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.


How to Make Changes to the CATA Organizational Structure

By John Williams, President-Elect

The CATA organizational structure is founded upon a set of written documents that are used as the guiding principles for members, officers, and the CATA office. The bylaws and operating policies direct the organization to complete work that is needed to be done, for the good of the members. They are living documents which are open for change as society and our industry changes through the years. The purpose of this article is to summarize these documents, inform members about where they are located, and review the process of altering the documents. Additionally, I will briefly explain the state leadership structure, as it is important to have a basic understanding of how the foundational components of our organization are interconnected. 


The leadership structure is broken down into separate divisions and committees. The CATA Governing Board is an ensemble of elected representatives from throughout the state. The board consists of the state officers, region presidents, division chairs, and chair-elects. There are three scheduled meetings for the governing board: one in January, and pre-conference and post-conference meetings in June. The role of the governing board is to set policies, plan summer conference, assist with organizational needs, represent membership, and disseminate information to regions and sections. The governing board is the glue that holds our organization together since every region has a voice on the board, and it is a true representation of members. 

The CATA Executive Committee consists of the state officers, division chairs, and the post-secondary vice chair. This committee’s focus is on the CATA office. Our organization employs three personnel: the executive director, a full-time executive assistant, and a part-time executive assistant. The executive committee is responsible for evaluating the executive director and they are also responsible for personnel changes. The executive committee is in direct communication with the executive director and serves in an advisory role. The members of this committee are elected by the general membership. This committee has three scheduled meetings: fall, winter, and summer conference. Both the executive committee and governing board can be called to a meeting by the state president, as needed, to address issues and concerns on behalf of the CATA membership. 

There are three divisions within the CATA that are responsible for the operations of the CATA and host the various committees that aid in meeting the needs of our organization. The Operations Division is responsible for the following committees: Curricular Code, Teacher Recruitment, Budget/Audit, Membership Services, Articulation/Certification, Professional Ethics, Ag Issues, and Nominations/Bylaws/Professional Awards. This division does not segregate between high school and college instructors. It is open to all members to serve in various roles and to add input in the organization as a whole. The Secondary Division is the governing body for junior high and high school teachers. The purpose of this division is to open communication for this subgroup of our organization to meet their needs. The Post-Secondary Division consists of teachers at the community college and university level. Just like the Secondary Division, its purpose is to address issues and meet the needs of the teachers in this subgroup. Both the Secondary and Post-Secondary divisions have standing committees that meet as needed. All three divisions have a “seat” at the table regarding representation on the governing board and the executive committee. 

Bylaws and Operating Policies

The easiest way to access the bylaws and operating policies is via the CATA website, At the top left of the homescreen, select the “CATA” dropdown menu. You will see the documents listed there. If you are not able to access the website, all elected state, region, and division officers have a paper copy of these documents and should have them on their person at CATA meetings. Lastly, you can email the CATA office and ask for a copy. The bylaws and operating policies have evolved over time, and are able to be changed, as needed, following the appropriate process.

Operating Policy Changes

The operating policies are guidelines used in operating the day-to-day functions of our organization, including summer conference, role of the executive director, fiscal policies, and more. The operating policies were adopted in 1985 and may be changed. The procedure to change operating policies is relatively simple: a motion is needed and a majority vote is required by the membership present. Changes can be made at an executive committee meeting, governing board meeting, or during a general assembly at the summer conference. Unlike a bylaw change, the changes to the operating policies do not require a vote from the general membership. If you would like to change an operating policy, you need to be prepared to debate and express your thoughts as to why the change is needed.

Bylaws Change – Curricular Code

There are two distinct sections of the bylaws that can be changed, and each section has a unique process. First is the curricular code. The curricular codes for career development events (CDES) are part of the CATA bylaws. Changes to curricular codes are completed through the curricular code committee meetings within the operations division. Curricular codes for specific events can be changed every three years and are on a scheduled rotation. Each year, CATA announces which events are open for changes. If you want to propose a change to an open event, you must submit your proposed changes to the CATA office by June 1 using the curricular code proposal form that is posted to the CATA website. If you want to submit a change to a contest that is not slated to be open, you may still submit a proposal to the CATA office by June 1 and that proposal will be added to the pre-conference governing board agenda. The governing board must approve the consideration of any change for a contest that is out of rotation. It is recommended that those who do propose a change for an out of rotation contest be present at the pre-conference governing board meeting to state their reasons for opening the contest. In the past, the governing board has denied opening a contest out of rotation when the individual who submitted the proposal was not present at the pre-conference meeting. 

On the Tuesday morning of summer conference, the contests that are open will each have a meeting to discuss proposed changes. All CATA members are invited to participate. For each contest committee, the coach of that year’s winning team is appointed as chair. In these committee meetings you can only change what was proposed in writing prior to the conference. This eliminates the chance of a member going into the meeting to alter the contest without proper vetting. All contest change proposals are posted on the CATA website prior to summer conference so that teachers can learn about what changes are being considered. If there is conflict between a contest change and what is written in the general rules, the general rules will override the individual contest. If a proposal for a contest alters how the state finals host site will put on a contest (e.g. additional facilities, new sections, additional scoring, etc.), the host site advisor must also sign a form stating that they were notified and willing to accommodate the proposed change prior to submitting the change to the CATA for consideration. This allows for open communication between the state finals host and the CATA. 

Each contest committee’s minutes—with approval or denial of the proposed changes—are then submitted to the operations division chair who presents the changes to the CATA general membership during division reports, typically during Wednesday morning’s general session. At the end of the operation division’s report, a motion is needed to approve the report. At that time, a motion can be made to amend the report to change a curricular code. Debate will ensue and eventually a vote to approve the amendment and the operation division’s report will take place. Adopting curricular code amendments during the general session does not happen often, but it has happened.

Bylaws Change – All Other

Per the operating policies, all changes to the bylaws must follow the resolution process. The flow of the resolution process is described within the operating policies, which also outline the proper format of a resolution. Essentially, any member can propose a change to the CATA bylaws, but there is a process that must be followed in order to get the change on the ballot to be voted on by the membership. A resolution may be initiated by a region, the governing board, or the executive committee. All resolutions must be on the agenda and presented at region, executive committee, or governing board meetings during the year of the proposed changes. 

As a member, you may make a motion for the resolution at your region’s meeting. If you are unable to do that, you can request that a governing board member or executive committee member make the motion at one of their board meetings on your behalf. Depending on the time of year, the process may differ slightly. 

If you want to submit the proposed change in the fall, your region must vote and pass the resolution at their fall meeting. The region must then submit the approved resolution to the executive director at least 30 days prior to the winter governing board meeting. The resolution will then be presented at the executive committee meeting and the governing board meeting in January for consideration. The executive director will present the resolution and explain how it will change the bylaws and/or operating policies. Next, the governing board will recommend further action—“pass” or “do not pass”—with a two-thirds vote. If the recommendation does not receive a two-thirds vote, a “no action” response will be reported back to the region. After the winter governing board meeting, the regional presidents will present resolutions under consideration for members to discuss. Regions can make amendments to the resolution, but the region must specify how the amendment will change the bylaws or operating policies. Every region must make a recommendation of “do pass,” “do not pass,” or “no action” and submit their recommendations prior to the pre-conference governing board meeting. Please note, if a region does make an amendment to the resolution, the region must submit the amendment to the executive director at least 30 days prior to pre-conference governing board. At the Sunday pre-conference governing board meeting, the amendments (if any) are finalized. The governing board will once again make a recommendation on the resolution, and it will then be added to the agenda of the Nominations/Bylaws/Professional Awards. This committee will review the resolution and any amendments for accuracy. Then they will post the resolution in a conspicuous place no later than 24 hours prior to a vote. Resolutions are posted near the CATA office at Cal Poly as well as on the CATA website. The committee then prepares the ballot, and a vote is held at the Thursday morning general session. 

If the resolution is initiated in the spring, the initiating region, executive committee, or governing board must submit the proposed change to the executive director 30 days prior to the pre-conference governing board meeting. The governing board will make a recommendation on the vote and disseminate it to the regions. At the Monday morning region meetings, the regions will vote on a recommendation on the resolution, and if a region amends the resolution, it must be submitted to the executive director immediately after the conclusion of that region’s meeting. At this point, the state president will call for a special governing board meeting to finalize the resolution and make another recommendation on how they feel the membership should vote. It will then move to the bylaws committee and to the ballot as outlined in the previous paragraph. The general membership can amend the resolution from the floor at the last general session prior to voting. All changes to the bylaws require a two-thirds majority vote from the general membership to pass.  


I know this was a long read, but I wrote this to (hopefully) make sense of what can be a very confusing system. A couple years ago, those of us on the executive committee tried to make a change but did not follow the proper protocol. Thankfully, some members were paying attention and helped correct our mistake. This is one example of how great our organization is, but also why we have a system of checks and balances—so that all members have a voice in the organization. Please let me know if you have any questions. As you finish your semester, I hope you get a chance to relax, reflect, and spend time with those you love. 

CATA Governing Board Special Meeting Summary

By Matt Patton, Executive Director

The CATA Governing Board held a special meeting on November 1, 2022 to address concerns brought forth by some members. The concerns centered around middle school/junior high students’ participation in state finals contests or qualifying competitions. After discussing the concerns brought forward, the governing board focused on the recently amended “Part IV. Student/Advisor Participation, Section A, Sub-Section A-3,” listed below. 

Section A. Each student entering a competitive contest MUST:

A-3 Be enrolled at a high school or middle school/Jr. high AND taking course(s) receiving high school graduation credit.

The amendment adopted at the 2022 CATA Summer Conference inserted “middle school/junior high” into A-3 but failed to address the contradictory second part of the sentence. The governing board referenced the following portions of the CATA Curricular Code (CC) General Rules in discussing A-3:


PART IV. Student/Advisor Participation 

Section A. Each student entering a competitive contest MUST:

A-3 Be enrolled at a high school or middle school/Jr. high AND taking course(s) receiving high school graduation credit.

PART. VIII. Corrections in Code

Section A. Typographical errors, misspellings and/or omissions can be changed or corrected on a yearly basis. Any changes should be submitted to the State CATA Executive Director, who will contact the State FFA Advisor. A memo will be sent out to notify the membership. 

Line of Authority/Responsibility 

B. The governing board shall adopt policies and procedures that represent the interests and desires of the membership. 

C. The State CATA President has responsibility for assuring that approved policies and procedures are implemented. The president must consult with the executive committee if deviations from adopted policies are deemed necessary. Such deviations should be judiciously exercised and considered as one-time exceptions, not as formal policy of procedure deviations. 

The CATA Governing Board unanimously passed a motion to direct the CATA Executive Director to make corrections to A-3 to eliminate the contradiction. The board’s rationale for changing A-3 was to reflect the intentions of the membership that voted on the A-3 amendment. The governing board referenced the “Line of Authority/Responsibility” section of the CC when discussing the action. The board deemed that the language in the second portion of A-3 was an omission and should be addressed using the “PART. VIII Corrections” in Code Section A of the General Rules of the CC. 

Because of the motion, A-3 of the General Rules portion of the curricular code will now read as:

Be enrolled at a high school, taking course(s) receiving high school graduation credit, or be enrolled in middle school/junior high school taking classes eligible for promotion. 

The State FFA Advisor was notified of the correction to the code and this document will serve as notification to the CATA membership about the change. 

California Educator: 21st Century CTE

How has career technical education evolved to prepare all students to be successful in the future? This article, published by the California Teachers Association, examines current trends in career technical education and the need for more CTE educators. 

Today’s CTE is considered a pathway for students not only entering the workforce after graduation, but for those who plan on attending trade schools, two-year colleges for certificate programs, and four-year universities. CTE is considered a stepping stone to higher education—and an avenue for students to hold jobs in their field while attending college.

Read more here:

Register Your Students for Leadership Conferences

Now is the time to submit registrations for California FFA’s Made for Excellence (MFE) and Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA), and applications for Sacramento Leadership Experience (SLE).

MFE and ALA:

These two-day conferences are designed to engage sophomore (MFE) and junior (ALA) FFA members at their respective levels. MFE participants will spend the weekend learning about their personal values and understanding how to connect with others, while ALA participants will discover how to work with others and accomplish a shared goal. Registration is $100 per student, and the postmark deadline is December 19, 2022. 

Conference dates and locations.


This statewide conference allows high school seniors to step into the role of one of California’s State Legislators. Participants are assigned a specific California legislative district and spend four days in Sacramento. SLE focuses on the role of government, agricultural policy, and advocacy. Applications are open and due December 15, 2022.

More information about SLE. 

California FFA Foundation Chevy Truck Raffle

Win a beautifully maintained classic 1952 Chevy truck! Now, thanks to a generous donation from American AgCredit, you have an opportunity to own a piece of American history. The California FFA Foundation is selling raffle tickets ($100 each) at upcoming industry events including:

  • Blue Diamond Growers Annual Meeting – Modesto (Nov. 16)
  • California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting – Monterey (Dec. 3)
  • The Almond Conference – Sacramento (Dec. 6-8)
  • World Ag Expo – Tulare (Feb. 14-16)

You can also request tickets by completing this form. Tickets cannot be sold online. The drawing will take place during the 95th Annual State FFA Leadership Conference, March 16-19, 2023, in Ontario, California. You must be 18 or older to purchase a ticket and do not need to be present to win. For complete raffle rules, view the official terms and conditions

Learn more by visiting

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 the California FFA Foundation to further support the personal and professional growth of students and teachers. 

To nominate an outstanding ag teacher, visit Nominations close on January 23, 2023.

Results from the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo

California FFA members represented the Golden State well at this year’s National FFA Convention! Highlights include: one American Star Farmer, three National Agricultural Proficiency winners, three National FFA Agriscience Fair winners, and 11 Career and Leadership Development Event teams that were ranked gold.

Congratulations to everyone who competed in Indianapolis! Click here to see a complete listing of all California’s results.

University of Nevada, Reno Hosts Leaders Conference

The Collegiate Agriculture Leaders (CAL) Conference was hosted by the Agriculture, Veterinary, and Rangeland Sciences department (AVRS) of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources at University Nevada, Reno (UNR) from October 7-8, 2022. This was the first year the university has offered the CAL conference since 2019. UNR was selected to host the conference by the California Community College Student Leadership Committee at the CATA conference in June. The theme of this year’s conference was, “Agriculture in a Waterless Future.” The two-day program started with keynote speaker, veterinarian, and rancher, J.J. Goicoechea, who shared his experience in community service and agricultural leadership. Participants toured the school’s AVRS programs—Main Station Ranch, Wolf Pack Meats, and the Desert Farming Initiative. In addition, more than 100 participants were treated to a tailgate BBQ and Wolfpack football game. For more information on AVRS, visit

August CATA Executive Committee Meeting Summary

By Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

The California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) Executive Committee met on September 12, 2022. Below is a summary of the items discussed during the meeting. 

Membership Total 

CATA membership for the 2021-22 fiscal year was 978, which is a historic high for the organization. 

2021/22 Budget Review 

The Executive Committee did a final review of the 2021/22 CATA Budget. The budget was finalized after all expenses and receipts were settled from the CATA Summer Conference. CATA finished the fiscal year in the black and put money into reserves. It was noted that CATA is in good fiscal standing with enough funds in reserves to operate for several years if needed. 

Highlights from the 2022 Summer Conference Survey

Nearly 300 participants completed the 2022 CATA Conference Survey. Eight-eight percent of respondents rated the conference ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent.’ Conference attendance was at an all-time high for an in-person conference. Survey respondents indicated that changes to the schedule, specifically moving the Hall of Fame to the first session and dividing the New Teacher Introductions over multiple sessions, were welcome improvements.  

The Executive Committee expressed the need for teachers to report and supply information on retiring teachers, so people get recognition for their service. However, the committee would also like to note that not all retiring teachers want to be recognized, and some explicitly request that their names not be publicized as retirees.


It was recommended to the CATA Executive Director by the Executive Committee that legal representation be retained on behalf of the organization. It was noted that a firm representing the organization was a prudent strategic move due to the size and scope of the organization.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Assessment 

The status of the SWOT Assessment was outlined during the meeting. Dr. Williams, Dr. Colbertson, and graduate students are entering and qualifying the data collected at the CATA Conference this summer. Once the data has been entered and filtered, strands of like themes will be identified and grouped. This data entry and sorting is a long and arduous process, and CATA is extremely grateful for the time and resources Fresno State has dedicated to the assessment. The hope is to review the results from the analysis at the CATA Winter Governing Board Meeting in January. Look for another update once those results are finalized.

Keynote Speaker Recommendations 

Traditionally, personal references have resulted in the best speakers for CATA Summer Conference. Have you witnessed a charismatic speaker with an inspirational message? The CATA Executive Committee is soliciting speakers for next year’s CATA Summer Conference. CATA typically budgets $10,000 total for speakers at the conference.

As a point of reference, Jocko Willink commands $75,000 per speaking engagement, and Mike Rowe’s fee starts at $150,000 for events. Please forward any potential speakers with contact information to

Employee Evaluation 

The meeting culminated with the CATA’s Executive Directors annual evaluation.