2021 State FFA Leadership Conference Gamification and Curriculum

By: Dane White, Educational Program Consultant, California Department of Education

What is gamification?

Gamification is a system built into the Events On Air! Platform that is being used to host the 2021 State FFA Leadership Conference. This system allows the hosts to help incentivize and observe participation of California FFA members in order to monitor session attendance and engagement. The system is built on the following:

Goals – These are the specific objectives you will define that provides the structure for a specific game or activity. Goals are tied to a specific objective, such as checking in with an exhibitor, participating in an activity, participating in social media, and more. Goals typically will award points to the attendee for completing a goal.

Badges – Badges are recognitions for completing specific goals, typically associated with a theme. Example badges would be a Notebook badge for attending a number of workshops or a Handshake badge for visiting a pre-defined number of exhibitors. Badges serve as a recognition of an attendee’s participation at an event.

Goals and Badges will be determined in April and will be set up to ensure students will be able to showcase their participation in multiple conference events (Student Success Workshops, the College and Career Exposition and General Sessions).

In other words, teachers will be able to know what their students DID with their registration and how they participated in the event.

Additionally! Predefined curriculum is being built using an online, interactive notebook system that will serve as an accompaniment to the conference sessions. Teachers will be able to help their students process and make meaning from their experiences at the conference events, providing a needed link to social, emotional and skill development that can help Elevate the impact this event will have on all members!

Stay tuned for more innovative ways the 2021 State FFA Leadership Conference can serve all of the students in your chapter and make a difference for years to come!

For more information about the 2021 State Leadership Conference, visit https://www.calaged.org/event_type/state_convention/information

CATA April Updates

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

CATA Summer Conference

The CATA 2021 Conference will be virtually held the week of June 21-24. The conference will focus on recognizing California Ag Teachers’ achievements, the organization’s business, camaraderie, and professional development. CATA Summer Conference registration is now being accepted, and paperwork is being processed. Everything can be submitted electronically by following the procedures outlined on the online registration form at http://calagteachers.org.   

After your information has been entered, the final page will contain a receipt number; print a copy of this page for your records, then forward to your district for processing. An e-mail confirmation will also be sent. If a purchase order is not yet available, please input “pending” in the appropriate box and forward a hardcopy of the purchase order to the CATA office when it becomes available. 

Contact Kerry Stockton kstockton@calagteachers.org for any changes to registration or additional information.


Registration for continuing education units (CEUs) must be processed directly through Fresno Pacific on their website.

  • Summer Conference 1 CEU: $90 (To receive credit, you must attend your regional meeting and two professional sessions.)
  • Regional Meeting/Road Show 1 CEU: $90 (To receive credit, you must attend and sign in at both Fall and Spring Regional Meetings as well as the Road Show.)

If you have not renewed your CATA dues for 2020-2021, please do so now. Click this link for a membership application to complete and send in.

NAAE Region l

California will be hosting the NAAE Region l meeting in 2024. This is a date change in the Region l rotation as a result of COVID-19. Originally, California was scheduled to host in 2022, and initial planning had begun, but we were not contractually obligated to venues or hotels. Other states had deposits and contracts in place that were delayed by the pandemic. California was asked to defer to 2024 to help other states that were facing financial ramifications from cancelations. Washington will host in 2022 and Montana will host in 2023.

Being a Professional

In the world of virtual Career Development and Leadership Development Events, California FFA is on display to the world. Parents, grandparents, administrators, industry, and agricultural education stakeholders all have access to these events. It may be easier to bend the rules in the virtual arena, but those events are also broadcast to a much larger audience with the ability to record. As agricultural teachers, we need to carry ourselves with the utmost decorum and character, and impart our students to do the same. Modeling professionalism at all times is what sets us apart.

CATA Website

The CATA website is being redesigned, and we need your help. Please send high-resolution pictures of you and your students that tell the story of our great profession. The new site will be revealed at CATA Summer Conference in June. Pictures can be downloaded here.

Curricular Code Changes

Please remember that CATA Curricular Code Changes are due to the CATA office by June 1, 2021. Proposed changes should be emailed to cata@calagteachers.org.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

Reflecting on the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association Code of Ethics

By: Tim Donovan, CATA Post-Secondary Chair-Elect, Mechanized Agriculture Instructor at Merced College

As I was pondering for an appropriate article topic, I decided to review the agriculture educators Code of Ethics, Professional Ethics Position Paper and Conduct for CDEs, due in part to the many comments and concerns expressed in Zoom meetings and phone conversations over SAE, CDE and/or record books this past year. I decided to focus on the Code of Ethics, since it is the foundation for agricultural educators. Let’s start with the meaning: a code of ethics cannot guarantee ethical behavior, it sets values and principles in which a professional aspires and by which their actions can be judged. In short, it sets the bar for every new agricultural teacher and serves as a reminder of our purpose as agricultural educators. Let’s evaluate each of the statements.

“I am proud of my profession.” That is not to say there will not be those occasional days, but in general agricultural educators should value not only themselves, but agricultural education as a whole, for our students are the future of agriculture and education. 

“We as agricultural instructors need to take time to reflect on our career.” This is especially important given our current global stage. I think it is important for us to remember that we impact our students, at all different degrees. There are those that make a substantial difference that make us reflect on our actions inside and outside of the classroom. Recently, I needed to reflect on my career choice. This semester has weighed me down to the point of exhaustion, until just last week two former students reached out just to touch base and thank me for their success. This, in turn, reminded me why we (educators) do what we do.

“I shall conduct myself with dignity and in a professional manner” and “I shall treat others with dignity and respect.” I believe these statements are the most critical. As educators we need to remember that we influence our students on a daily basis: how we react to issues, how we conduct ourselves during FFA meetings/road trips, our choice of language, and our professional attire. Furthermore, we may serve as the only role model of these important traits and conduct. 

“I shall endeavor to grow and develop in my profession.” Agricultural education as a whole adhered to this statement over the past year very successfully! Teachers’ ability to quickly transition their curriculum, lab activities and instruction to an online platform did so with creativity and with added value for their students. Just as important, they continued to focus on connecting their work to the three ring model. The best part of this is that teachers learned to share their ideas with one another more than ever before. 

“I shall work in harmony with school authorities and other teachers of the school.” If you look at the successful agriculture programs throughout the state, you will most likely discover a program that has rapport with many of the school and district personnel. These programs recognize the value of developing relationships from the custodians to the superintendent, creating a connection that has the potential to support your chapter vision and goals. The key takeaway is to make friends not enemies, thus almost assuring future projects and funding.  

“I shall take an active part in school and community life.” Part of this statement relates back to having harmony with your school. As agricultural educators, we can easily get caught up in maintaining our agriculture program and duties within. However, it is critical that agriculture be present throughout the campus community. Teacher involvement in campus leadership roles or on committees keeps agriculture programs at the forefront of change, one thing to remember as administrative decisions change quickly; if you have to be on that bus, it’s better to be the driver then a passenger. 

“I shall work for the advancement of Agriculture and promote agricultural education.” This statement lends itself at many levels, as an agricultural educator you will need to decide how to advocate. You can keep your AG ED story within your community, or you can run for CATA offices at the sectional, regional or state level, thus ensuring the future of agricultural education. 

“I shall be patient, honest and fair in my dealings.” We can apply this towards the many aspects of both our personal and professional life. As it applies to CDEs, educators/coaches should be patient and fair when preparing students to compete at contests. We should always ensure students abide by rules and expectations, exhibit good sportsmanship and avoid encouraging or allowing students to break contest rules.  

“I shall strive to set before my students, by example, the highest standards of citizenship. I shall give of myself that each of my students may be inspired to make his future life more full and productive.” Agricultural education has stood as the model for CTE programs, which is reflected in our over 1,000 agricultural teachers in the state. However, we need to not rest on our laurels. With more than 50% of California Ag teachers having taught less than five years or less it is important we all remind ourselves of the importance of the Code of Ethics. Experienced teachers: it is our duty to actively live the words of this code and to pass on their value to the new teachers. Most importantly, living the words of this document makes us better role models for our students. 

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

Letter From the CATA Executive Committee

On behalf of the CATA Executive Committee, we write this letter to encourage our members to think about how we work through these trying times, particularly, preparing our students to compete in virtual LDE and CDE competitions.  It has come to our attention that there are some shortfalls in how some students are behaving in virtual competitions. Some examples include:

  • Cheating on tests and judging
  • Eating during competitions 
  • Using filters or inappropriate backgrounds on zoom
  • Walking behind individuals giving reasons to “photo bomb” the competitor
  • Turning off computer cameras during competitions

We understand virtual competitions are not ideal, but we must make our current situation work.  With that being said, we need everyone’s help; we are missing the “Ag Van Talks” before contests.  Please work with your students and explain the need to be professional when competing in these contests.  It does not matter if the contest is in person or virtual, the students are still a reflection of us as teachers, the programs they come from and FFA as a whole.  We need to seriously have these discussions with our students as we risk embarrassment in front of the universities, colleges and community members who put in countless hours to host these virtual and future in person events.  

It is our job to promote our programs, promote this association and show how we are great in all aspects of Career Technical Education.  Our job is both stressful and rewarding; we need to focus on the rewarding aspects and push our students to behave in a better way.  For the vast majority of students competing, there is no issue, but we all know that small percentage of negativity will have a lasting effect on our future.  We have an opportunity to show how we overcame the challenges of school closures and Covid-19, let us take this opportunity to show how great our programs are and how our students can perform even in a less than ideal environment. 

We ask that you all look to the Code of Ethics we all received when becoming a new teacher. Be proud of our profession and programs; grow with our students and overcome this challenging time; work with other teachers throughout the state; take an active role in our students and campuses; promote agricultural education and set expectations for our students; be honest and instill those beliefs in our students; treat others with dignity; choose not to be negative towards others; and be the best example for our students. 


Rosemary Cummings, Shay Williams-Hopper, Kevin Woodard, John Williams, Erin Gorter, Stephanie Goeb, Jessie Cardoso, Leimone Waite, and Tim Donovan

CATA Executive Committee

CATA Code of Ethics

  1. I am proud of my profession
  2. I shall conduct myself with dignity and in a professional manner.
  3. I shall endeavor to grown and develop in my profession.
  4. I shall work in harmony with school authorities and other teachers of the school.
  5. I shall take an active part in school and community life.
  6. I shall work for the advancement of agriculture and promote agricultural education.
  7. I shall be patient, honest and fair in my dealings.
  8. I shall treat others with dignity and respect.
  9. I shall strive to set before my students, by example, the highest standards of citizenship.
  10. I shall give of myself that each of my students may be inspired to make his future life more full and productive

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

California Department of Education Update: April 2021

By: Charles Parker, California Department of Education, State FFA Advisor

At the end of March, I received my first Pfizer vaccination. As I left the vaccination center, I was waiting for the sun to shine, the clouds to open up, singing to occur, for something to make me appreciate the moment. But, I simply walked to my car and headed off to my next meeting. Maybe in three weeks when I receive the second dose I will feel as if everything is better.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sincerely appreciative of receiving the vaccination and look forward to being able to travel to visit family and friends. As with most of you, it has been almost a year since I was last able to see my parents.

While some students never left the classroom, we are seeing more California students returning to schools where they are beginning to experience the comfort of those great teachers. Yes, not all districts are electing to open up, a few are continuing to choose virtual learning through the end of the current school year.

Masking, distancing, proper ventilation, COVID-19 testing, and much more are used to keep students, staff and school communities safe. The goal is not only to reopen schools, but to do it in a safe manner so that they will remain open.

Athletics in many schools are back in vogue. You are seeing live broadcasts of football games while golf, baseball, and other sports are starting to open up. Cheerleading has also been given the greenlight to begin their delayed season. Recently marching bands were allowed to perform with restrictions.

As we begin to open up school farms and laboratories, practice for upcoming competitions, and conduct project visits, we must ensure that we are doing so in a safe environment. Continue to be proactive and follow all health advisories. According to Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, moving forward we should focus on: 

  • Mental health and well-being should be at the foundation of all activities and interactions.
  • Relationship-building amongst students, teachers, and staff is of utmost importance.
  • Learning opportunities should be inquiry-based and honor the cultural context of each student.
  • Professional learning, collaboration opportunities, and coaching for all educators must be prioritized.
  • Collaboration and communication with families and community partners is critical. 

We are not there yet, but each day seems to be bringing us closer to what our new normal will be. That light I see in the distance means that I will be able to see teachers and students sooner, rather than later.


  1. PLEASE, if you have not already done so, go to AET and complete your individual profile. 
  2. State Leadership Conference registration is open. The dates of the 93rd Annual State FFA Leadership Conference are May 14-16. This is a unique opportunity where every student who has ever had the desire to attend a state conference can easily sign-up and take part. Make the event part of your curriculum and embrace the opportunities that exist for every student.
  3. Career Development Events Timelines (All will be held in a virtual format). Utilize www.judgingcard.com to register for upcoming Career Development Event State Finals. Names can be changed until the date of the event

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

Sacramento Scene: April 2021

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

The California Legislature went on spring break on March 25, reconvened on April 5, and now the legislative cycle will be in full swing until June. It will be interesting to see how the legislature and Governor manage a surplus budget amidst a pandemic and a potential recall. 

Legislative Actions of Interest

AB 839 (O’Donnell) – Passage of this bill would augment the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant by an additional $150 million for CTEIG. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond signed on as a sponsor of the bill. This bill is on the agenda to be heard by the Assembly Education Committee on April 7. CATA has submitted a letter of support and will testify backing the bill during the hearing. 

SB 309 (Leyva) – This bill would change the existing Education Code to be more specific about offering high school classes that meet college entrance requirements. The bill inserts the need to provide access to A-G subject matter requirements to high school students. The Education Code already requires schools to offer an opportunity to pupils to meet post-secondary admission requirements. This bill would specify A-G classes. A meeting is scheduled with Senator Leyva to discuss this bill on April 6. CATA will support this bill if it’s amended by adding the inclusion of a CTE Pathway at all California Schools. Adding equal access to CTE classes would give students authentic career path choices. 

K-12 Strong Work Force Grant Audit – Assembly Education Chair O’Donnell submitted a formal audit request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee regarding the K-12 SWF Grant. If taken up, this audit would require an in-depth audit of the expenditures of the grant. Of particular interest to CATA would be the $12 million dollars annually awarded to the Chancellor’s Office for K-12 Industry Specialists. These positions are designed to support K-12 CTE programs across the state. 

Other Actions of Interest

Career Technical Education Regulatory Work 

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) announced a proposed regulation that would include adding the Single Subject credentials in Art, Dance, Music, and Theater as credentials that could teach both general education and career-technical education courses. The addition of a CTE designation to performing arts teaching credentials is a slippery slope. CATA, the Get REAL Coalition, and numerous other CTE organizations came out against this proposal. Letters of opposition, e-mails, and phone calls to the CCTC resulted in a decision to reevaluate the proposal and not bring the initiative forward at this time.

Defunding the Statewide Director of Agriculture, Water, and Environmental Technology position 

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s (CCC) Office is considering the dissolution of the Statewide Director of Agriculture, Water, and Environmental Technology position along with the Regional Director role. This decision was announced by Sheneui Weber, the Vice Chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development. This position and leadership structure has been in existence for more than two decades. Currently, the State-Wide Agriculture Director is Nancy Gutierrez. 

CATA, Cal Fire, CCC Ag, Water, and Environmental Technology Advisory Committee, Industry Leaders, and Senators, and Assembly Members have all met with Vice Chancellor Weber regarding the position’s funding. At this point, Mrs. Weber does not seem willing to reconsider the reallocation of funds.

Update on the Live-Light Dispute

December 2020 – California FFA was served a Petition to Compel Arbitration by Coleman & Horowitt LLP on behalf of Live-Light, Inc. It was claimed that California FFA owed Live-Light Inc $3.8 million dollars in damages. Live-Light Entertainment was the company California FFA used to sound and light the State FFA Leadership Conference up until 2018. 

March 2021- It was announced in Fresno Superior Court that Live-Lights Petition to Compel Arbitration was denied. California FFA is not compelled to enter Arbitration with Live-Light. 

At this point, California FFA is not responsible for any of the alleged damages cited in the petition for Arbitration. Now we wait to see if Live-Light thinks they have a strong enough case to sue California FFA. If California FFA is served with legal papers at any point, the FFA Adult Board will be notified. 

How will the Pandemic Improve Us? 

Plato famously wrote: “Our need will be the real creator.”  Those writings later morphed into the cliché “necessity is the mother of invention.”

As schools slowly reopen, as students are allowed to assemble for athletics, FFA events, and graduations, we need to ask ourselves: what pandemic innovations should remain? 

People went to extraordinary measures, engaged in creative problem solving, re-imagined curriculum, re-thought FFA activities, and adapted SAE’s to new restrictions. 

The amount of creative energy and resourcefulness that was expended to continue to bring the three-circle model to students was immense. Which of those innovations, changes and adaptations should be continued as the pandemic subsides? 

In my opinion, returning to the status quo would be a lost opportunity to innovate based on the experiences of the last 14 months. I am in no way advocating for the abandonment of steadfast institutional traditions that make FFA. Rather, I am advocating implementing those innovations that enhanced those traditions. 

What is needed is a postmortem on the 2020-2021 academic year. Similar to a lesson debrief and writing down strategies that work and those that need refining, collectively as a profession, we need to reflect on the events that happened during the pandemic. 

This analysis should occur at all levels of our profession. There should be programmatic, sectional, regional, and state-level review and melding of new and old practices. 

Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/