Superior Region News

By Cali Griffin, Loyalton High School

Howdy everyone from the Superior Region! Programs are in full swing, running up and down the state, busy as ever, along with several programs that have been rebuilding their programs.

South Lindhurst High School will be participating as a test site for a Water Diversion unit that was created through the Yuba Water Agency. They are very excited to be working with several other schools to work through this curriculum and help to develop it more. It is focused on drought in California as well as getting to know our local watershed (Bullards Bar). The kids will be learning through engineering practices and developing solutions for the current dam to be a better source of flood control. At the end of the unit, the kids will also get to go to Bullards Bar and explore and learn about the dam and the watershed through a hands-on field trip. 

Hannah Wrenn was hired in August to restart the Quincy High School FFA program. Since starting the program she has had taught several periods of junior high students who are eager for their freshman year so they can be a part of the FFA. She also has an officer team full of go-getters who have really put in the time to get their chapter started. The high school classes are: Natural Resources, Greenhouse, and Agriscience. The Quincy High School students have been eager to get out and compete, and they show an eagerness to experience new things after the last few years of being affected by the pandemic. Prior to being hired at Quincy High School, Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico, and then taught at Red Bluff High School for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Alex Whitney was welcomed to Lassen High school in the fall of 2020. Originally from Fall River and TCU, Alex is teaching sustainable agricultural biology, floral design, and greenhouse. Alex coaches Novice Parliamentary Procedure, Creed, Job Interview, Floral, and Opening and Closing. Alex has been an eager and exciting addition to the program. 

In retirement, Holly Egan has been working with Chico State to mentor student teachers in the credential program. You have probably seen her the last two years on various high school campuses helping to ensure our new teachers are set up for success. Holly coached the state-winning vegetable crop team last year and is coaching Susanville FFA’s Floriculture team this year. Next year, she will be completely retired!

The Superior Region CATA had two Teachers of Excellence! Way to go Superior Region. Caroline (Cali) Griffin from Loyalton High School and Stacey McWilliams Dutra from Yuba City High School. Way to go, gals! The Teacher of Excellence Award is a prestigious award that is given to someone who has been teaching for over ten years, has a strong involvement in professional activities, has helped multiple students, and who has improved their program with innovative instructional techniques. 


Through iCEV, the following certifications are available to your students this spring: 

  • AMSA Culinary Meat Selection & Cookery
  • AMSA Food Safety & Science
  • AMSA Meat Evaluation
  • BASF Plant Science
  • Benz School of Floral Design Principles of Floral Design
  • Center for Financial Responsibility Personal Financial Literacy
  • Ducks Unlimited Ecology Conservation & Management
  • EETC Principles of Small Engine Technology
  • Elanco Fundamentals of Animal Science
  • Elanco Veterinary Medical Applications
  • Express Employment Professionals Career Preparedness
  • HBAA Residential Construction Skills
  • National Horse Judging Team Coaches Association Equine Management & Evaluation
  • NCLCA Principles of Livestock Selection & Evaluation
  • Southwest Airlines Professional Communications.

AgAlign Tier 1 Certifications will be utilized by many of our Superior Region programs including ag mechanics, biology, chemistry, and floriculture. The platform through AET will be a first and we look forward to having our students get closer to being certified and going into the work world.


Southern Region Update

By: Maggie Maratsos, Heritage High School

We are happy to report that so much has happened down in the Southern Region in the past few months that, despite everything going on in the world now, there is much to be thankful for! We are making adjustments, staying flexible, and preparing for some online LDE and CDE competitions. Our Zoom Southern Region meeting went off with minimal technical issues, and was full of lots of news, BINGO, funny videos, professional fellowship and camaraderie. Here’s just a few of the things Southern Region has to be thankful for:

  • Serrano had a bountiful harvest of a whopping seven pomegranates, their program received new tables and chairs for their Ag. Mechanics shop and they have a brand-new website.
  • El Centro gave back during the National Day of Service, fostered connections with a mentoring program called “Bigs and Littles” and hosted a virtual escape room for the entire Imperial Section.
  • Don Lugo has added a floriculture program to their department, has started a new SAE rabbit project, and has expanded their sheep breeding program.
  • Buena Park has hosted virtual leadership activities for a full week every month since school started, such as a Leadership Chat, an AET Workshop, a Life and Safety Workshop and community service opportunities.
  • Mission Viejo is keeping up with their SAE projects; they have hydroponics systems, participated in the virtual Orange County Fair, are running a barn cat training program and are maintaining steer projects and laying hen projects.
  • La Habra students were able to take a virtual field trip, over several Zoom sessions, to the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and learn all about research methodology and conservation methods.
  • Hemet’s farm stand is still up and running, selling jams, eggs and produce to the public every Sunday.
  • Rubidoux has been focusing on virtual FFA activities and maintaining member participation, giving out prizes for members at the online activities.
  • Elsinore has constructed two new greenhouses, one just for hydroponics. They also have a brand-new orchard with over 40 fruit and nut trees. 
  • San Jacinto has had two community farm days, during which times they planted seeds and created a chicken coop. They are staying busy with virtual FFA meetings, too!
  • Heritage recently had an online plant and pumpkin sale and were able to raise over $1,000 for the department! The department was pleased that its first foray into large-scale pumpkin production was a success!
  • Perris was able to give out yard signs and sashes to all of its program-completers at the end of last school year. They were also able to give out over $4,000 in scholarships, with the help of their community. Students were able to participate in the virtual SoCal Fair, as well!
  • Norco is keeping up with online learning and making it work at their department. Despite the challenges of remote learning, they are doing a great job staying connected with their students!
  • Poway has been working with local Boy Scouts to restore and revitalize their school farm, and has hosted an Adopt-A-Family Drive, where students donated canned goods and new materials to families in need. Students also made floral arrangements for a district event honoring employees and volunteers of the year, as well as sponsors. They also participated in the virtual San Diego and Ramona fairs. They were able to get new scales for their livestock area!

While we can’t  be together in person, the can-do spirit of the Southern Region is still holding strong! This reporter hopes that, wherever you are, you took the time during this Thanksgiving Break to recharge and gear up for the last few weeks of the semester so you can finish strong, just like the fabulous chapters in the Southern Region. Take care of yourselves and each other, have a great holiday season, and here’s to a (better) new year!

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

Southern Region News

By: Maggie Maratsos, Heritage HS

Hello from the sunny Southern Region! As summer winds down, many of us, for the first time in many years, have just experienced a surreal summer completely devoid of student animal projects, fairs, or in some cases, personal travel to get away from it all before school starts again. Like so many other schools across the country, the Southern Region is largely headed back to school online; with that in mind, like many members of our CATA family, we’ve had to adapt quickly to the dramatic changes in the education world. Through efforts from multiple parties (and many, many Zoom meetings), our region has compiled databases of online resources for teachers to use (link 1 here, link 2 here). It’s been truly inspiring to watch so many Ag teachers tackle this new challenge head-on, despite worries, stress, and doubts.

With everything else in our world going virtual this year, the Southern Region is also going virtual this fall for our regional meeting and in-service tours. The regional officer team is excited to plan this out and for the opportunities this may provide to all Southern Region teachers.

In spite of everything being turned upside down this year, Southern Region programs and teachers have been able to push through the turmoil and find success.  Here are some of the highlights:

Student Successes

  • Numerous high individuals in state contests
  • Lakeside Middle School sweeped every category of the Division I and Division II state Agriscience Fair
  • El Capitan High School won 5th in the state Floriculture contest
  • El Capitan High School won the state title in the AET Farm Records contest
  • Mountain Empire High School won 5th in the AET Farm Records contest
  • Don Lugo High School placed 4th in the Light Horse Judging contest
  • Perris High School won the state title in Vegetable Crop Judging
  • Perris High School placed 2nd in the state Nursery/Landscape contest
  • Heritage High School placed 3rd in the state Nursery/Landscape contest
  • Sunny Hills High School placed 2nd in the state Fruit Tree Judging contest

Professional Accolades

  • Two Teachers of Excellence, Jessica Fernandes and Marc Reyburn
  • One Hall of Fame Inductee, Gary Lesh
  • One Golden Owl nominee (and retiree!) Mike Campbell

The Future of Agriculture

We have eleven individuals that are new to the profession joining our ranks this year; we wish them well on their new adventures, and we can’t wait to start collaborating with them as colleagues!

  • Jerryca Haller, Imperial
  • Carson Conkright, Holtville
  • Audrey Lent, Poway
  • Donna Silva, San Marcos
  • Lisa Antonelli Clunnis, Littlerock
  • Mari Cox, Rosamond
  • Caylin Daviscourt, Norco
  • Justin Evans, Perris-Citrus Hill
  • Barbara Tuyen, Don Lugo
  • Nina Feretti, La Habra
  • Ryan Mudry, Orange

In closing, in these times of stress and confusion, it’s important to remember a few things: 1.) Setting the goal to become a master of online learning overnight is an impossible standard to live up to, 2.) Being kind and forgiving to yourself for not knowing all the answers during this time will save you (some) sanity, and 3.) Give yourself some time to just reflect on the big, key ideas that you need to teach in your classes. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too, as online learning begins. Our Ag Ed family is strong and resourceful–remember to reach out for tips, tricks, advice, or ideas if you need to!

Supervised Agriculture Experience – Is it worth the time and energy?

By: Shay Williams-Hopper, California Department of Education, San Joaquin Region Supervisor

The National Ag Council is currently pushing the “SAE for all” concept. As I pondered “SAE for all,” my original thought was, “I did this.” But, as I sat back and reflected on my career in the classroom, I can honestly say I did not value Supervised Agriculture Experience Projects for all. I valued it for those students who chose livestock projects, or who had ready-made projects at home because of family interests or businesses. Yes, I graded SAE projects as a part of my student’s grades. Yes, I taught about SAE’s and what they could be. Yes, I required every student to write a reflection on their project each year. What I did not do successfully however, was make the connection for my students as to why SAE projects are valuable. 

Supervised Agriculture Experience projects are the ultimate tool for helping students be college and career ready. No other school assignment requires students to invest as much time and energy into financial literacy, global agriculture awareness, career research, and industry connections, all while being encouraged and mentored by teachers, parents, industry professionals, and peers. 

SAE projects need to be promoted from day one in our programs, just like FFA and classroom instruction. The reality is some of our students are not leadership or classroom driven. They are motivated by getting their hands dirty, building connections and learning through hands-on experience. From the beginning, students need to be given the opportunity to experience all that agriculture has to offer. Start by making the time to discuss what options each student has available to them. Survey their resources (transportation, activities, support at home, interests, etc.) and guide them to have a vested interest in an area of agriculture where they can utilize and hone their skills.  

The added bonus to preparing students for college and career readiness through SAE projects is the opportunity to expose our students to financial literacy. We need to be using AET to teach our students how to budget, manage profit and loss, write business agreements and document their progress.  

I encourage you to spend some time exploring options for foundational and immersion SAE projects that can be completed within your school or program. Foundational SAE allows for students to explore their interests while exposing them to the agricultural world and careers surrounding them. They allow students to process what type of immersion SAE they will want to take on in the future, without jumping in blindly. Additional help, lessons, and resources can be found on the National Council for Agricultural Education website here.

These last few months I have had the opportunity to visit programs all over the central valley, and have viewed some amazing SAE implementation for students. Madera South High School has set up a rabbit and cavy barn to house small animal projects for students who otherwise would not be able to show an animal species at the fair. At the Tulare High School Farm, students build and deliver agricultural education curriculum for eight middle school feeder programs in their district. Strathmore High School has created an onsite farmers market where they grow, market and sell items such as sweet corn, pumpkins, and lettuce which are produced on school grounds by students in the program. Students at Madera-Liberty High School create floral arrangements for local service clubs, weddings, and school events, which they then sell. Clovis East High School maintains a fully operational orchard where students assist with production management and then sell the produce at the local farmers market.  Some students have even taken the project a step further by processing school farmed almonds with a candy coating and selling them as a value added product.  

What SAE’s can your students explore with a little guidance from you? The possibilities are endless.  

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