more transparent communication. Please let me or any of the leaders know if you have any questions or concerns. I hope you all have a great semester, and I look forward to seeing many of you as the year continues.  

NAAE National #TeachAg Day is September 15

NAAE National #TeachAg Day is an initiative of the National Association of Agricultural Educators as part of the National Teach Ag Campaign designed to encourage others to consider a career teaching agriculture and celebrate the positive contributions agriculture teachers make in our schools and communities.

NAAE offers a variety of resources to help you celebrate NAAE National #TeachAg Day and to also help you encourage others to consider a career teaching agriculture. To access our Dropbox folder, click here.

Golden Owl Award Nominations

The Golden Owl Award Program, sponsored by Nationwide, is designed to recognize teachers who go above and beyond to provide opportunities for their students and their chapter to grow and improve. Students, fellow teachers, and other supporters can nominate their favorite agricultural teacher and summarize what makes him or her the best in their state. Nominees can win the distinction of being their state’s Agricultural Educator of the Year and the following prizes:

  • $500 and an engraved plaque to each regional finalist
  • $3,000 and the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy to each state’s grand prize winner

In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to each participating state’s FFA to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers, and advisors alike. 

To nominate an outstanding ag teacher, visit https://form.jotform.com/CaliforniaFFA/2023-golden-owl-award. Nominations close on January 23, 2023.

Wilco FFA Forever Grants 

Looking for a way to help fund a larger chapter project or endeavor? Selected projects will receive $250-$4,000 grants, and ALL current and active California FFA chapters are eligible. Past projects have included chapter equipment and facility repair/investment like greenhouses and land labs, educational activities, and service projects. Applications will close Friday, October 14, 2022. Be sure to visit https://www.wilco.coop/community/ffa-forever/grant-request/ for grant requirements and details on applying!

Congratulations to the 2022 National Chapter, Agriscience Fair, and Proficiency Finalists

The national finalists for National Chapter Awards, National FFA Agriscience Fair and Agricultural Proficiency Awards have been announced ahead of the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo. Congratulations to all the California finalists! Click the links below to view the 2022 results. 

  • The National FFA Agriscience Fair recognizes student researchers studying the application of agricultural scientific principles and emerging technologies in agricultural enterprises. The agriscience fair is open to middle and high school students. Participation begins at the local level and progresses to state and national levels.
  • The Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through their supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs), have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers.
  • The National Chapter Award Program is designed to recognize FFA chapters that actively implement the mission and strategies of the organization. These chapters improve chapter operations using the National Quality Chapter Standards and a Program of Activities that emphasize growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership.

National FFA News and Updates

Provided by Jason Ferreira, Hanford High School Ag Teacher and National FFA Teacher Ambassador 

NEW! Fall 2022 FFA New Horizons Teaching Guide
The newest edition of the FFA New Horizons Teaching Guide is now available! https://ffa.app.box.com/s/hhc3at1jjo9lbf1q2ykju0sd50uii72p

NEW! Student Handbook and Workbook
The latest edition of the National FFA Student Handbook and Official FFA Manual are now live and available for classroom use. New this year is a classroom workbook and poster set that accompany the student handbooks. Click here to purchase the handbook, workbook, or manual. Looking for free digital files to share with students? 

Handbook: https://ffa.box.com/s/wbvvrdx5rxxf7vv8n6vnka2dg3hdxid3  
Workbook: https://ffa.box.com/s/lz6iokwfsxwx9u5u5to0c48gtokxvitj  

California Chapters Receive ‘Grants for Growing’
National FFA awarded more than $925,000 to FFA chapters in 42 states. This nationwide program, sponsored by Tractor Supply Company, provides grant funds to local FFA chapters to grow their classroom, grow their chapter, or grow ag awareness in their communities.

Seven California chapters were awarded funds: Brentwood-Liberty FFA, Central Catholic FFA, Firebaugh FFA, Foothill-Palo Cedro FFA,  Fowler FFA, Golden Valley-Bakersfield FFA, and Turlock Christian FFA. Congratulations!

New Purdue-Supported Research on FFA Members

What barriers exist that prevent FFA members from being fully involved in FFA? Are FFA members more likely to embrace new situations? These were some of the questions considered by the National FFA Organization and Purdue University in a newly published study. Researchers surveyed high school FFA members from 60 schools and found a positive correlation between FFA involvement and comfort zone and FFA involvement and adaptability. Read more here.

Sacramento Scene: 2022 Legislative Session Closes, Fate of Bills Decided

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

As the clock struck midnight on August 31, the 2021-22 legislative session ended. The session started eight months ago. All passed bills are now sent to the Governor’s desk for final approval. Newsom has until the end of September to sign or veto the bills. The national media will scrutinize these signings as many suspect he may run for national office in 2024 (CalMatters Staff, 2022).

The following is a list of bills related to education that impact agricultural education and their fate in the 2022 legislative session. 

AB 1705 (Irwin) – The bill limits remedial English and Math classes that could be required for transfer from a Community College. In addition, the bill outlines stricter rules on when community colleges are allowed to enroll students in remedial classes. Community colleges are expected to enroll most students in transfer-level classes if signed. 

AB 2044 (O’Donnell) – The bill would extend the option for students to fulfill state high school graduation requirements by completing a Career Technical Education (CTE) course until 2027. This bill died in the Senate for reasons unrelated to its contents. However, language from this bill was inserted into an education budget trailer bill, ensuring the continued implementation of CTE classes counting toward graduation requirements. Assembly Member O’Donnell is not seeking re-election.

AB 2273 (Wicks, Cunningham, and Petrie-Norris) – Establishes the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which generally requires businesses that provide online services, products, or features likely to be accessed by children to comply with specified standards. The bill is waiting for the Governor’s signature. This could expand online accessibility for students at school.

AB 2088 (Cooper) – This bill, if passed, would establish the California Pilot Paid Internship Program. The program would provide grants to establish or expand internship programs within CTE courses or pathways. Unfortunately, AB 2088 failed to get out of the Assembly. The bill’s author, Assembly Member Cooper, is leaving the Assembly to become Sacramento County Sheriff.

AB 2617 (Holden) – This bill seeks to establish a grant program to increase participation in dual enrollment programs at local education agencies. The bill did not make it out of committee as it was held in submission. This action could allow the bill to be brought up again next session. 
The next significant political activity will be California’s November ballot. Because of redistricting and a mass exit of representatives, several Senate and Assembly seats are up for grabs. Governor Newsom and Superintendent of Public Instruction Thurmond are both up for re-election. Additionally, there will be an education-related ballot measure to vote on. Proposition 28 would set aside funding for arts and music at the secondary level. If passed, the funds from this proposition would be disproportionately reserved for low-income schools to hire staff (Christopher and Kamal, 2022)

UPDATED Dates and Locations of CDE/LDE State Finals

The 2022-2023 State Finals schedule is now available for all Career and Leadership Development Events.

*on probation

EventDateHost Site
Ag Communications5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Ag Issues5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Ag Mechanics5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Ag Mechanics Fair4/29/23COS
Ag Pest Control4/22/23Fresno State
Ag Sales4/15/23Reedley College
Ag Welding5/6/23Cuesta College
AET Farm Records5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Agriscience Fair3/16/23State FFA Conf.
Agronomy5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Best Informed5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
California Water Issues2/4/23Fresno State
Citrus Judging2/4/23Fresno State
Computer Applications*4/22/23Fresno State
Cotton Judging11/5/22Fresno State
Creed Recitation4/20/23Fresno Convention Center
Dairy Cattle Judging5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Extemporaneous 4/20/23Fresno Convention Center
Farm Business Manag.*5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Farm Power/Machinery4/22/23Fresno State
Floriculture5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Food Science & Tech*3/4/23UC Davis
Forestry5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Fruit Tree Judging4/22/23Fresno State
Fruit Tree Pruning2/4/23Fresno State
Grapevine Judging*4/22/23Fresno State
Grapevine Pruning2/4/23Fresno State
Impromptu Speaking4/20/23Fresno Convention Center
Job Interview4/20/23Fresno Convention Center
Light Horse Judging5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Livestock Judging5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Marketing (CoOp)5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Marketing Plan*5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Meat Judging5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Milk Quality/Dairy Foods5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Natural Resource Manag.1/21/23Reedley College
Nursery/Landscape5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Parliamentary Procedure4/21/23Fresno Convention Center
Poultry Judging5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Prepared Speaking4/20/23Fresno Convention Center
Small Engines4/22/23Fresno State
Soil/Land Evaluation 14/22/23Fresno State
Soil/Land Evaluation 25/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Spanish Creed4/20/23Fresno Convention Center
Vegetable Crop Judging5/6/23Cal Poly SLO
Veterinary Science5/6/23Cal Poly SLO

New Resource: The Regenerative Agriculture Journey Activity Book

This 8-page resource is an excellent complement for courses like soil science, ag and the environment, and ag biology. Middle and high school students will discover how science has shaped the way we farm through engaging activities. Topics include regenerative agriculture, soil, animal welfare, and more. A new resource from The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) developed in partnership with Danone North America. Download your free copy.