5K for FFA is Right Around the Corner!

By: Maureen Funk, Development Director, California FFA Foundation

Looking for an FFA activity above the chapter level that adds to your chapter’s FFA Week experience? Looking for a way to promote both physical and mental health amongst your FFA membership? The 5K for FFA is the way!

The 5K for FFA is a great opportunity to engage students, promote FFA, raise health awareness, and raise money to support the members of the California FFA!

Participants across California are running, walking, or cycling a 5K route of their choice from February 20-27, 2022. Race registrants will receive an official numbered race bib and race sticker. 

Early Bird Registration (January 3rd- February 1st): 

  • $30 per participant 
  • $300 for a group of 15 participants 
  • T-shirts this year will be included for free with Early Bird Registration only   

Regular Registration (February 2nd – February 27th): 

  • $30 per participant 
  • $300 for a group of 15 participants 

A special thank you to this year’s sponsor, fairlife, for their continued support! 

Make sure to tag California FFA and use the hashtags #5KforFFA and #CaliforniaFFA during your run!

FFA Students Make a Digital Discovery

By: Hayley Kaae

During the FFA OUTSKIRTS Marketing Summer Internship, students discovered most local brick-and-mortar businesses they researched didn’t have correct contact information, products, or services accessible for online searches. They learned the foundation of digital marketing: accurate and consistent business information optimizes a business’ online presence. 

The fact is today’s business environment is evolving into a digital arena, making an online presence more important than ever. In the past, businesses relied on word-of-mouth, local newspapers, radio, and television ads for their marketing. While these are still important tools, strategies to remain competitive are rapidly changing. OUTSKIRTS is here to support local commerce by putting digital marketing power in the hands of the local businesses we all know, love, and trust.

OUTSKIRTS strives for the long-term prosperity of local commerce by teaching future entrepreneurs the importance of digital marketing.  By making FFA students an integral part of helping agricultural communities thrive with the help of the FFA OUTSKIRTS Digital Marketing SAE, they discovered the first step to empowering local businesses online, and I’m sure they are ready for the next. Next month, read more about how FFA students explore the digital marketing field and help kick-start the Proud to Buy Local Campaign.  

Contact Hayley Kaae to learn more: hayley@outskirts.com

Opportunities Await

By: Anthony Drumonde, Teacher, Livingston High School 

As agriculture teachers, we do a superior job at participating in professional development put on by our state association. But what if I told you that there are opportunities to grow as a professional on a national level? The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) has a surplus of opportunities available to agriculture teachers. The cost to be a member is $60 a year, but the opportunities available to you are endless. 

I had the opportunity to attend the NAAE Convention held in Anaheim in 2019. Through my participation in the convention, I learned about the NAAE “Teachers Turn The Key” (TTTK). TTTK is a program designed for teachers in their 3rd to 5th year of teaching as a means of encouraging these young teachers to remain in the profession and to encourage and recognize participation in professional activities. Each year the state association can send one applicant to the national level. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the thirty-five individuals who were a 2021 Teachers Turn The Key recipient. 

This opportunity allowed me to travel to New Orleans for a week of professional development, networking, and celebrations. As a 2021 Teachers Turn The Key (TTTK) recipient, the NAAE covered the costs associated with flights and lodging. My week started with a day of professional development with the 34 other recipients and three facilitators. During the program we covered topics such as: our “why”, growing as a professional, communication, NAAE leadership, and our values. When we were not participating in the TTTK program, we were attending general business sessions, workshops, networking, and exploring New Orleans. Because of my participation in TTTK, I now have a network of other agriculture teachers throughout the nation and I departed refreshed and excited to continue in our profession.

NAAE seeks to advance agricultural education and promote the professional interests and growth of agriculture teachers as well as recruit and prepare students who have a desire to teach agriculture. The organization is dedicated to developing professional pride and competency, nourishing a spirit of unity among classroom teachers, and recognizing members for conducting outstanding programs. It monitors governmental affairs affecting agricultural education and assists in the development of priorities and strategies to affect federal legislation and appropriations.

The NAAE has a surplus of opportunities besides the TTTK program. They offer National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Program, NAAE Agriscience Learning Lab, NAAE Agriscience Inquiry Institute, XLR8 Experienced Teacher Program, National Policy Seminar, and Agricultural Education Strand, Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE), and leadership opportunities. To learn more about these programs I challenge you to visit the NAAE website

As an association, we need to start stepping up and taking part in the professional opportunities that are available to us on a national level to grow and refine our teaching practices. We strive to grow as professionals on a daily basis, why not continue to do that with NAAE? 

For more information visit the NAAE website: https://www.naae.org/index.cfm

Introducing OUTSKIRTS!

By: Hayley Kaae

OUTSKIRTS by Ag Source Magazine was developed to connect local businesses to the people that live on the outskirts of urban California. Our new online marketplace, outskirts.com, simplifies the selling process of new and used products and services, while also enhancing local businesses’ online presence and optimizing their digital footprint. We partnered with California FFA to create an Agribusiness Marketing SAE that is accessible to FFA students across the state in hopes of bringing communities and FFA chapters together. 

Our Mission:

Optimize Local Businesses’ online presence.

– Integrate FFA Students into their community.

– Enable FFA Students to explore a career space in Agribusiness while also earning funds for themselves and their chapter.

– Unite individuals of the rural lifestyle through a convenient online platform.

We achieve this through our SAE marketing program where FFA students identify local businesses. Then, through research, taking photos, and writing, create a spotlight. This spotlight tees up the OUTSKIRTS Team to present their offer of enhancing businesses’ online presence. Students gain experience in digital marketing and support local businesses in their community, all while fulfilling their SAE requirements! 

To learn how the OUTSKIRTS FFA Marketing Program can benefit your chapter, contact Hayley Kaae: hayley@outskirts.com.

Chico State College of Agriculture Update

By: Mollie Aschenbrener,  Ph.D., Professor, College of Agriculture, California State University, Chico

Greetings from Chico State, where we are thrilled to be resuming many of the in-person activities and student interactions that make our profession so rewarding. We are wrapping up a busy semester with 32 student teachers and 60 master’s students in agricultural education. As our program has grown, it is exciting to witness the impact our graduates continue to have in the agricultural education profession. One of the ways we are seeking to expand that influence is through the “Sponsor an Ag Teacher” student-teacher scholarships, for which we are working to gain industry support. Here are just a few of the exciting developments we’ve seen this semester. 

College of Agriculture Welcomes New Dean

Dr. Patricia Stock joined Chico State in August as the new Dean of the College of Agriculture, replacing John Unruh, who retired after five years in the leadership role. Stock relocated from Tucson, Arizona, where she spent 20 years on faculty at the University of Arizona and the last three years as director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. 

During her tenure at the University of Arizona, Stock successfully established a well-funded and internationally recognized research program that focuses on the study of insect pathogens and parasites and their development as alternatives for the management of agricultural pests. Through her research and teaching, she pioneered and promoted research on entomopathogens as biological model systems. She mentored and trained scientists from over 30 countries; and authored/co-authored over 120 peer-review scientific articles, 12 book chapters, and edited two books. She also devoted efforts to education including the development and teaching of large and small courses at a variety of educational levels. She trained high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students. She recently established an NSF-funded undergraduate summer program on “Microbial Symbioses and Diversity” dedicated to research training of community college students from underrepresented minorities.

Dean Stock is looking forward to meeting alumni, teachers, and other agricultural partners and exploring ways to advance agricultural education across the state. 

New Faces and Roles

In addition to a new dean, Chico State welcomed two new tenure-track faculty and a student success coordinator to the College of Agriculture this fall. 

Dr. Alyssa Schager – Agricultural Education

Alyssa Schager is no stranger to Chico State nor to CATA. A Chico State graduate, Schager earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and taught for nine years at Delta and Elk Grove High Schools, where she earned California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s Vocational Teacher of the Year in 2008 and California Association FFA Star Advisor in 2011, before returning to Chico State to teach a variety of courses in agricultural education and leadership while coordinating the College of Agriculture’s internship program. In 2021, she earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction at Liberty University. In her new tenure-track role, Schager hopes to blend her dual passions of agricultural education and agricultural leadership, both preparing future agriculture teachers in curriculum development and instruction, while also building upon the existing agricultural leadership classes that serve all majors in the College of Agriculture.  

Dr. Jessica Toombs – Agricultural Education

Missouri native Jessica Toombs taught high school agriculture for seven years after earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri. As the lone agricultural education instructor in Sikeston, Missouri, she transformed a program that was on the edge of shutting down into a vibrant and active FFA program where students excelled in the classroom, Career Development Events, and Supervised Agricultural Experience activities. After earning her master’s degree in agricultural education online from Oklahoma State University while still teaching, she was offered a paid graduate teaching associate position at Oklahoma State and made the move to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to earn her PhD. New to California, Toombs is excited to dig into life at the University. She helps advise the Collegiate FFA, assists with the Chico State/Butte College FFA Field Day, and wants to continue work she began at Oklahoma State to develop mentoring programs for new student teachers. 

Denise Crosswhite – College Advising and Retention Specialist

With an 18-year career in student services at Chico State, Denise Crosswhite brings a wealth of experience to the College of Agriculture’s Student Success Office as the new college advising and retention specialist. A Chico State graduate herself (Organizational Communication, ’03; MA, Social Science, ’17), Crosswhite’s career at Chico State has included serving as a programming coordinator for Associated Students as well as coordinating residential life programming within University Housing. For the past three years, she has served as the campus’s associate director for residential life, and now she’s thrilled to get back to working one-on-one with students and supporting their academic journey in the College of Agriculture. As the College of Agriculture’s advising and retention specialist, Crosswhite leads the Student Success Office’s broad array of support services from student recruitment through graduation. Using comprehensive data and building personal connections with students and faculty, Crosswhite aims to remove some of the barriers to student success and help students find resources they may not even know are available to them. 

New Degree and New Option in Agricultural Communication and Leadership

The College of Agriculture and the College of Communication and Education at Chico State have teamed up to offer a new degree program in agricultural communication and leadership starting Fall 2021. The option is available within the agricultural science major, giving students a strong foundation in agricultural science and production while offering flexibility to focus their studies and hone their skills in communication. 

Within the core of the agricultural science major, which also is shared with the option in agricultural education, students will take up to 97 units spanning agricultural business, agricultural technology, animal science, and plant science. The agricultural communication and leadership option adds additional required and elective classes in leadership, technology literacy, communication, and applied media and public relations skills. 

For more information, contact Professor Mollie Aschenbrener in the College of Agriculture at maschenbrener@csuchico.edu or Professor Susan Wiesinger in the College of Communication and Education at swiesinger@csuchico.edu. 

Ag Ambassadors Return

After a several-year hiatus, the Chico State Ag Ambassador program has returned, offering students the opportunity to grow their leadership capacity, hone communication skills, network with community and industry leaders, and promote the College of Agriculture through recruitment and outreach activities. Two of the group’s primary goals are to visit high schools and community colleges both virtually and in person, and to offer University Farm tours to prospective students. To learn more about school visits and farm tours, contact Denise Crosswhite at dcrosswhite@csuchico.edu, or submit an interest form here.  

Upcoming Events at Chico State

December 11 Chico State Sheep and Meat Goat Education Day 

January 10-11 Today Decides Tomorrow Project Lamb Sale

January 15 Swine Day

January 28 Chico State Social at Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale

February 2 Colusa Farm Show Breakfast

February 8-10 Visit Chico State at the World Ag Expo

February 12 Chico State/Butte College FFA Field Day

February 23 Agriculture Career and Internship Fair

April 22 Wildcat Day on the Farm

June 10 Superior Ag/Tri Counties Bank Golf Classic

November 5 University Farm 60th Anniversary Celebration

Cal Poly at the FFA National Convention

By: Haley Marconett, Assistant Dean, Strategic Initiatives, Communications and Student Leadership, CAFES Ambassadors Advisor

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 94th Annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis – bringing California agriculture to more than 55,000 students and teachers eager to learn more.   

Seven 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, agricultural communications, agricultural science, food science, animal science, and bioresource agricultural and engineering. 

Cal Poly served as the only California university on the trade show 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 convention 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 my home at a certain point in my life,” said Emily Sarantopulos, a second-year bioresource and agricultural engineering major at Cal Poly from Elk Grove, who also serves as a member of the CAFES Ambassadors. “Within my chapter I found a family and everlasting relationships. Being given the opportunity to attend the FFA National Convention again as a CAFES Ambassador was truly an honor. I got to be the person that helps students navigate where they want to go after college and share the amazing hands-on opportunities that Cal Poly offers.”

Sarantopulos was one of two Cal Poly students to receive the American Degree, the highest honor awarded to FFA members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experience, at the convention. The other was CAFES Ambassador Ashley Waymire from Visalia.

“Cal Poly is now my home, but those connections from FFA will never be lost,” said Sarantopulos. “The skills, leadership and connections made in that agriculture-based organization reminds me much of what Cal Poly is all about – and because of that I couldn’t imagine getting my education from anywhere else.”

Lessons from the RAT Pack

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

I recently crashed a, self named, RAT (Retired Ag Teachers) Pack breakfast. In October, the group met for breakfast in an out-of-the-way diner in central California.  Mid-morning at a large table in the back of the restaurant sat nine stalwarts of our profession, all legendary figures of CATA. The group meets every month or so to reconnect. As far as anyone knows, there is no official membership list and no formal invitations. They are simply a group of retirees with a shared passion for ag education summoned by word of mouth. They carpool Highway 99 and Interstate 5 in the dark to some predetermined diner, picking up members at each town along the way.

If anyone was to calculate the number of silver bowls represented by the group, the number would be in the triple digits. The State Degree count accumulated by the table would be in the thousands. The miles traveled to fairs, field days, and project visits would reach a million. But their conversations were not of past glory or the good old days.

Intertwined amid complaining about politics (the 2021 recall came up frequently), discussing California’s current state of affairs (outlawing gas-powered lawnmowers was a hot topic), and the lack of rain emerged three main themes.

The first theme was that each member of the group was still connected to their former ag program in some way. Some were still teaching a class or two, others were subbing, and many continued volunteering at FFA and community events. They stayed connected by judging career development and leadership development events, barbecuing for fundraisers, serving on boards, and “consulting” the next generation of ag teachers.   

The next theme revolved around family and friends and the importance of community. Stories were told about holiday gatherings and local events, and they all showed pictures of children and grandchildren.

The final commonality was that all the members of the group had hobbies. Activities like woodworking, hunting, pottery, biking, running, fishing, fantasy football, and camping were common. They shared anecdotes of completed projects, competitions, and shared passions. Some RAT Packers commented about the importance of developing interests outside of the profession.

Prior to the event, I expected to hear a how-to on ag teaching, but instead learned a more powerful lesson. As a result, I left breakfast pondering the following questions: 

As ag teachers, what are we doing right now to build connections to our programs and community that will outlive our careers?

What are we doing to cultivate lifelong hobbies that bring us joy and keep us mentally and physically active?

What are we doing to strengthen our relationships with family and friends to help us stay connected after leaving the classroom?

State Championships, American Degrees, and champion banners are important and reflect the hard work and dedication of the students and teachers that achieve them, but reminders of those accomplishments sit on a shelf or hang on a wall and collect dust years later. However, the community connections made, the relationships built and maintained, and the interests outside of work will be around long after the job.

A special thanks to Dave Segna, Warren Weaver, Joe DiGrazia, Carl Wright, Darol Fishman, Larry Tosta, Mark Feuerbach, Dale Pollard, and Richard Regalo for allowing me to sit and talk. It is not something I will soon forget. Please know you are forever and always a part of the CATA family and welcome at any event. 

Seeing Yourself in CATA and FFA

By: Brian Kim, CATA Southern Region President

Like many other high school agriculture teachers in the state, I knew I wanted to be an agriculture teacher through my participation and involvement within my own chapter. I would have considered myself the gung-ho FFA kid who wanted to participate in every leadership conference, run for office, and show livestock. The FFA, as it does for so many young students, provided me with a home, a place to thrive, and somewhere that I had a sense of belonging. There was a huge part of my FFA experience missing though: my parents. Growing up I saw my parents actively involved in my older sisters’ choir concerts and my older brothers’ baseball and marching band competitions, but when it came down to the ag world, there was a disconnect. Still, even to this day, my parents don’t fully understand the world of agricultural education and I attribute the disconnect to their race, upbringing, and culture. 

During my sophomore year, while running for regional office, I had made the first conscious note in my head that not many other FFA members looked like me. I didn’t see many other Asian FFA members in blue jackets. Even as a professional, I can probably count the number of Asian agriculture teachers on my hands within our state. As we find ourselves, as an organization, pushing towards inclusivity, going as far as stating that our FFA programs should reflect our school population, and how beneficial it would be that students see themselves in their educators, I can’t help but think that our teachers will need to be supported in having more dynamic discussions and awareness to engage all student populations. 

Participation in extracurricular activities is associated with higher educational aspirations and expectations, higher levels of academic achievement, higher levels of self-esteem and a lower likelihood of dropping out of high school. Extracurricular activities enable students not only to explore interests and make new friends, but also to develop a large range of physical, interpersonal, leadership, and intellectual skills.  

These activities appeared to have been a response from educational systems in industrialized nations to a rapid increase in secondary enrollments. Administrative leaders began writing articles that reflected the value of extracurricular activities. It was not until well into the 20th century those extracurricular activities began to be considered as important by educational leaders. In general, low socioeconomic and minority students receive less attention from teachers, are placed in lower academic tracks, and learn less during the school year. Supporting evidence claims that access to the extra curriculum is inequitably distributed among students from various social, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. It is important to research the inequalities in extracurricular activities given the potential benefits that students may receive from participation. 

Research shares prevalent stereotypes that link ethnic group membership to academic ability and other skills. These stereotypes form a reference point for the construction of success among the youth. This supports the idea that adolescents define their goals depending on the stereotypes attached to their ethnic group. Research also shared that income is a significant predictor of whether a child participates in an extracurricular activity. Paying to play extracurricular activities places a financial burden on the students and their families. Low participation is high among economically disadvantaged children. Families with higher income are more likely to provide opportunities for their children to participate in extracurricular activities than families with lower income. Relating this very topic to the livestock world, we see similarities within those families who have the ability to provide their children with “higher-end” livestock animals, those families who get the very “basic” livestock animal, and even those students who, after learning there is a price tag involved, ultimately do not even show up to the interest meetings. 

Raising livestock, attending leadership conferences, and any activities have much in common as there is an after-school commitment as well as a financial responsibility to the project. There is a racial discrepancy as the majority of students that raise livestock at Sunny Hills High School are Caucasian and Latino. In addressing the Asian population and why more Asian students don’t participate in agricultural education, there is a cultural gap. We have a strong population of Asian students enrolling in agriculture courses because we can “sell” to both the student and parent that our classes fall under Biology and Chemistry; when it comes to having the opportunity to raise livestock or participate in agriculture-related activities there is a distinctive gap. In a high school with a strong academic achievement level and a large Asian population, some educational stereotypes are very much real. Parents of Asian students are pushing them to have the best odds on college applications, therefore any course that veers away from an AP, IB, and/or Honors is not relevant. Students asking their parents to raise livestock are often turned down as the event is not academically relevant nor does it actively thrust their students into a higher achievement category. This discrepancy even begins with students asking their parents if they can register for an agriculture class. The word “agriculture” is foreign and unfamiliar to them, which places the course in a “less-than” category. Pushing for the Asian community to accept CTE courses, place value, and rigor will require consistent exposure, education, and awareness in which we need to be prepared to do in order to break educational misunderstandings. Though the challenges that the Asian community and agricultural education face may differ from those of different races and cultures, one thing remains true: we need to continue diving into these conversations and creating meaningful change.  

Although the focus for our school is the Asian population, California agriculture programs are diverse and require a dive into other areas of race. As teachers begin to actively try and involve all students, special attention should be placed on racial inequities and how they affect student participation.

2021-2022 Golden Owl Nominations Are Open!


Nationwide® is proud of its agricultural heritage and long-standing support of the greater agricultural community, including the National FFA Organization and FFA chapters across the country. The Golden Owl Award® allows us to also extend our support to agricultural educators who devote countless hours, and often their own resources, to positively impact the lives of their students.


The Golden Owl award program recognizes chapter FFA Advisors who demonstrate commitment to the local program. The award is designed to recognize teachers who go above and beyond to provide opportunities for their students and their chapter to grow and improve.

With the Golden Owl Award, 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 honoree
  • $3,000 and the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy to each state’s grand prize winner (Agricultural Educator of the Year)

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.


Applicants must be a current Agriculture Teacher in the state of California.


  1. Nominee must agree to attend the State Award Interview Process if selected as the Regional Finalist from their region.
  2. Nominee must agree to be in attendance at the Regional and State Award Ceremonies if nominated as a finalist in those areas.

Due Date:

*Submitted by Dec. 31 by 11:59pm

Click here to submit an application.

California Ag Teachers Recognized at the National Level

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Jessica Fernandes Honored by National Association of Agricultural Educators

The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) National Teach Ag Campaign honored Buena Park High School agricultural educator Jessica Fernandes during the 2021 National Teach Ag Day. 

Every year the NAAE National Teach Ag Campaign selects individuals and/or organizations who have contributed significantly to the Teach Ag mission of ensuring a quality and diverse supply of agricultural teachers. Jessica is more than deserving of this honor due to her steadfast commitment to agricultural teacher recruitment and retention in California, Region I, and across the nation.

Jessica was selected as a 2021 NAAE National Teach Ag Champions as a result of her passion and dedication for transforming agricultural education into a more inclusive and diverse profession, increasing educators involvement in NAAE, and emphasizing the important work agricultural educators do every day to make their classrooms, schools, and communities more inclusive and equitable places for all students.

Congratulations, Jessica, well deserved!

California Ag Teachers selected as National Teacher Ambassadors for FFA

Amanda Ferguson, Cara Parlato-Butler, and Jason Ferreira from California were selected as National Teacher Ambassadors for FFA for the 2021-2022 school year. 

The National Teacher Ambassadors for FFA program provides ambassadors with professional development experience, more specifically addressing combating factors that lead to teacher burnout, such as tedium, volume, environment, work-life balance, and low levels of professional development at the midpoint of the career. In addition, the program educates ambassadors and their peers on time-saving educator resources.  In its fifth year, the program allows ambassadors to connect with their peers through workshops, giving them the tools to manage the challenges of being an agriculture teacher. The program is also a direct connection between National FFA staff and agricultural educators.

Great Job, Amanda, Cara, and Jason! Enjoy the journey.