Using the Judging Card Tabulations System for State Finals Career Development Events

By Matt Patton

Congratulations and a tremendous thank you to all the hosts of State Finals Career Development Events (CDE) this year. The time, effort, and dedication put forth by these hosts far exceeded that of previous years as we moved to the Judging Card Tabulations system. Because of that work and dedication, the 2022 California State Finals CDE’s were successful. 

As with all changes, there were growing pains and we all learned a lot about the new tabulations system. There is a lot of work to be done to reduce the workload for host sites and decrease the probability of mistakes with the new tabulations system. The California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) has the opportunity to improve the system for future events.

This year’s CATA Secondary Division meeting will be solely dedicated to addressing the Judging Card Tabulations System topic. Representatives from State Finals CDE host sites, CATA, and Judging Card will serve on a panel to explain the new system and answer questions. 

Some changes are required and below are options to accommodate the new tabulations system. 

Option #1 
Adapt aspects of California CDEs to more closely align with National CDEs when applicable. These changes will allow the use of the same Judging Card score cards as used for the national contests. The entire stock of sheets offered by Judging Card are listed here.

Curricular Code changes have been submitted to allow ag teachers and coaches to make changes to contests that do not cleanly align with the Judging Card tabulations system. This is not a mandate or recommendation, only an opportunity to make changes if that is the desire of the majority of CATA members. 

Option #2 
Build new cards that will accommodate the California CDE contests as outlined in the Curricular Code. There is a cost and some limitations associated with this option. The cost is around $1,000 per card with the stipulation that the contest cannot adopt a new card within the next five years without a monetary buyout. 

Templates or outlines for new cards are due to the CATA office by August 1, 2022. This will ensure that cards are ready for the 2023 CDE season. Each submission must include a bulleted list of required sections for the new card. 

Requirements of the Judging Card Tabulations System
The following are limitations of the Judging Card tabulation system. 

·    Events are limited to a single judging card scantron per event (front and back)

·    Eliminate hand entered scores

·    No fill in the blank answers

·    No questions with more than one answer, such as “mark all that apply”

·    Reason, practicum score, and/or previous night’s test scores will be bubbled in by officials and will be visible to students when cards are returned. 


Remembering Bob Heuvel

By Jack Havens

On June 11th, the FFA Community gathered at the FFA Center in Galt to celebrate the life of Bob Heuvel and dedicate the state officer dorms in his honor. During the event, Jack Havens, former Southern Region FFA Advisor, shared about the significant contributions Bob Heuvel made throughout his life. 

As I sat down to write some thoughts of Bob Heuvel, Ag Education Program Manager and State FFA Advisor from 1989 to 2014, I realized it’s been eight years since he retired. So, if the theories are correct, half of the current ag teachers in California were hired after his retirement and know little about the man. I knew Bob for over 40 years. He was my Master Teacher at Gonzales High School and hired me to teach at Gonzales after I received my credential. In 2000, he asked me to join him on the State Staff team as the Southern Region Supervisor.

Under Bob’s tenure, California’s ag education experienced exponential growth. Because of the Affiliation program and its relationship to Ag Incentive Grant funding, membership grew from 32,000 to 79,000 when he retired. He was responsible for the move of the State FFA Leadership Conference from Cal Poly, SLO to Fresno—and not without taking a lot of flak from many naysayers. With this change, state conference attendance grew from a few hundred to over 5000—necessitating a move from Fresno to continue to grow. Bob, along with George Gomes and Jim Aschwanden, spear-headed the drive to establish the FFA Center in Galt. Under his guidance, California FFA created and hired a Leadership Coordinator. This position was responsible for coordinating the Greenhand, MFE, ALA, and SLE conferences. This allowed California FFA to host more conferences in more locations, making leadership development conferences accessible to a greater number of students. When Department of Education policy changes made it necessary to move FFA finances under the umbrella of the State FFA Office, Bob organized the FFA Adult Board to provide oversight and hire the staff needed to establish the financial office. Under his tutelage the Statewide FFA Advisory Committee was strengthened, along with the State Ag Education Advisory Committee. 

Bob encouraged others to become strong leaders. The Region Supervisors appreciated his approach of allowing us to do what we thought was best for our Regions. At staff meetings, we were encouraged to openly discuss our opinions, often leading to lively discussions. Bob seldomly interjected his opinion, as not to sway our decisions. We will never fully know how much he protected staff and ag education from the “Fifth Floor” at the Department of Education with their constant policy review and/or changes. Bob absorbed the stress from these meetings—fighting the fight—so we could focus on serving our regions. 

At the national level, Bob was respected as a leader. Many sought his advice, including other state leaders and National FFA staff. While serving on the National FFA Board, he chaired the National FFA Convention search which resulted in the eventual move from Louisville to Indianapolis. He served through the chairs of NASAE, the national State Supervisors organization. Bob was instrumental in the National FFA Organization adopting their affiliation model, which lowered the fees per member for each affiliated chapter. At that time that saved the California FFA nearly $2.00 per member, and because of affiliation, National FFA membership has grown from approximately 450,000 members to over 735,000. 

Above all, Heuvel was a teacher. He spent six years at Gonzales High School, coaching several state judging champions in Vegetable, Farm Records and Agronomy. He then went to Reedley College to start their Agriculture Business program. He served as CATA President in 1984-85. He became the Southern Region Supervisor in 1986. He was happiest when he was around students. That became less frequent as he took on the role of State Program Manager, but all his decisions were based on what he thought was best for the students. 

A favorite story Heuvel would tell new teachers at CATA Summer Conference was about Elton Turner. You see, Elton was a Gonzales High student that challenged you daily with his poor attitude and behavior. Five years after Bob left for Reedley, he attended a Gonzales FFA reunion—Elton Turner also attended. During the event, Elton stood up, sobbing, and apologized to Heuvel. Elton thanked Bob for believing in him, making sure he finished high school, saying, “I’m a better person today because of you.” 

If Bob Heuvel was alive today, he would tell ag teachers, remember you make a difference in young people’s lives—daily! Make it a positive one. 

Scorecards and Career Development Events

The Need for Transition 

The California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Dr. Mike Spiess of Chico State University for developing a field day-specific tabulation system that has been used for decades for Career Development Events (CDE). The system was developed in the ’90s and has been updated since that time by Dr. Spiess. Far before his retirement in 2018, Dr. Spiess warned the profession that a long-term tabulations plan would be needed moving forward. He would tell anyone who would listen that he wouldn’t be around or running the system forever.

Finding a long-term sustainable tabulation program became a priority to maintain and support tabulations for CDE events moving forward. In 2017, discussion and research began to identify the path ahead for the tabulation of CDE events in California.

Why JudgingCard

JudgingCard was identified as the best alternative for the current tabulation system for the following reasons:

  • The National FFA and many other large states (Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri, etc.) use JudgingCard for CDE Finals.
  • The JudgingCard system also includes a registration system that eliminates contest hosts from having to collect fees and track down delinquent payments.
  • JudgingCard works in conjunction with AET and has the capability to upload results directly to student record books after CDE events.
  • Being a national company JudgingCard is continuously updating and evolving.  
  • The staff at JudgingCard is very responsive and easy to work with.

Scorecards and the Curricular Code 

The General Rules section of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association Curricular Code is specific to the scorecards used at State Final Career Development Events. The Curricular Code states that the scorecards to be used for state finals contests must be posted 30 days before the state finals event. The code also indicates that this posting of scorecards will supersede any samples found in the specific event rules.

The information below referring to scorecards is in the Curricular Code Introduction Section II subsection H:

Contest scorecards to be completed by contestants used for all state finals contests will be posted on the web at least 30 days prior to the date of the event. Directions as to how the cards should be marked are encouraged. Such posting will supersede any samples found in specific event rules. Common standardized forms such as those created by Scantron may be referenced by name”.

CATA Executive Committee 

In January, the CATA Executive Committee put out a recommendation related to scorecards for the 2022 State Finals CDE contests. The recommendation included the following: “The CATA Executive Committee recommends that Career Development Events (CDE) State Finals sites can choose to use the system of scoring they are most comfortable using for the 2022 CDE competition year, JudgingCard or the previous Microsoft Access System. For consistency, the Executive Committee also recommended that State Finals CDE choosing to use the JudgingCard system use the same scorecards used in the Chico State Judging Field Day.”

The Executive Committee noted that it was essential to give CDE State Finals host autonomy to select the scorecard that best fits their situation. Therefore, all CDE State Finals hosts have or will use a combination of JudgingCard and the Access System for tabulations.

Thank you to our CDE contest hosts! 

Much appreciation goes out to the high schools, community colleges, and universities that have hosted contests and field days. Many of them have taken on the challenge of learning a new system and done the prep work and training to use the JudgingCard system where applicable. Anything new takes time, resources, and patience to implement. CATA is very grateful for all the hard work before and during a contest put forth by hosts. The extra time needed to learn JudgingCard for many of those contests was substantial.

Change always involves a learning curve, and moving to the JudgingCard System will undoubtedly come with some bumps in the road. There will be a transition period similar to the one endured when moving to the Dr. Spiess Microsoft Access System. The principle of grace and gratitude should guide us during this transition.

Universal Technical Institute Teachers’ Lounge at State Conference

By: Tracy Kilby, Universal Technical Institute

We’re excited to let you know that Universal Technical Institute (UTI) will be attending this year’s FFA State Conference this month as an official sponsor!  They will be sponsoring our teacher lounge where you will be able to relax and watch each session on a live video feed in the Golden 1 Center.

Also, if you have students who learn better by doing and are looking for meaningful agricultural career paths, then Universal Technical Institute may be a great fit.  They can find UTI at Booth 203 at the Career Expo and each student that comes by the booth will get a FFA – CA blink Fendt tractor pin.

In addition, we are offering a few tours to our UTI campus during the conference to let those interested see first-hand our state-of-the-industry facility. 

See the below flyer to hand out to your students.

Hilmar Cheese Company Visitor Center: Fun, Educational and Delicious Stop for Valley Travels

Have you seen the “big cheese?” Hilmar Cheese Company Visitor Center has the only viewing windows in the world to watch employees package a 640 lb. block of cheese! Just 4 miles off of Highway 99 in Turlock, the Visitor Center is a great stop for traveling FFA Chapters and teams. 

A visit offers many opportunities: 

  • Free cheese samples include “Squeakers”, fresh cheese curds, often new to students
  • A Cheese Theatre MOOvie to learn about cheese processing and dairy sustainability
  • Hands-on exhibits about dairy farms and cheese making, including a full size cow where students can feel the milking equipment pulse
  • Production area viewing windows to see the “big cheese!”

If your group is hungry, the café offers grilled cheese and other sandwiches, soups, salads, cheese chowder, cream cheese brownies, and cheese pie (better than cheesecake). The espresso and ice cream counter features a famous brown cow milk shake and smoothies that include Hilmar whey protein. Groups of more than 30 can also pre-plan a group buffet ready to eat upon arrival. 

To stretch your legs, the adjacent park showcases the largest hand painted dairy mural (fun Instagram spot) and plenty of picnic tables.

If your schedule allows, book a guided tour (does not go into any production areas) or a hands-on cheese-making activity. Tours are adjusted to be high school appropriate and include information about career opportunities in food science and production. Tours must be scheduled more than two weeks in advance. Tour reservations are requested online on Tours and the cheese-making activity are free to public and private schools on educational field trips. 

The more than 1,500 employees of Hilmar Cheese Company make one of every 5 lbs. of American-style cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack) consumed in the U.S. Introduce your students to opportunities in food processing with a visit to the Hilmar Cheese Company Visitor Center. 

9001 N. Lander Ave/Hwy 165, Hilmar, CA 95324
Open Monday – Friday 7 am to 6 pm

California Delta

California Delta will be unveiled August 1-5 in remote Humboldt County for an inaugural class. This iteration of Delta will be a year-long professional development experience designed to increase the competence and confidence of teacher-leaders. 

Since its inception, the Delta Conference has been the premier Agriculture Educator Professional Development event nationwide. Although developed nearly two decades ago, less than 90 California teachers have participated in this transformational program. Geographic location and funding have prevented mass participation for California educators. A reimagined Delta will now be more accessible for years to come to California agriculture teachers.     

Participants will be immersed in a personal and professional atmosphere of support and collegiality. They will be challenged to explore their teaching, learning, and leading perceptions, analyze their current instructional design and leadership effectiveness, examine best practices, and adopt models and strategies to increase their impact.

Participants will be placed into mentor groups and collaborate with colleagues and mentors to apply advanced models and strategies to lessons. The Mentors, who are accomplished teachers and Delta graduates, will lead participants on a professional development school year journey. 

Delta will gather in August for the beginning of the program. They will meet at a predetermined Regional Meeting in the fall and then culminate the program at CATA Summer Conference in June. Between physical seminars, participants will meet with their mentoring groups virtually. 

Specifics for the program are listed below;

Seminar Dates  

Far North Introductory Cal-Delta Experience (August 1-5)3.5 days 
San Joaquin Regional Fall Check-in (November 19)1 day 
CATA Summer Conference Culmination (June 27-28, 2023)2 days 

Virtual Mentoring Hours 

Pre-conference Mentoring Introduction  2 hours 
Mentoring Sessions 8 hours 

Participant Responsibilities 

Participants are responsible for 100% attendance at all pre-scheduled activities. Participants are also responsible for travel costs to and from all events. Participants are expected to complete all pre-work for meetings and actively participate in all seminars.

How to sign up

Applications will be available March 15 and are due to CATA on April 30, 2022.

Moving Forward

By John Williams, CATA State Secretary

Rest, reflection, and rejuvenation are key terms used when a professional has some downtime. I think the definitions of these terms are of value to those in our profession, as being an agriculture teacher can be tiresome and wear on our abilities to meet the demands of everyday life. This article is written as I reflect on our profession as a whole; the meetings, the activities, and time we spend in the classroom or shop with students. I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to serve in many roles of leadership within the CATA, FFA and some local organizations.  These past two years have been tough on all of us and as we start to find a little “normalcy” in our everyday lives, I want to try and inspire those of us in our organization to push the limit and go forward.

 In the last two years, we have had virtual teaching, virtual contests, virtual meetings, and virtual conferences. The single best part of this organization has been the professional development opportunities that are in person, around our friends and colleagues. Some of the sessions have been boring, or not what we have thought it to be, but we all have had the opportunity to learn something at those activities. These opportunities were stolen from us. The sessions were there, but the interaction with others with the same goals and ambitions? Gone and that time cannot be made up. I am not talking about the actual workshops or region meetings, I am talking about the social aspect of our organization that has contributed to new ideas, caused friction and opened opportunities for discussion that just cannot take place through a zoom conference. Has COVID taken away our ability to communicate or have tough conversations? 

We live in a time where we feel that we cannot say what is on our mind because we are afraid that we may offend someone, or that someone may get mad and say something that will offend us. It’s time that we as an organization get over this and have hard, tough, and open conversations. Previously, I talked about reflection. I reflect every day, especially after an event.  I have looked at meetings I have attended in the past 3-5 years and I always think back to how we have become silent. Our organization is run by the teachers. Not by the state officers, not by Matt, and not by state staff. Our organization has a voice and as every year passes our voice seems to be getting quiet. Is it because we are afraid to have conversations or have we become apathetic?  

One of my favorite movie quotes is from the movie “Van Wilder”. One professor of Van Wilder said, “Apathy is the glove to which to which evil slips its hand.” I am not sure if apathy is our issue, but in some ways, it looks like a large number of the teachers in the organization have lost their interest in wanting to achieve growth in our organization. Teachers come to region/section/state meetings and stare at their phones, or they are grading papers, or they doing things on their computer. I understand how busy you all are, but when we take our attention away from important information we lose touch on what is being said. After every report that is given, there is always an opportunity to ask questions and many times nothing is asked. There have been many instances where frustrations/questions form in social media away from that report. This is not a healthy way to communicate and we need to work better.  I ask those of you who read this to take the next step and be more active when there are opportunities to ask questions or if you have an issue state them.

I understand some teachers do not want to talk in front of a meeting or make an issue, I encourage those who do not want to speak, to reach out to the person who gave the report, either pull them aside at a break or after or even a phone call or email. We are all tired from the pandemic and we have an opportunity to do and be better within our organization. Our voice needs to be loud, to give the leaders you elected an opportunity to push this organization to new heights. I have always thought the social aspect was important: at breaks, or after meetings, or whenever you’re in a group of teachers, get out there and talk with people you have not seen in a while. Make a new friend with a young teacher, be a mentor and utilize the time we have to have fun it makes the “family” better. 

I put “family” in quotes because I have always felt the CATA is a family. One thing we always have to remember is that there is no family that doesn’t have issues from time to time. The pandemic may have opened some eyes and or made people feel like they are on the outside.  But a family will only feel like a family if you put time and energy into it.  We may dislike some decisions, if you do not like the direction, step up and be a part of the solution.  You do not have to have a title next to your name to get things accomplished. Being active in committees, speaking at meetings, writing emails, and making phone calls can all be a way to make decisions.  Our family may be dysfunctional at times, and that is completely okay, ultimately we work to be better individually and as an organization to get past those times of dysfunction. 

I’ll end this article with something to think about: Vision 2030 was great for our organization, we are moving on to see what direction our vision needs to go. This summer we are doing a SWOT analysis of the organization, this is going to be based on what you all as members think. Take a moment and think about the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of the CATA and write them down. When we meet in June, we as an organization will have the opportunity to make our voices heard and get out of this COVID fog and truly make a mark on the future of CATA. This is an opportunity to start those hard conversations, to see the greatness of the teachers that truly make our organization one of a kind. This article is not to “bitch” about what is wrong, but a way to hopefully light a fire and allow us to grow. I love the CATA and the profession I have chosen and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve you all. I am guilty about not paying attention in meetings/sessions, I will strive to be better as well. I am looking forward to seeing you all at field days and summer conference…in person!

2022-23 Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship Program

The Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship Program is a collaborative effort between the Friends of the California State Fair, the California Agricultural Advisory Council, and the State Fair Gala Committee.

2022-23 Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship Program

Alpha Gamma Rho and Sigma Alpha Opportunites

Dear Ag Teacher,

As some of your students prepare to attend UC Davis, Cal Poly SLO, Chico State, or Fresno State, we would like to introduce you to Alpha Gamma Rho, the National Agricultural Fraternity and Sigma Alpha, the National Agricultural Sorority.

Depending on the school, both organizations offer affordable housing and scholarship opportunities for members and, in some cases, non-members. We hope you will encourage your students who plan on attending these schools to research these organizations and discover all they have to offer during their time in school and beyond. They can find information at or

Or they can contact the local chapters at

UC Davis Alpha Gamma Rho –          

UC Davis Sigma Alpha –

Cal Poly SLO Alpha Gamma Rho –          

Cal Poly SLO Sigma Alpha – Facebook page

Chico State Alpha Gamma Rho –  Facebook page

Fresno State Alpha Gamma Rho – Facebook page

An Agribusiness Marketing SAE for All California FFA Members

By: Hayley Kaae

The OUTSKIRTS FFA Marketing Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) allows students to explore a relatively untapped resource in the ag industry – digital marketing. They get to learn about a career that is only growing in importance while gaining access to a flexible SAE that can be completed on a computer anywhere, any time of year. It is a great entry-level experience for new members to learn the structure and resources of FFA. It can also be an alternative for students who might not be interested or have the financial means for doing a more traditional SAE project. 

FFA students gain SAE credit and support local commerce by spotlighting businesses on Google, Facebook, Ag Source Magazine, and All the while, students will reap the benefits of networking with industry professionals, building FFA awareness in their communities, and gaining real-world experience in digital storytelling. Plus, local FFA chapters will receive $10 every month from businesses in their area who choose to work with OUTSKIRTS.

OUTSKIRTS is attending the 2022 California FFA Leadership Conference! Come by our booth to learn more about our marketing SAE and how your students can benefit from the lesson plan. Also, visit with us about our immersive summer internship for FFA students!
Contact Hayley Kaae to learn more: