A Jacket For Those in Need

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

California FFA still has FFA jackets to give to those in need. California has experienced an unprecedented economic downturn as a result of natural disasters and pandemic. Those obstacles need not stand in the way of agricultural students and an FFA jacket. There is an opportunity to identify FFA students in need from your chapter to receive an FFA jacket free of charge. Every chapter is eligible for at least two free jackets. Jacket applications in excess of this will not be funded through the California FFA at this time.

Jacket redemption will be handled through the National FFA Give Blue program. Working with National FFA allowed us to secure a jacket and a tie or scarf at $75, which includes shipping to your FFA Chapter, tax and other associated expenses. To redeem your chapter’s jackets, please follow the instructions below. Applications will be processed in batches. 

  1. Select a student to complete the application, or you can complete the application on their behalf. 
  2. Whoever completes the application needs to log into their National FFA account. Visit https://giftofblue.ffa.org.
  3. If the student is not already on your national roster, please email Trisha Chapman at tchapman@californiaffa.org. She can assist in getting them added.
  4. From there, follow the application directions. It is advised to have the following information ready and accessible when you start the process.
    1. You will need to know the members state, chapter, and full name to select the student from the chapter roster. In Step 1, fill in the first and last name of the member you are nominating. Then select the state and chapter from the dropdown list. Next, look at the list of members and select  the student from the list using the students first 3 initials of his/her last name and the first initial of their first name. This will be used to verify the student is an official member of this chapter and provide the advisor reviewing the application with all the student’s information. 
    2. You will need to know what size standard jacket you want to order for your nominee and what style tie or scarf. To see the tie and scarf options please click on the link: Shop FFA and click on official dress. 
    3. You will also need to write a “Nomination Statement” explaining why this member should receive a jacket from the Give the Gift of Blue program. This program was designed to gift jackets to members who will take full advantage of the opportunities offered in FFA. Funding is limited so please make sure your nominee fits this requirement. 

Please be sure to complete the application process to redeem jackets for your chapter. Jackets will be shipped directly to your FFA chapter, via the address included on the application. 

Thank you again for your role in making this program become a reality. If you have any questions, please email Matt Patton.

Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.mpatton@calagteachers.org209 744-1605

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


National FFA Teacher Ambassador Program

By: Nicole Borba, Dinuba High School

Each year, the National FFA Organization selects representatives for the National FFA Teacher Ambassador program. These ambassadors represent teachers like you, and dedicate a year of service to promoting and sharing available tools from National FFA to educators. This year, California is well represented with three ambassadors for the 2020-2021 term: Jordana Faria, Jason Ferreira, and myself, Nicole Borba. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves, provide an overview of the program, and how we can help you.

Starting with introductions, hailing from the Central Region, we have Jordana. Jordana teaches at Le Grand High School and is serving as a first time ambassador. She says, “my favorite part about serving as ambassador is introducing new teachers to the materials that are available at their fingertips…. all for free!” 

From the San Joaquin Region, we have two ambassadors. Jason, who teaches at Hanford High School, is serving his second term as an ambassador. Jason shares, “my interest in serving in leadership positions for the ag teaching profession is what truly motivated me to pursue a position as an ambassador. Sharing the National FFA resources is an exciting way to connect with other agriculture teachers and build a network of talented teachers.” 

I am also serving as a first year ambassador and currently teach at Dinuba High School. I have loved the opportunity to network with fellow educators and give back. With our schedule always seeming to be jam-packed, sharing ways to make our daily routines a little easier has been a delight. My favorite part of serving in this capacity is seeing how many different tools we can implement so easily, to strengthen all three circles, and make our planning easier.

The ambassadors are trained in regards to the numerous resources available from National FFA and are here to serve you and be an asset to your program with the implementation of these tools. We provide training to educators about the curriculum, chapter resources, and experiences offered by National FFA. Many of these resources are not widely known to a lot of teachers, including us when we first began this journey. What is great about this program, is we get to share these resources with you to make your planning a little easier. Most of these lessons and curriculum are ready to implement into your classroom, as well as being editable to fit your individual needs. With our busy schedules, having something pre-made and ready to implement can be a game changer.

To help spread awareness of these resources, ambassadors put on workshops and professional development opportunities for current and pre-service teachers to walk them through some of the resources, how-to guides, how to utilize FFA.org, ideas for implementation and sharing experiences with these tools within programs. In addition to sharing the resources available, ambassadors provide feedback from the educational field to the national level about a variety of topics and ways in which tools can be improved or become more user-friendly. We are a voice for the teachers and states we represent. 

Our roles as ambassadors for California began in June, and we’ve been keeping busy ever since. After a week-long virtual training session, due to the current circumstances, your ambassadors have aimed to have a big impact within our state. We feel honored for every workshop we get to put on and the ability to help our fellow owls. Since we began, we have provided professional development opportunities to the CATA Summer Conference attendees, UC Davis student teachers, National FFA Convention educators, State-wide Roadshow and the New Professionals Institute. In addition, we answer questions one-on-one and on social media platforms. Once a month, we try to share a resource on the California Ag Ed Discussion Lab or pass along information from the national organization to you.

Are you, or a group of teachers, looking for professional development and training on the various resources available through National FFA? Reach out to one of us ambassadors! You can find our contact info at here, in the CATA Directory, or connect with us over social media. We can tailor workshops to fit your needs, provide a range in workshop length, focus on a specific resource or provide a broad overview of all resources. We are here to serve you CATA!

If you are interested in applying to serve as a Teacher Ambassador, applications become available at the beginning of February on FFA.org. Applicants move forward to an interview process before final selections are made. Ambassadors serve a one-year term, June to June. In person ambassador trainings are held at the National FFA Center and accrued travel expenses are covered by National FFA. This is a great opportunity for you to give back to your fellow educators, as I know we have thoroughly enjoyed helping you, getting to meet new teachers, and share the bountiful resources National FFA has to offer.

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

Gratitude = November

By: Rosemary Cummings, CATA State President

Gratitude. Yes, it seems cliche and I cultivated so many topics in my mind: Creative Virtual Lessons, Fun Virtual Meetings, Drive Through Distribution and so on. However, none of these topics seemed to resonate with me.  Knowing this article will hit your inbox in November, the month of Thanksgiving, I decided to go with what my heart was telling me, which was advocating for gratitude.

During these past eight months, many of our lives have become similar to a chapter from a fiction novel. Who would have predicted our fate? Despite all of this craziness, I believe we have many things to be thankful for.  For myself, it has been the time to focus on my family. As agriculture teachers, our family often takes a back seat in order for us to fulfill our passions. It has been a blessing to put my family’s priorities at the top of my to do list. The simple things such as cooking meals, checking homework and doing chores all without the rush of my next “work thing.” 

Most importantly, it has provided me with the opportunity to reflect upon what makes me happy.  Crazy I know…what makes us happy. If you have not yet pondered this very important question, you should.  Being an effective teacher, educator, and mentor must start from within. Knowing what makes us happy helps individuals recognize, and gain gratitude for, what we have.  

With all the extra time we have been given from this new no-travel schedule, I challenge you to think about those individuals, peer professionals, family members, friends, and staff members who have helped us to be our best selves. Take advantage of this extra time to pick up a pen and express your appreciation for them.  Life is short, times are uncertain, but you can make an impact in others’ lives by a simple note, card, or text.  Yes, I know my message is not magical or new, but it is important to appreciate others in our lives, and sometimes we need a simple reminder to do so.  

The greatest things we have in life are created by the simple things we do everyday. It is not hard, nor complex, yet it makes a profound difference in others’ lives. Pay it forward.

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

California Department of Education, November 2020 Update

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

The election has come and gone and yet everything still remains the same in Sacramento. Discussions are occurring on when CDE will be returning to the building and at what capacity as well as how every student should be tested and who should be paying that fee.

Funding Topics

  1. Perkins – Funding has not been reduced nor have the rules changed. Perkins must be expended for CTE programs and cannot be used to supplant. Reach out to your Regional Supervisor should you have questions on allowable expenditures.
  2. CTEIG – Funding is constant, no reductions have been made. The latest round of grants that were scored last month, will be reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education during their January meeting. 


  1. Redesign – The current webpage is undergoing a radical redesign by a new vendor. At the first of the year we will be moving to the new webpage. I am excited at what I have seen and the new layout of the site.
  2. AET – AET will be the new site for all student entries. We will no longer be adding or changing students in calaged. AET is also the site where teacher information will be entered and updated. AET will become our data portal. All current information in calaged for both students and teachers will be migrated to AET in late November.

Other Information

  1. Agriculture Incentive Grant
  • AO400’s have been sent to district superintendents for their signatures. Please work with your Superintendent to make sure they have signed and returned the form. We must collect all AO400’s before we can issue checks to Districts.
  • Discussions are continuing regarding the application updates.
  • Fall 2020 – Regional Meetings will be a time questions can be asked of the region’s representative to clarify what the committee is recommending.
  • Spring 2021 – State Agricultural Education Advisory Committee will review the proposed application and provide suggestions and thoughts.
  • Summer 2021 – Summer CATA Conference will provide a final opportunity for teacher input. 
  • Summer 2021 – State Staff will submit the new application to the Department of Education for approval.
  • January 2022 – New application along with instructions will be posted.
  • June 30, 2022 – Programs wishing to be considered for funding through the Agriculture Incentive Grant program bust submit the newly approved application. 

2. Leadership Continuum

  • Greenhand Conferences – Registration is live for Greenhand Conferences and can be completed through the registration process on calaged. Once you have registered an email will be provided on how you can access the new materials developed to help teachers and students through the virtual event.

3. FFA 

BIG congratulations to students and teachers who took part in the 93rd National FFA Convention. 

  • National Officer
    • David Lopez, Holtville FFA, elected National FFA Western Region Vice President
  • Proficiency Winners
    • Nine winners are the most in any one year for California.
    • Ag Mech Design/Fabrication – Cole Marchy, Turlock
    • Ag Sales Entrepreneurship – Alyssa Laredo, Merced
    • Beef Entrepreneurship – Hunter Aue, Merced-Golden Valley
    • Environmental Science – Spencer Stephens, Merced-Golden Valley
    • Equine Science Placement – Deyvet Carbayal, Madera
    • Fiber and/or Oil Crops – Peter Bliss, Merced-Golden Valley
    • Nursery Operations – Abigail VanKlaveren, Modesto
    • Sheep Production – Madison Woods, Gustine
    • Specialty Crop Production – Eric Quezda Ridge, Nipomo
  • Agriscience Fair Winners
    • Four winners tied the most in any one year for California.
    • Environmental Sciences Division 4 – Isabella Albiani & Isabelle Alves, Elk Grove
    • Food Products & Processing Division 3 – Mia Gillum, Hanford
    • Food Products & Processing Division 5 – Liesl Wolf, St. Helena
    • Power, Struct. & Tech. Systems Division 4 – Sophia Albiani & Eden Hamming, Elk Grove
  • Other Awards
    • 409 American FFA Degree recipients and 35 Chapters honored through the National Chapter Program.

Sectional Leadership Nights hosted by the State FFA Officers in cooperation with the Regional FFA Officers are currently happening throughout the state. To date over 1,000 students have taken part in these leadership development events.

Stay tuned as more information will be forthcoming in the near future regarding leadership development events, state leadership conference updates and any calendar adjustments.

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

Sacramento Scene, November 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

UC Davis Threatens to Suspend the Credentialing Teacher Program

In October, the UC Davis School of Education announced that it would pursue the suspension of the fifth-year masters and credentialing program for all subject areas. Davis’s School of Education made the following announcement prior to putting the decision to a faculty vote: “Among our priorities will be better integrating our innovative research into our curriculum, expanding and deepening the ways we prepare our graduates to address institutional racism, and increasing the use of digital tools for teaching and learning.”

In the education program at Davis, professors were told to prepare for furloughs with the possibility of reapplying for their jobs at an undisclosed date. This was planned despite California facing a significant teacher shortage and the Davis program enrollment remaining stable over the last five years.

The protest to the proclamation was immediate and widespread. Faculty, alumni, and the education community all rallied in opposition. An alumni-lead petition, numerous letters, e-mails and phone calls caused a reversal of the decision. 

Less than a week after the announcement, Lauren Lindstrom, Dean of Education, released a statement proclaiming that while she is “still convinced that a major redesign is necessary, we have listened to faculty, staff and community input and have decided to slow down our process.” The faculty vote was suspended, and admissions to the program remain open for the 2021 academic year (Flaherty, 2020). 

Thank you to everyone who answered the call and voiced concerns to UC Davis about this issue. It was your swift and decisive response that reversed the decision to suspend the program. The hope is that redesigning or updating the curriculum can be accomplished without disrupting teacher candidates’ pipeline into this noble profession. 

Californians Reject Proposition 16

On election day, California voters rejected Proposition 16 that would have restored affirmative action in government agencies and public universities. The vote was 56.1% to 43.9%, defeating the proposition. The defeat comes despite a significant campaign to pass the proposal with over $20 million in contributions. In comparison, contributions to defeat Proposition 16 garnered only $1.5 million. 

Proposition 15, Too Close to Call 

The morning after the election, with 82% of the precincts reporting, the vote was 51.7 % in opposition and 48.3% in support of Proposition 15. If passed, the proposition would amend the California State Constitution to require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on current market value. The proposition would institute a split roll tax assessing taxes on residential properties based on the purchase price and commercial properties at market value. Revenues from the tax increase would be allocated to schools, community colleges and county and local governments.  

National FFA Convention

A week removed from the National FFA Convention, congratulations are in order for numerous FFA members, ag teachers and programs across California. The work put in by State Staff, teachers, students and volunteers are greatly appreciated and reflects favorably on California Ag Education. California had a robust year matching or breaking previous records in Agriscience and Proficiency competitions. California had four National Agriscience research winners, tying the record set in 2008 for the most category wins. Additionally, California posted nine National Proficiency winners, breaking the record set in 2007 of seven. California once again has a National FFA Officer, now with a run of three over the last four years. Congratulations again to all the students and coaches that didn’t let the pandemic keep them from participating and competing.

Sacramento Scene

As election results wrap up across the state and the focus returns to the Sacramento capital business, several things become clear. First, the Democrats will maintain a supermajority in the Assembly, Senate and hold the Governor’s office. Secondly, lean economic times are on the horizon. With large portions of the California economy still dealing with the impact of the pandemic and related restrictions, tax revenue will be down, and funding needs will be up. The challenge in the next several budget cycles will be to maintain Career Technical Education and Ag Education funding at current levels. It is anticipated that the January Budget will be bleak. 

Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.mpatton@calagteachers.org209 744-1605

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