Proficiency Awards

By: Shay Williams-Hopper, Agriculture Education Consultant, San Joaquin Region

This year, California has 29 members representing us as finalists in the National Proficiency Awards Program in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Hours of hard work in SAE development, application revisions, and interview preparation can truly be seen by not only these individuals but all of the students who completed proficiency award applications last year!

As we prepare for this year’s application process, I wanted to give a few tips to help your students be successful with their applications.

1. Choosing the appropriate category: One of the hardest parts of the whole application is determining if your student is in the correct category.  National FFA updates categories every year and those descriptions can be found here:  One thing to keep in mind as you are determining the correct placement is that with 48 categories, some of the hours and finances accrued in an SAE project will not fit perfectly into one category.  For example, a student who owns dairy cattle and milks those cows and produces butter to sell at a farmers market, cannot include the sale of butter or the time invested in producing that butter on a Dairy Entrepreneurship Application.  Those dollars and hours would need to be pulled out into a separate SAE for Ag Processing.  Also, all skills must be applicable to the Agriculture Industry Sector.  Information that can be deemed part of another industry is subject to disqualification.  Please check in with your regional supervisor if you have questions or feel free to contact me to assist with proper placement.

2. Compare the application to the rubric:  The rubric is followed at both the State and National levels.  While some areas are worth fewer points than others, you should be striving to earn as many points as possible in ALL areas.  You are likely giving up “free” points if you are not reviewing the rubric. Better yet, find a friend in the English department and have them read the application and score it on the rubric. They will give you honest feedback for grammar, spelling, point deductions, and questions they have after reading the application!

3. Have your student tell their SAE Story:  We say this repeatedly, but agriculture in California is extremely different from anywhere else in our country.  Your student will need to explain as much of their project as they can. Things that seem common sense here are not so common in other places.  Try to vary the application and use as many different examples as possible. Repetition of the same skills makes for a less interesting read.  Connect to industry practices if possible. Also, make sure the student’s voice is heard in the application.  Interviewers can tell when the student has had assistance writing the application, and when they have not.

4. Keep accurate records:  As students are entering financial and journal entries, be sure that they are accurately documenting how those hours have been earned and categorizing finances correctly.  Students with an entrepreneurship/research project must have financial entries.  Entrepreneurship projects should also have some type of inventory entries.  If they do not, then that needs to be explained in Question A1.  For example, why does that student own a tractor if they are farming 50 acres of cotton?  Placement projects need to record hours and income earned on their financial entries pages.  Hours from the journal will not transfer over to the application on placement applications.

5. Be sure that SAE Plans are complete: This is a disqualification area at the State Level if they are not complete!

6. Do NOT include information from 2022 on the application: Applications are closed as of December 31, 2021.  Plans can be mentioned for the future, but you cannot say, “In January 2022, I … with my project.”  Leave 2022 for next year’s application! This is also the same for that student’s resume.  Awards earned in 2022, such as a Sectional Proficiency Award Winner, cannot be included.  The resume will be awarded zero points!

7. The “clipboard” is your student moneymaker:  This is the largest amount of points on the entire application.  Make it count.  The clipboard, which can be found on the student’s SAE Program Manager, allows for students to briefly describe their project.  Please coach your students to explain what the project was, what skills they learned, and make sure they are showing growth from year to year in their skill attainment.  Fill in all the space provided.

8. Pictures:  Use the pictures to highlight the awesome skill attainment these students have acquired.  Stay away from “posed” pictures with groups of people.  Make sure that the skill being showcased and the student can be seen in the photo.  Start collecting photos now!  Do not wait until January when the application is due.  Remember that as you are doing SAE visits and you are documenting those visits in AET, you can add a picture from that visit that then drops into the student’s AET files for easy access later!  Start collecting these pictures when they are freshmen. Try to stay away from “showing” livestock pictures.  Your descriptions need to describe what I can’t see in the picture.  I can see you giving an injection; tell me why we are administering the vaccination.  What does it prevent? What method are you using to administer it and why?

I hope that these hints will help your students to be successful as they are moving forward. I am always willing to help should you have a question and so are your regional supervisors. 

Are you Next?

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Agricultural Education has consistently grown our own. For the most part, CATA leadership, California Department of Education (CDE) state staff, and university educators, at one time, all taught at the high school level. In addition, many community college instructors cut their teeth at the secondary level. Therefore, intrinsic knowledge of secondary agricultural education is advantageous to excel in such positions.

Traditionally, people who fill those positions have made a conscious decision and sacrificed to qualify for those jobs.

43% of current CDE state staff will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. The last five years have seen the retirement or Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) of five university professors and the expansion of almost the same number of positions.

CATA needs annual leaders to step up at the state, regional, and sectional levels.

The question is, who among us will be next to answer the call to help lead our profession into the next decade? 

The vast majority of positions mentioned above require prerequisite qualifications. Therefore, planning is needed to be eligible to apply for such a position.

CATA office at all levels requires that members have at least two years of paid membership and be in good standing. CATA state officer candidates must have served on the governing board as a Regional President, Division Chair, or Division Chair-Elect. 

Joining the California Department of Education is a time-consuming endeavor. Applicants must take an assessment and be vetted. Assessment tests are reviewed on the 20th of every month, and results are generally posted at the beginning of the following month. If an applicant’s assessment needs to be modified or adjusted, more time is required. To be considered for a state staff job, the process must be initiated a month before posting. If working at the state staff level is something that you are remotely interested in, get on the list and maintain eligibility just in case.

Foreseeably with the expansion of free community college for all, enrollment will also increase. As a result, the demand for qualified instructors will also increase. Typically, some iteration of a master’s degree is required to teach at the post-secondary level. Online programs, night classes, and summer programs are good ways to obtain a master’s degree and maintain current employment.

Most university tenure track positions require doctorate work for eligibility. Fortunately, there are now several options for distant learning to earn doctoral degrees. Numerous individuals in our ranks have recently received their doctorates, many of whom did so without relocating or changing their day jobs. Big kudos to those individuals for investing in themselves and making sacrifices that will benefit ag education for years to come. With retirements and expansions looming, more high school and community college agricultural teachers will need to obtain additional degrees to ensure teacher training at the university is based on actual classroom experience.

Anyone with any interest in any of the careers mentioned above should reach out to someone currently in one of those positions. People that have successfully navigated the process are a great resource to determine a path forward. Meeting the criteria for some of these jobs can take years. Prior planning is essential to be ready when the opportunity presents itself.

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

Opening the Door

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

It is exciting that we are, in some places, once again being allowed to join together. I know those conversations around the table, in the hallway, and outside the room are often the most valuable. I applaud the teachers for making the effort to provide opportunities to meet in-person as well as a venue for those that are not yet comfortable with in-person meetings. 

As an educator, our goal is to provide an opportunity for ALL students to learn and grow. I personally believe that through agricultural education and the FFA, we have the best delivery method for all students to experience success. It is through the many opportunities that you, agricultural teachers, provide to students that they feel welcome.

I remember, a few years ago, being confronted by teachers who were disappointed in a decision I had made. I know, this is not uncommon. But, nonetheless, earlier a teacher had called wanting to provide a meaningful experience for a particular student. This student, based on their religious beliefs, could not wear a logo. Thus, they could not wear what I coveted, the blue and gold jacket. As much as I wanted to require the student to wear the jacket, I knew deep down that was not what was best for the student or the program. In the end, I shared with the teachers that the activity was about engaging the student, allowing them to do their part in that particular activity, and in the end, to feel part of a team and welcomed. Wearing the jacket was important to me, but it was not as important as that individual student.

For those that know me, you know I bleed blue and gold, but, that evening, watching that student recite their part, I could not help but feel the right decision was made. It was most certainly an individual incident, but it began, in my mind, to set the value of being inclusive. 

Over the years, I have had to continue to make decisions similar to the one made regarding the logo. Allowing a student who was too big to fit into the largest FFA jacket made to stand on stage with the choir at the State FFA Leadership Conference and share her lovely voice, permitting a Hispanic student to recite the FFA Creed in Spanish, and letting a student wear a hat while competing on a judging team because of a medical concern are other incidents that I remember. Not because it was a popular decision, but because it was the right decision for the student. 

California has always been at the forefront of change. At the time, often the change was met with loud criticism. We know that change is not easy, but it is important. We must always look ahead at what we can be, not what we are.

As I reflect back, I am honored to be part of an agriculture tradition that has found ways to be inclusive, even when it was not popular. In 1952, Leo Clark, a black student from Foothill High School in Hayward, was elected to serve as the State President for the California Association. This was some twelve years prior to the merger of the NFA and the FFA. In fact, in 1962, Dan Chatman, another black student from Madera, was elected as the State Sentinel. Dan went on the next year to serve as the State President and even participated in the National Prepared Public Speaking event.

It is also commonly known, at least in the California journals, that girls were in agricultural education programs long before 1969. The story goes that prior to girls being admitted into FFA, advisors that believed the organization was for all students simply used the first initial of the first name along with the complete last name in filling out membership rosters. This technique allowed young ladies to participate, at least locally, long before a change was instituted at the national level. Although I was not teaching at that time, I can assure you that not all teachers nor fellow members were enthusiastic about girls being allowed to be members.

Then, in the late 1980s, a movement began to ensure that every student enrolled in an agriculture class was an FFA member. Wow – at sectional and regional meetings you would have thought that such an idea would be the downfall of the organization. Remarks such as “not all students want to be in FFA” or “why pay dues when they are not competitive” were quickly shared. 

In each of these instances, if the majority ruled, the change would not have occurred. But, through the leadership of CATA, our industry partners, and the Agricultural Education State Staff, the change did take place and our organization is better because of it.

I know we are in difficult times and each day we, you, and I, have to make tough decisions. I often get asked, when will it stop? Simple answer, never! We will always be confronted with a different idea, circumstance, or social issue. It is up to us, as educators of our youth, to find ways to include everyone in the conversation.

National FFA is embarking on a discussion on modifications to the various ceremonies so that they can be more inclusive. The delegates at the 2021 National FFA Convention will have a subcommittee that will develop recommendations for consideration by the National FFA Board. 

What other discussions should we be having? Are there other traditions that we have that tend to be exclusive rather than inclusive? Do we even understand what our students need?

Look at your classroom and the students that enter it every day. Each one is different and is looking for how to belong. Are we asking the right questions? Are we being observant of their traditions? 

A few sections and regions recently have begun to allow students to recite the FFA Creed and conduct the Opening and Closing Ceremony in Spanish. What else can we do to include all students?

I know, deep down, that we all believe that what we do in agricultural education and the FFA is for all students. That, if allowed, every individual that enters our doors will find a niche in our organization that will enable them to be successful and become a contributing member to our local community.

We can no longer simply state that our door is open. Through our actions, we must demonstrate that we care about the person, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what their personal views are, that they are welcome and encouraged to be part of our community.

This is not the first time a tough decision is made, nor will it be the last. Even an old dog like me continues to learn every day. As I stated in a previous article, you are my superheroes! You are there for everyone, no matter the circumstance. Continue to wear your cape with pride, being there for ALL who need you.

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

Factors Contributing to the Decline of Males Entering the Agriculture Teaching Profession

By: Dr. John Williams, Fresno State University, State CATA Secretary

Most of you are aware that I have recently completed a Doctorate of Education this past May. The process of earning a doctorate has been both stressful and rewarding, as I feel that I have learned many new things about myself and the students we all teach. This article is a brief summary of my research that I used to write my dissertation. I did not want to submit all 80 pages to the Golden Slate as it is incredibly boring to read about the methodologies, theories, and relevant research that is included throughout each chapter.  In this article, I am sharing with you the abstract from my dissertation. The abstract is a brief summary that explains the study and some of the findings. A brief explanation after the abstract is also included in this article. I am interested to hear feedback from all of you and am hopeful for future discussions on how we can address the male teacher shortage in agricultural education.  


This phenomenological qualitative study examines the factors contributing to why males are not entering the agriculture teaching profession. This study also illustrates the value of the agriculture education three-component model and its impact on college and career choice of secondary agriculture education students. The agriculture teacher shortage in California is also addressed in this study. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with three subgroups of participants that included males who earned a degree in agriculture education but did not become teachers, current students enrolled in a mechanized agriculture course, and leaders within agriculture education in California.

Six themes were found throughout the research: Agriculture Teachers Influence on Career Choice, Career Choice Dissatisfaction, Hands-On Learning through SAE, Personal Goals, FFA Involvement Sparks Interests, and No Shortage. These themes were developed through the coding processes which also reported twenty-eight subthemes. Findings of the study suggest the males do not like the extra responsibilities of agriculture teachers. The SAE component was most impactful on career choice reported by participants. The agriculture teacher shortage in California is not a current issue as has been reported in previous years. The study also identified the FFA impacts a student’s decision to be active in agriculture education, but does not make an impact on the decision to go to college. Agriculture teachers motivate students and are a positive factor in why students choose the agriculture teaching profession. 


This study was based upon phenomena of the lived experiences of agriculture students whose career goal was to become high school agriculture teachers.  Other participants of the study included leaders of agricultural education and alumni of agricultural education majors who were male and chose not to become agriculture teachers. The study gives us an opportunity to look at our rewarding careers and determine if there is a need to change the way we do things.  It is important to know that I love the fact that a majority of our profession is female and all the great things all teachers in our association do for students.  The purpose of why I chose this topic is because we are at risk of losing positive male role models for students. If we continue on the trend we are seeing now, it will become much harder to recruit and retain males in our profession, which may make it hard for us to recruit and retain male students in our programs.  

Agricultural education is diverse, from the students who participate to the teachers in our classrooms and to the members of our organization. That is a fantastic highlight to our profession and something we need to continue to build. Forty years ago our profession was much different and we are constantly pushing the limits of ourselves and our students, and students see the time we put in, which may be a detriment for many students who thought they wanted to be a teacher.  

The other aspects of the study dissected the three-component model and tried to determine which of the three components was the most impactful on student success. Most people I have talked to have said they thought the FFA component made the most impact, but responses in this study highlighted that the FFA was a contributing factor in being active in agricultural education, not necessarily an impact on career choice or the decision to go to college. The findings outline that the SAE component is the most impactful on career choice and weigh heavily on a student’s decision to attend college. For those of you who do not stress the importance of SAE projects, you may want to change your perception as research, in this case, reports that the SAE component has a much higher impact on student success than the two other components of the model.  

Lastly, the classroom component was very rarely referenced in the participant interviews, but the impact a teacher has on success was reported in almost every participant’s explanation on why they chose to become an agricultural teacher. This confirms that we as teachers are doing a great job.  It is my hope that those of you reading this know that you are doing great and you are making an impact.  The relationships we build with students have a long-lasting effect and it is something our students carry with them for a long time.  If you have any questions or comments on this article, or on my research, please let me know. 

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

How to Avoid the Five Dysfunctions of a Team in Agricultural Education

By: Helene Dondero, Student Teacher, Coast Union High School 

In some organizations, teams can function and reach common goals, while others can have highly skilled teams that fail to reach their potential and goals. While this idea of dysfunctional teams was originally presented as a corporate problem, I can see how these five dysfunctions can apply to education and agricultural education. Within agricultural education, I see two main groups, or teams, that agricultural educators work closely with. The first is the other agriculture teachers in their department, and the second includes other teachers at the school site and the administration. For these teams to function efficiently to reach common goals, there are a few roadblocks that may occur that everyone needs to be aware of. Throughout this article, we will explore the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and how it relates to agricultural education. These five dysfunctions all build on one another, and if you cannot master the previous dysfunction, you will not be able to master the future dysfunctions. 

The first dysfunction of a team, according to Patrick Lencioni, is the absence of trust. When it comes to the absence of trust, teams that experience this often have an unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. When teams or groups are not vulnerable to one other, they cannot genuinely open up about their mistakes and weaknesses. In agricultural education, if we cannot be vulnerable with our co-teachers about our strengths and weaknesses, it will be hard to build a foundation of trust within our department. When trust is not present, it can affect communication and the team’s ability to get the task done. Trust within a department allows confidence among the team members that their co-teachers are good and that there is no reason for the group to be protective. To overcome this dysfunction requires members of the department to understand one another and understand what each member brings to the team. 

The second dysfunction is the fear of conflict. When agricultural departments lack trust, it can hinder their ability to participate and engage in an unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. If agricultural departments do not have trust and are not open and willing to debate what is best for the future of their programs, it can lead to a vague discussion that ultimately leads nowhere. If the team can have “conflict,” meaning debate passionately on what they view as the next steps for the program, it can lead to program growth and strengthening because the team is willing to talk and discuss what is best for the future. Overcoming dysfunction to a department must acknowledge that conflict can be productive, it must remain respectful, and, if this is accomplished, the department will reach a resolution naturally. 

The third dysfunction in the lack of commitment. You may think, wait, I’m committed to my students and providing them with the best education, but the type of commitment that I am referring to is the commitment to the department’s common goals. When departments are unable to discuss the next steps for a program freely and openly with the other department members, it can lead to the team members rarely buying in and committing to a decision even though they may “agree” during the meeting. For departments to overcome this, they must have clarity and buy-in from all team members. Teams must not always be in pursuit of consensus and certainty because they can often hinder department members’ buy-in. Focusing too much on having a consensus and having everyone agree can halt decision-making. Certainty can also prevent departments from creating goals and outcomes. To overcome this, departments must be willing to take risks. 

The fourth dysfunction is avoidance of accountability. When departments have a lack of buy-in or there is not a clear plan of action, it can cause progress to be halted, and team members may be scared to call each other out on their actions and behavior. Accountability is a word that can have multiple meanings in terms of working as a team or in a department. Accountability means that members are willing to call out their department members on their performance or behaviors that may hurt the team or prevent them from reaching their common goal. To overcome department members’ fears of holding others accountable there must be publication of goals and standards of the team, simple and regular team reviews and when a goal or checkpoint is reached the team members must be allowed some sort of reward. When these three steps are taken it can help build the success of the department. 

The fifth dysfunction is inattention to results. Within a department, this occurs when members put their individual needs or the needs of their special area over the needs of the department/program to help reach the collective goals of a team. This final dysfunction is considered to be the ultimate dysfunction and can derail teams from reaching their goals. To overcome this, departments must minimize individual behaviors, avoid distractions, and enjoy the successes and failures as a team.

After learning about the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, I encourage you to look inside yourself and evaluate how much trust you feel in your department or other members of the team in your life and see if more trust can be built to help better the other areas of dysfunction as well. 

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

My Superhero is an Agriculture Teacher

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

It seems today there are a number of characters that have the distinction of being called a superhero. From Superman to Batman, Wonder Woman to Elektra, and from the Black Panther to Doctor Strange, you can take your pick; everyone has their favorite.

According to Passionate Views, there are seven characteristics found in superheroes. These are: 

  1. Super-Factor – what powers define them.
  2. Courage – bravery is the central part of the job.
  3. Sacrifice – puts others before them.
  4. Strong Moral Code – provides justice.
  5. Inspiration – motivates others to do good in life.
  6. Good Character – not what they want, but what others need.
  7. Flaws – no one is perfect, even superheroes have their weaknesses.

The more effort you put in, the more you become like your favorite character, not in the costume, but in your everyday actions.

When I look at agriculture teachers, I see a modern-day hero. They leap tall fences with a single push, are faster than a bull that sees red, and are more powerful than the local superintendent. A glance at the seven characteristics and you will find, in a watermark, the simple statement, agriculture teacher.

  1. Super-Factor – Agriculture teachers are highly trained to not only be a teacher, but also to be a counselor, a travel agent, and, in many instances, a parent. They are often found jumping from one task to another by simply entering their pickup wearing pressed shirts and slacks and exiting in coveralls. agriculture teachers drive trucks, vans, tractors, pull livestock trailers, and load portable scales with one arm.
  2. Courage – Have you been on an overnight trip with a few excited teenagers? Agriculture teachers step into the lives of students and risk everything to help them become real contributors to their communities. 
  3. Sacrifice – When the calendar turns to a new year, agriculture teachers begin the annual migration from one field day to the next. Every weekend is spent in a van with a group of students in search of perfection. The agriculture teachers put off family vacations, reunions, coaching their son or daughter’s team, and those evening dates. 
  4. Strong Moral Code – Fairness is the code for all agriculture teachers. When in the moment, they are as competitive as any athlete. They work hard and prepare and compete with vigor and determination. But, when the competition is over, you will find them having breakfast together. Agriculture teachers, even the most competitive, are eager to share their knowledge in hopes of stimulating others. They want to win, but the desire to win does not outweigh the desire to be fair and see the right students in the winner’s circle.
  5. Inspiration – Agriculture teachers, through personal stories (and a few that are made up), create an environment for students to see success. It is through their daily actions that their students find the desire to do well and to rise to the expectations of their teachers. The job of an agriculture teacher may be long, but what the students see is a committed person who makes time for them and truly wants them to succeed.
  6. Good Character – Agriculture teachers help at the church social on Sunday, drive the rooters bus to the Friday football game, set up for the 7 a.m. Monday teachers meeting, have coffee every Wednesday at the local breakfast diner with the farmers, build the Sophomore Class float Thursday nights, and find time to stop by the Tuesday City Council meeting in search of new projects. In each instance, the agriculture teacher is not looking for glory, they are simply fitting into their community and finding ways to help.
  7. Flaws – As with our superheroes, agriculture teachers also have their flaws. For many, they have never learned to say “NO!” They are notoriously ineffective in delegating work. They easily add to their calendar but rarely remove anything. Agriculture teachers give up their lunchtime to listen to students.

It is easy to see why agriculture teachers are my superheroes. Through it all, no matter the situation, when a fellow teacher lets out a simple cry, hundreds of agriculture teachers dawn their capes and soar to the rescue. In the past few years, we have seen these superheroes at work. They have found ways to stimulate student learning, create alternatives to in-class instruction and develop new avenues to allow students to grow in their leadership.

Thank you to those that have selected ag teaching as your career. Know that I see you for who you are. You may not wear your cape in public, but I see it tucked away, only to come out when needed. May 2021-2022 be a year for you to showcase your superhero characteristics.

Thank you for being my SUPERHERO!

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

The Structure of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association

The following is a summarized and condensed description of the structure of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) to develop a greater understanding of the organization. 

CATA’s Purpose 

CATA aims to promote and improve the teaching of agriculture in California and foster the welfare of those engaged in the agricultural education profession.

CATA Membership

The majority of CATA membership consists of active members but is also comprised of associate, corporate, designated, honorary, and student and elementary teacher members. It includes teachers of agricultural education in elementary and secondary schools, community colleges and universities, State Agricultural Education Staff members, and teacher educators. In addition, it may include former agricultural teachers who are currently serving in administrative or other educational positions.  CATA members shall express their interest and desire to the Governing Board Members for actions or services to be performed by the Executive Director.

California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) Organizational Structure

CATA is the professional organization for agricultural teachers at middle schools, secondary schools, community colleges, and universities in California.

The smallest subdivision of CATA is the Sectional Level, which is composed of agricultural teachers in a specific geographical area. Each section has elected officers who plan the sectional calendar of activities for the year. 

The next unit of the CATA organization is the Regional Level. California is broken up into six regions. Each region has a Fall and Spring Regional Meeting planned and executed by the Regional Officers. Regions also hold two business sessions at the CATA Summer Conference. 

Finally, the state level’s organizational structure consists of the Governing Board and Executive Director.

CATA Governing Board 

The Governing Board is composed of the Executive Committee, Regional Presidents, and the three Division Chair-Elects. The Governing Board directs and supports the organization during the year. CATA operation authority is channeled through the Governing Board to the CATA President and the Executive Director. The Governing Board adopts policies and procedures that represent the interests and desires of the membership.

CATA Executive Committee 

The Executive Committee consists of the President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Past President, the three Division Chairs, and Post-Secondary Chair-Elect. Each position is elected by the membership. In addition, the Executive Committee makes recommendations to the Governing Board on CATA business and governance issues.  

CATA Executive Director

The Executive Director performs the duties of the position in conjunction with the policies and procedures adopted by the Governing Board. The CATA President provides general coordination to the Executive Director. The primary duties of the Executive Director are to advocate for agricultural education and career technical education at the state legislative level. In addition, the Executive Director facilitates the operation of the organization and the annual CATA Conference. The Executive Director also works with the CA FFA Foundation and CA FFA Adult Board to complete their missions.

CATA Executive Assistant  

In conjunction with the Executive Director, the Executive Assistant serves the membership performing the organization’s administrative duties. In addition, the Executive Assistant manages the member roles, financial transactions, and acts as the point of contact for the day-to-day operations of CATA.


CATA is composed of three divisions: Secondary, Post-Secondary, and Operations. The purpose of these divisions is to allow an open exchange of ideas and to develop recommendations for improving CATA programs. Each Division elects a Chair, Chair-Elect, Vice-Chair, and a Secretary at the annual CATA Conference. All CATA members in secondary schools are members of the Secondary School Division and focus on secondary issues. Community college and university CATA members make up the Post-Secondary Division. Finally, all CATA members are members of the Operations Division. All matters, which need to be discussed by both groups, shall be assigned to a committee in Operations.

Standing Committees

The standing committees for the Secondary School and Post-Secondary Divisions are as follows: 

  • Affairs and Relations
  • Curriculum
  • Inservice
  • Student Activities 
  • Budget and Audit 
  • Nominations/Bylaws/Professional Awards 
  • Curricular Code 
  • Membership Services 
  • Agricultural Issues 
  • Professional Ethics 
  • Teacher Recruitment/Retention 
  • Tech Prep/Articulation/Curriculum

The standing committees for the Operations Division are:

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

Agricultural Education Master Calendar


15 National Applications Due (Honorary American Degree, Distinguished Service Citations, VIP Award, American Degree & American Star)

30 Agriculture Education Incentive Grant Applications Due


1 National Certifications/Applications Due (Agriscience Fair, National Chapter & National Proficiency Awards)

4 Independence Day

7-14 National Chapter Award Scoring and Finalist Selection

7-16 National Agriscience Fair Finalist Selection

14 National Convention Hotel Room Registration Opens

15 Greenhand Leadership Conference Registration Opens

18-22 State Officer Summit – Washington DC

25-28 Regional Officer Leadership Conference – Buellton 


2 National CDE Certifications Due

4-6 California Youth Agriculture Exposition – Tulare 

6-7 Southern Region SOLS

13-14 San Joaquin Region SOLC

20-21 Change Makers Summit (Virtual)

26-28 Superior Region COLC


6 Labor Day

7-9 State Staff Retreat – Paso Robles

11-12 South Coast Region SOLC – Atascadero

14 Sonoma Section Leadership Night

14-18 Central Region Section Leadership Nights

15 Solano/Alameda Section Leadership Night

17-18 Southern Region CATA Meeting – Costa Mesa

20 State FFA Executive Committee Meeting – Galt 

20 State FFA Advisory Committee Meeting – Galt

20 State FFA Adult Board Meeting – Galt

21 National Convention Delegate Training – Galt 

21-22 Central Region Section Leadership Nights

22 Humboldt/Del Norte Section Leadership Night

22 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lemoore

22 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Colusa 

23 Mendo-Lake Section Leadership Night

23 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lemoore

23 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Colusa

24 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lemoore 

24 North Coast Region Road Show

25 North Coast Region Fall CATA Meeting – Fort Bragg

28 State Ag Ed Advisory Committee Meeting – Sacramento 


5 Greenhand Leadership Conference – El Capitan

5 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lodi

5 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Bakersfield 

6 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lodi

6 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Calipatria 

6 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Bakersfield 

7 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lodi

7 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Heritage

7 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Bakersfield 

8 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Heritage 

8 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Lodi 

9-10 South Coast Region COLC

10 South Coast Region CATA Meeting – Hollister

11 Columbus Day

12 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Fresno 

13 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Paso Robles

13 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Fresno 

13 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Petaluma 

14 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Paso Robles

14 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Fresno 

14 Shasta College Field Day

15 Greenhand Leadership Conference – Paso Robles

16 Southern Region COLC – Indio 

24-26 NASAE Annual Meeting – Indianapolis, IN

27-30 National FFA Convention – Indianapolis, IN

31 Halloween


4-5 New Professional Institute – Fresno 

6 State Finals Cotton Judging – Fresno

11 Veteran’s Day

11-12 Superior Region Road Show

12 Superior Region CATA Meeting – Etna

19-20 Central Region CATA Meeting & Road Show 

19-20 San Joaquin Region CATA Meeting & Road Show

25 Thanksgiving Day

30-4 NAAE Conference – New Orleans


1 State Scholarship Applications Due

2-4 Mid-Winter Community College Meeting

13 Southern Region Road Show – Pomona 

13 South Coast Region Road Show – San Luis Obispo

25 Christmas Day


1 New Year’s Day

3-5 State Staff Meeting – Galt

6-7 Student Teacher Conclave – Modesto 

7-8 MFE/ALA – Sacramento

8 Porterville Citrus Contest – Porterville College

13-14 CATA Governing Board – Galt  

14 Applications Due (State Committee Chair, State Nominating Committee & State Officer)

14-15 MFE/ALA – Redding 

17 Martin Luther King Day

21-22 MFE/ALA – Monterey 1

22 Reedley College Winter Field Day & State Finals – Reedley 

23-24 MFE/ALA – Monterey 2 

24 State Degrees Due through AET

28-29 MFE/ALA – Ontario

31-1 Supervising Teacher Institute – Sacramento 


1 Applications Due (National Chapter, Website Award, Honorary State Degree, Distinguished Service, Star Administrator, Star Counselor, Star Supporting Staff, Star Reporter, Hall of Fame, Courtesy Corps, Press Corps & State Talent)

4 Central Region Speaking Finals – MJC 

5 Winter State Finals – Fresno 

8-10 World Ag Expo – Tulare 

11-12 MFE/ALA – Modesto

12 Chico State Field Day

12 Lincoln’s Birthday

12 Southern Region CATA/FFA Meetings – Cal Poly Pomona

14 Valentine’s Day

14-18 State Star Award Tour

15 State FFA Leadership Conference Registration Due

18 Region Proficiency Award Lists Finalized

18-19 MFE/ALA – Visalia 

20-21 MFE/ALA – Visalia 

21 President’s Day

21 State FFA Advisory Committee Meeting – Galt 

21 State FFA Executive Committee Meeting – Galt

21 State FFA Officer Candidate Experience 

21-25 State Proficiency Award Scoring

21-26 National FFA Week

22-25 Sacramento Leadership Experience – Sacramento 

25 State Agriscience Fair Research Papers/Applications Due

25 Central Region Parli Pro Finals – Columbia College

26 Central Region CATA/FFA Meetings – Sacramento

26 San Joaquin Region CATA/FFA Meetings – Tulare

27 North Coast Region State Degree Ceremony

28 North Coast Region Leadership Development Finals

28 North Coast Region CATA/ FFA Meeting – Humboldt

28 South Coast Region CATA Meeting – San Luis Obispo


1 State FFA Nominating Committee Meeting – Galt 

3 South Coast Region Spring FFA Meeting/LDE’s – King City

4 State Proficiency Award Finalists Announced

4-5 UC Davis Field Day & State Finals – Davis 

5 Merced College Ag Welding Contest

10 State Prepared Manuscripts & Job Interview Materials Due

12 Superior Region CATA Meeting – Chico 

12 Merced College Field Day

17 State Agriscience Fair Research Paper Results Announced

17 St. Patrick’s Day

19 MJC Field Day – Modesto 

24 Leadership Development Event Finals – Sacramento 

25 State Agriscience Display Boards Setup – Sacramento 

25-26 State Parli Pro Finals – Sacramento 

26 State Agriscience Fair Judging and Interviews – Sacramento 

26-29 State FFA Leadership Conference – Sacramento 

27 State Proficiency & Scholarship Interviews – Sacramento 

28 State Ag Ed Advisory Committee Meeting – Sacramento 

31 Cesar Chavez Day


2 CRC Field Day & State Finals – Elk Grove

2 Reedley College Field Day 

5 San Joaquin Region Section State Degree Banquet – TBD 

6 San Joaquin Region Section State Degree Banquet – TBD 

7 San Joaquin Region Section State Degree Banquet – TBD

7 Central Region State Degree & Award Ceremony – Sheldon (tentative)

9 Fresno State Field Day & State Finals

12 Central Region State Degree & Awards Ceremony – Turlock 

17 Easter Sunday

24 South Coast Region State Degree Banquet – Arroyo Grande

26 Central Region State Degree & Awards Ceremony – Delta College (tentative) 

28 Central Region State Degree & Awards Ceremony – Sheldon (tentative)


7 Cal Poly State Finals – San Luis Obispo

8 Mother’s Day

30 Memorial Day


1 National Delegate Applications Due

8-10 State Staff Meeting – Galt

11 Bob Heuvel Dedication & Celebration – Galt 

19 Father’s Day

19-23 CATA Summer Conference – San Luis Obispo20 State Ag Ed Advisory Committee Meeting – San Luis Obispo

Ag. Skills Survey: Skills Sought by Employers in the Agricultural Industry

By Dr. Sharon Freeman, Dr. Avery Culbertson, Dr. Steven Rocca, Dr. Rosco Vaughn, Cameron Standridge, Jasmine Flores, and Morgan Henson

Work ethic was rated as the most important skill for agriculture employees by employers. An Ag. Skills Survey was recently conducted to identify agriculture skills that employers are looking for today in the agricultural industry. This information was needed for the development of the Agricultural Career Readiness Skills Certificate Pathway for the 21st Century (ACRS21), which was designed to support soft skills and career readiness practices for agriculture students. This $1 million USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Grant was awarded to faculty members from California State University, Fresno and Texas A&M, Kingsville who are working together to create the transferrable pathway. The ACRS21 Certificate recognizes students’ experiential learning activities and awards them an industry-backed certificate as proof of their career readiness development. Examples of experiential learning include public speaking, leadership involvement, job shadowing, and supervised agriculture projects.  

The survey included 19 questions to determine general information about the employer, type of business, and their willingness to provide career development opportunities for students. To facilitate a peer-to-peer communication chain, members of the ACRS21 Ag. Industry Subcommittee, including agriculture industry representatives, USDA agencies, commodity groups, Farm Bureau staff, and educational leaders utilized their personal contact lists to introduce the survey to agricultural employers.  This word of mouth approach proved very effective in dispersing the survey.  Faculty members and students at Fresno State grouped the survey responses into different categories, identified by particular codes. Participants represented 117 different employers, which resulted in 2,106 individual responses to the survey. Table 1 includes the Overall Top 10 Skills and a breakdown by educational level for high school (HS), community college (2-Year), and university (4-Year) representing each level of the certificate pathway. Work ethic was included in the top three skills for HS, 2-Year, and 4-Year, making it the most valuable overall skill needed in today’s workforce. Communication, dependability, task oriented, and life-long learners were also skills rated in the top five overall. 

Figure 1 shows that upper-level positions need employees with additional agriculture industry knowledge and leadership skills, while lower-level employees need dependability, life-long learner, positive attitude, time management, and work ethic skills. Task oriented and written communication were the skills that ranked the highest for the mid-level positions.  In addition, several skills were more evenly required across all position levels such as, ambition, critical thinking, teamwork, and computer technology. The technical skill areas that employers identified the most often included computer technology skills (131), agriculture mechanics and machinery (109), and plant production (77). 

Figure 1 

Frequencies for Overall Top 15 Ag Skills per Educational Level 

Agricultural teachers can help their students develop soft skills and career readiness practices by encouraging them to open the ACRS21 Certificate Pathway in AET through the Application Manager. There is no charge, the requirements are built into normal FFA activities, and the ACRS21 Certificate is backed by employers in the agricultural industry. 

For information regarding the ACRS21 Certificate Pathway, please contact Dr. Sharon Freeman at, or refer to the following two websites: 

AET website – 

Fresno State website –

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

The Beginning of SAE’s: Rufus Stimson

By: Kayla Erath, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

My name is Kayla Erath and I student taught at Frontier High School spring 2021 semester. I am excited to join this agriculture education family. I have wanted to join this profession since I was a sophomore in high school. Our field has been around for over 100 years, and I love hearing about the history it took to get us to where we are today. Students and educators around the United States know of the Smiths-Hughes Act of 1917, the FFA absorption of the NFA in 1965, women integration in 1969, and having the first female African-American National FFA President in 2017. These are a few dates that we know by heart, but what led to the beginning of agricultural education? 

Let’s take a step back and look at the three-ring model, which is composed of classroom, FFA (leadership), and SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience). Every student who is in an agriculture class has experienced all these three rings, and the best educators implement all three portions without belittling any of the others. Students are introduced to this model in every agriculture classroom and see each of the rings throughout their time in the classroom. The classroom portion is perhaps the easiest to see as we educators are teaching agriculture science, leadership, and production agriculture every day. Leadership is implemented through being an active participant in the FFA through officers, committees, competitive events, conferences, and many more activities which have evolved over the years. The last component is the SAE project where students either love or hate having to complete a hands-on project to get experience in agriculture. This component is one that I have always wondered about. How did the idea of an SAE project come to fruition? 

One of the trailblazers in our field was Rufus Stimson. One of his main contributions was to the SAE component of the three-ring model. Rufus Stimson was born in Massachusetts in February of 1868. He was born and raised on a farm. This impacted his career choice, because agriculture was a passion of his. He was an educated man who attended Colby College in Main, Harvard University, and Yale Divinity School. After his education, he was hired at the Connecticut Agricultural College where he worked his way up to being President Pro Tempore in October of 1901. He lasted in this position until 1908 when he became the director of the Smith Agricultural School in Massachusetts, which is still an operating high school today. In 1911, he became the state supervisor of agricultural education for Massachusetts. He worked in this job until he retired in 1938. After retirement, “Stimson received an appointment as a Research Specialist in Agricultural Education in the U.S. Office of Education for the purpose of writing a history of agricultural education” (Moore, 1988). 

His legacy can be seen in his “home project” method where during his time at the Smith Agricultural School in Massachusetts he implemented the idea of teaching agriculture in a high school classroom and challenging students to implement their findings at home. This “home project” method can be seen today as our organization’s Supervised Agricultural Experience project. This is one of the three rings of agricultural education, and without it, millions of past and present FFA members would not have been able to experience this hands-on portion of our model. Included in the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act was the requirement that agriculture students had to have farm practice.

This was directly based on the work that Rufus Stimson had implemented at the Smith Agricultural School. It is because of the work of Rufus Stimson that students across the United States are driven to work with their hands and create a home project. This project has led to thousands of job opportunities, and career passions being discovered. Without Mr. Stimson, our model of Agricultural Education may look very different today.

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