Giving Tuesday Recap

By: Matt Patton, California FFA Foundation

Thanks to the generous support of donors, California FFA Foundation and Blue Diamond Growers are proud to announce that Giving Tuesday donation efforts raised enough money for 890 FFA jackets, easily surpassing the goal of 750 jackets. That’s the equivalent of $66,750!

Donor support since 2016, has allowed for more than 2,000 FFA members to have a jacket of their very own. Thank you for joining the California FFA Foundation and Blue Diamond Growers in providing our members with the opportunity to wear FFA’s most recognized symbol, a blue corduroy jacket with their own name stitched in corn gold. 

Although Giving Tuesday has passed, it’s never too late to give the gift of blue. Your donation can make a difference. Visit our website to see the many ways you can support the California FFA Foundation. 

Thank you for investing in the future of agriculture and the 93,000 members of California FFA.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

Scholarship Deadlines

With the new year approaching, that also means scholarship deadlines are approaching. California FFA and CATA will be sending out reminders of scholarship application deadlines via social media and email blasts, but for your convenience, a list of scholarship deadlines through February 1 is listed in this article.

Should you have any questions about scholarship applications, reach out to Charles Parker or Matt Patton. 

January – State Degree, State Proficiency, Star Farmer, Star in Ag Business, Star in Ag Placement and Star in Ag Science applications due to regional supervisors.

January 15 – State Nominating Committee Applications Due

January 15 – State Officer Applications Due

January 15 – State Scholarship Applications Due

January 15 – State Conference Committee Chair and Sub-Chair Applications Due

January 15 – State Distinguished Service Citation Applications Due (business/companies)

January 15 – Honorary State Degree Applications Due (individuals)

January 15 – State FFA Conference Registration Opens

February 1 – National Scholarship Applications Due

February 1 – National Chapter Applications Due

February 1 – Star Administrator Applications Due

February 1 – Star Counselor Applications Due

February 1 – Star Supporting Staff Applications Due

February 1 – Star Reporter Applications Due

February 1 – Hall of Chapter Applications Due

February 1 – State Talent Applications Due

February 1 – Courtesy Corp Applications Due

February 1 – Website Award Applications Due

February 1 – Press Corp Applications Due

February 1 – Golden Owl Award Applications Due (State Star Advisor)

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

Subject Matter Requirements (SMR) in Agriculture and the Need to Update

By: Dr. Lynn Martindale, UC Davis

To a majority of agricultural teachers, Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) in agriculture are foreign. But in reality, all Single Subject Agriculture (SSA) credentialed teachers have all been exposed and deemed competent in the SMRs.  If you did not go through an agricultural education program at a university, you may have had to take the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) in agriculture you are very familiar with SMRs for all six domains. Currently SMR are made up of six domains: 

  1. Plant and Soil Science 
  2. Ornamental Horticulture 
  3. Animal Science 
  4. Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management 
  5. Agricultural Business and Economics; 
  6. Agricultural Systems Technology (Appendix C).   

SSA credentialed teachers must have demonstrated competence in all six domains to be authorized to teach agriculture. Competency in SMRs may be accomplished in two ways: 

1. By completing two to three courses in each of the six domains of agriculture in university waivered program

2. By passing the Commission approved CSET in Agriculture

What are SMRs?

“Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) were drafted by subject matter advisory panels, reviewed by independent panels for alignment with the applicable student content standards, guidelines, or curriculum frameworks and for potential bias; evaluated by California educators statewide; and finalized by the panel”. (CCTC Commission Meeting-Jan-Feb 2006

In the early 1990’s, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) developed and adopted standards for subject matter preparation programs (university programs) needed by beginning teachers (CCTC Commission Meeting-Jan-Feb 2006). In 2004, the CTC identified an advisory committee to update the SMRs in Phase III, which included agriculture. The agricultural education committee was made up of seven representatives from four of the five universities credentialing agricultural teachers in California, three high school teachers and one junior high school teacher (University representatives – Glen Casey and Bob Flores, Cal Poly, SLO; Ann DeLay, Fresno State; Lisa Leonardo PhD student, Lynn Martindale and Cary Trexler, UC Davis; and Michael Spiess, Chico State; high school teachers – Mike Albiani, Larry Crabtree, and Hugh Mooney and junior high teacher Richard Herrera).

Why are agriculture SMRs important?

SMRs are what the universities base their undergraduate coursework on to obtain a waiver in a particular program area. SMRs in agriculture assure students attending Cal Poly, Pomona, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Fresno State, UC Davis, or Chico State receive a similar education when obtaining an undergraduate degree leading to an agricultural credential. If a student majoring in another area of agriculture at a university decides they want to become an agricultural teacher, the student must demonstrate competency through coursework or by passing the CSET in agriculture.   

In addition to serving as guidelines for university undergraduate programs in agricultural education, the SMRs also serve as guidelines for agriculture high school pathways standards.  The California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards in Agricultural and Natural Resources were updated in 2016. The updated standards included a new pathway, increasing from six to seven pathways which include: Agricultural Business, Agricultural Mechanics, Agriscience (newly added), Animal Science, Forestry & Natural Resources, Ornamental Horticulture, and Plant and Soil Science (CTE Model Curriculum Standard). 

With the addition of a new pathway, the SMRs no longer align. Although Agriscience has been taught in high school agriculture departments across the state since 1986, when the A-G Ag Biology courses were adopted, this new course met both high school science graduation requirements and university entrance requirements. Agriculture having A-G courses was a game changer in the 90’s when the shift was to “all academic, all the time”. 

In 2019, there are 283 agricultural teachers. 29% of our teaching population is teaching 16,229 students in A-G Ag Biology or the UCCI Biology and Sustainable Agriculture and 194 agricultural teachers, 20% of our teaching population, is teaching 9,733 students in Ag Chemistry or UCCI Chemistry & Agriscience (University of California Curriculum Integration) aligned with NGSS standards, meeting both high school graduation requirements and university entrance requirements. 

Agricultural Education Majors and SSA credentialed teachers, are not required by the SMR to have taken university courses to have an in-depth understanding of either biology or chemistry.  Some teachers have taken the CSETs in Biology or Chemistry to make them “highly qualified” to teach these courses. There is some concern that high school students taking these agriculture courses in biology and chemistry are not being challenged by the rigor of the course and relevancy of agriculture added to the course. Thus, these students are missing out on two things, preparation for college level work in biology and chemistry, but also an understanding of how agriculture plays an integral part in both biology and chemistry. Ultimately, the question circles back to the course work required to obtain an SSA credential and if the universities are adequately preparing the SSA credentialed teachers. According to the current SMRs, there is no need to have any further understanding of biology or chemistry.

So, what is next?

All five universities would like to see an update of the SMRs. Knowing they will not be updated again for 15-20 years, what should they include?  Should they include more science courses in biology and chemistry? Should the SMRs include Food Science courses? If these courses are included what should be reduced? We cannot just increase undergraduate courses without taking something away.  

Agriculture Specialist Credential

The SMRs do not affect the Agricultural Specialist Credential. There is no test to meet the requirements of the Agricultural Specialist Credential, it can only be obtained via university course work. The Agricultural Specialist Credential is a California specific credential and cannot be obtained by attending an out of state university.  


Appendix C-Subject Matter Requirements and Program Standards for Single Subject Matter Programs (2019).  Retrieved from

CCTC Commission Meeting: January-February 2006—Agenda.  (n.d.). Retrieved from

CTE Model Curriculum Standards. (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://www/cde/ca/gov/ci/ct/sf/ctemcstancdards.asp.

University of California Curriculum Integration. (n.d.). Retrieved from

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

California Department of Education Update, December 2019

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

Thanksgiving, a time of reflection and celebration. During the brief break from work, I had the opportunity to join family in eating way more than we should and enjoying conversation that seems to never occur. Time was also available to reflect on the past few months and to think ahead to the coming weeks.

I am not sure what has changed, but navigating the hiring process this time has been almost enjoyable. Each step has proceeded with what I would refer to as the speed of light. In early December, we conducted interviews to fill the North Coast Region Supervisor position. With any luck we hope to have a new person on staff in early January.

I want to publicly thank the State Staff for taking on additional duties over the past few months. Without hesitation, each staff member showed why they are part of this team, displaying an eagerness to help and move forward. It was during my reflective time, that I was able to fully appreciate the individuals I get to work with each and every day. What they do for teachers and students cannot be measured.

In the coming weeks, we will begin to receive a myriad of applications. It is this process that will allow your students and your programs to receive the recognition they deserve. Remind your students about scholarship applications. Seek out those that have outstanding SAE projects and encourage them to complete a proficiency award application. Look at AET and confirm those students that should be pushed to achieve the State FFA Degree. Complete those nominations for Star Administrator, Star Counselor, and Star Supporting Staff Member. And, don’t forget to complete the new Golden Owl Award application for yourself or neighboring agriculture teacher who is doing an outstanding job.

You should have received an email from Mr. Patton regarding the comment time for the Perkins V State Plan application. It is important that teachers, students, administrators, parents, and industry partners submit their comments. In the latest draft, those items we hold close to our heart have been included. However, we cannot assume that without comment they will remain. If a few vocal groups comment on the need to eliminate CTSO’s, and there are not any comments in support, then they could be removed from the Perkins V application. Take a few moments and complete the feedback form to ensure our priorities remain. 

In our comments, we are highlighting the need to have a CTSO, which is aligned with the pathway being offered. We are also concerned about industry engagement and the use of advisory committees. A third objective is ensuring that those wishing to be a CTE teacher have the proper credential and practical experience necessary to be successful. Finally, the measurement tool that has been selected for all programs to address is dual credit. This is a quality measure of program success, but is it the right measurement. What about using work-based learning as a measurement? We talk about the importance of career readiness and engaging more students in experiential learning so that they have the skills necessary to be successful. These are but a few topics that we hope are part of the Perkins V plan.

I am thankful for the family and friends that I have who are there when I need a push, an encouraging word or simply a smile. As we through December, I want to wish each of you a wonderful Christmas in hopes that you unwrap the gift you have always dreamed of. May you spend the holiday season with family and friends. Before we know it, 2020 will have arrived!

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

Sacramento Scene, December 2019

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director


The holiday season gives us time to reflect, rejuvenate and prepare for the hectic spring that awaits all agricultural educators. Several of you will accidentally set off the alarms at school sites as you continue to serve your students, FFA programs and your community over the break. Traditionally, agricultural teachers spend time on campus when other teachers are off campus, as they do one of two things; desperately trying to catch up or trying to get ahead of the upcoming spring tsunami of events, field days, CDE practices, project visits, fairs and the like. Take a couple of days over break to spend time with friends and family and reconnect with those loved ones that share you with your FFA families during the school year. Thank those that support you in your labor of love that is being an agricultural teacher. 

Many campuses will be closing this week after a whirlwind of final exams, culminating projects, make up work, student pleas, and a gluttony of cookies, candy, and caffeine. Before leaving campus, remember to thank those at your site that help to make your program a success. Gratitude to the following individuals goes a long way; administration, support staff, custodial, maintenance, security, FFA boosters and alumni groups, and anyone else that makes your job easier. Above all, give a special thanks to those individuals you spend ten, twelve, or more hours a day with, your fellow agricultural teachers. 

5 minutes before you go – Call to Action for the Perkins Plan

Please, take a couple of minutes to make public comment on the California State Plan for Perkins V. This document will govern how Perkins funding is allocated to CTE programs over the next several years. There are several parts of the document that are beneficial to agricultural education that need to be reinforced and a couple that could be modified to better serve students at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. You don’t need to comment on all aspects of the plan, pick the two that you are most passionate about and write an original paragraph directed at them specifically. Use the link below to make public comment about the plan. 

Items that are important to agricultural education and CATA, and included in the Draft California Perkins V State Plan are as follows:

  • Proper credentialing of CTE teachers – page 54
  • Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) and leadership development – page 65 & 66
  • Definition of an alternative to CTSO leadership development – page 65
  • Industry Involvement (required two industry advisory committee meetings) – page 54

Items that are concerning for agricultural education and CATA included in the Draft California Perkins V State Plan

  • Accountability for Results – The committee has chosen option (b) as California’s accountability measure. Option (b) measures the percentage of students completing dual enrollment classes. – page 131
  • The preferable option would be option (c) the percentage of students participated in work-based learning. – page 130

Click on the link below to submit comments to the CWPJAC related to the Draft California Perkins V State Plan. Look for the Give Feedback button on the linked page.


Written Public Comment on the California Perkins V State Plan

Have a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2020. 


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Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.,, 209 744-1605

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit