Capital Press | FFA http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Mon, 21 Apr 2014 03:27:16 -0400 en http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | FFA http://www.capitalpress.com California FFA proficiency award winners http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140416/california-ffa-proficiency-award-winners http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140416/california-ffa-proficiency-award-winners#Comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:45:46 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419923 FFA proficiency awards were presented to the following students at the 2014 California FFA Leadership Conference:

Dominique Germann, Ceres; Agriculture Communications

Audrey Lent, Carpinteria; Agriculture Education

Wyatt Wolfe, Kerman, Agriculture Mechanics-Design/Fabrication

Louis Linesey, Templeton; Agricultural Mechanics Maintenance Entrepreneurship

Nicholas Hasch, Templeton; Agricultural Mechanics Maintenance Placement

Emily Thompson, Tracy, Agricultural Processing

Anna Gomes, Ferndale, Agricultural Sales Entrepreneurship

Virat Kang, Madera; Agricultural Sales Placement

Griffith Peterson, Bear River, Agricultural Services

Abby Carlson, Elk Grove; Agriscience Research

Isabella Marinia, Elk Grove; Agriscience Research Plant Systems

Madison Albiani, Elk Grove; Agriscience Research Integrated System

Macy Perry, Clovis; Beef Production Entrepreneurship

Emma Briggs, Petaluma; Beef Production Placement

Tony Lopes, Gustine; Dairy Production Entrepreneurship

John Paul Pimentel, Hanford; Dairy Production Placement

Andrea Thomas, Colusa; Diversified Agriculture Production

Joshua Allen, Firebaugh; Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship

Garrison Fernandes, Tulare; Diversified Crop Production Placement

Christopher Lopez, Firebaugh; Diversified Horticulture Entrepreneurship

Josh Ellithorpe, Fallbrook; Diversified Horticulture Placement

Beaujena DeSilva, Hanford; Diversified Livestock Entrepreneurship

Tyson Brem, Strathmore; Diversified Livestock Placement

Jilliam Drake, Fallbrook; Emerging Agriculture Technology

Eric Wallace, Lake Isabella/Kern Valley; Environmental Science

Kassidi Hofman, Ripon, Equine Science Entrepreneurship

Gabby Dodson, El Capitan; Equine Science Placement

Jason Allen, Firebaugh; Fiber/Oil Crops

Josie Wheeler, St. Helena; Forage Production

Travis Clark, Tulare; Forest Management/Products

Taylor Lindquist, Templeton; Goat Production

Natalie Massa, Willows; Grain Production Entrepreneurship

Drew Mullaney, East Nicholas; Grain Production Placement

Andrew Francis, Bakersfield North; Home/Community Development

Lionel Cruz, Carpenteria; Landscape Management

Jacob Van Klaveren, Gregori; Nursery Operations

Sapphire Martinez, Mountain Empire; Outdoor Recreation

Evan Hudelson, Hughson; Pomology Production

Danny Moretti, Tomales; Poultry Production

Kayla Hildebrand, Templeton; Sheep Production

Molly Lacey, Lone Pine; Small Animal Production and Care

Hayden Shaad, Gridley; Specialty Animal Production

Anna Gomes, Ferndale; Specialty Crop Production

Austin Rogers, El Capitan; Swine Production Entrepreneurship

Sean Pimentel, Fresno Central West; Swine Production Placement

Edgar Ayala, Lompoc; Turf Grass Management

Kassidy Sears, Bakersfield North; Vegetable Production Entrepreneurship

Elmer Barrueta, Santa Maria; Vegetable Production Placement

Ciera McClure, Lodi; Veterinary Medicine

Carina Duran, Wasco; Viticulture Production

Marcos Rojas, Firebaugh; Wildlife Management

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Ross: FFA members are the future of ag http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140416/ross-ffa-members-are-the-future-of-ag http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140416/ross-ffa-members-are-the-future-of-ag#Comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:54:19 -0400 CECILIA PARSONS http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419931 FRESNO, Calif. — Calling the 5,000 assembled FFA members “the most important audience I speak to on an annual basis,” California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross told the students that they represent the promise and the possibilities for California agriculture.

Ross addressed FFA members during the Monday general session of the 86th annual State FFA Leadership Conference in Fresno. She encouraged them to be the next problem solvers for California agriculture and tackle water use and renewable energy issues.

“No one is better equipped to help with these challenges,” Ross said. She acknowledged the lack of trust in government and asked the students to be engaged, involved and informed in keeping society open and free.

Noting recent victories for FFA, Ross said students should recognize how effective they were in telling their story in an effort to keep agriculture education funding in the state budget. Though return of funding is not ensured, state budget committee members were unanimous in voting to retain the incentive grant school districts receive for agriculture education. The outcome won’t be known until next month during the May “revise” of the budget. The long awaited Ag Plates for California will also be coming soon and provide revenue for FFA chapters.

“You are the best equipped young people I know,” Ross told the agriculture students. “We need you and your belief in the future.”

On the final day of the conference, FFA members elected their state officers for 2014-15. Tulare Western senior Dipak Kumar was elected president, Sierra Bryant of Templeton was elected secretary, Haley Warner of Altaville-Bret Harte was elected vice president, Ellen Van Noy of Grass Valley Nevada Union was elected reporter and Luis Sanchez of Gonzales was elected sentinel.

Conference delegates also voted on ballot proposals. One of the most controversial — changing the women’s FFA uniform to include dark hosiery to conform with the national uniform — was shot down for at least the second time. Delegates did pass a proposal to increase the number of agriculture teachers on the State FFA board from 6 to 12 and passed a proposal to allow the state FFA advisor to determine the state FFA degree verification process.

Students also discussed recruitment and marketing FFA to middle school students and planned outreach events for state and local government leaders.

The conference included a career fair for students, giving them the chance to speak with representatives of state universities and community colleges. Schools on hand for the fair included Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Colorado State in addition to California universities.

The most inspiring parts of the conference are the farewell speeches from the outgoing state officers. Outgoing state secretary Gabrielle Franke, from Galt, asked FFA members to “open the door” for incoming members and make them a part of the FFA family.

Also completing their terms in office were State President Riley Nilsen from Nipomo, Vice President Valerie Canas from Santa Maria; State Treasurer Gage Willey from Nicolaus, State Reporter Sheldon Overton from McArthur and State Sentinel Hunter Berry from San Jacinto.

Star awards were presented to FFA members with Supervised Agriculture Experience projects that were exceptional. Named State Star Farmer was Joshua Allen of Firebaugh. Star in Ag Placement was Collin Fernandes of Tulare. Star in Agribusiness was Loren Mumby of Firebaugh. Star Reporter was Kaela Cooper of Templeton.

Nearly $30,000 in scholarships were awarded to FFA members during the conference.

Nicole Crouch of Galt and Cierra McClure of Lodi were awarded $1,000 scholarships from Actagro. The Almond Board of California awarded $1,000 scholarships to Brady Colburn, Rebecca Metz, Jesus Rios, Noah Sa, Scot Swan and Madison Zittel.

The Jerry L. Biggs Memorial Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Sierra Bryant. Betty Bushong Memorial Scholarships of $1,000 were awarded to Anna Gomes and Travis Vazquez. Jerry T. Davis Honorary Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Katie Fernandes. The $750 Paul Freitas Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Chase Steele. Hartford Insurance Scholarships were awarded to Trey Johnston, Tony Lopes and Cassidy Steenbock.

Mabel Jacks Memorial Scholarships went to Francesca Arnaudo, Andrew Francis and Haylee Saldivar. Byron J. McMahon Memorial Scholarship went to Christopher Sharp. The Dorothy McMillen Memorial Scholarship went to Caitlin Lopes. Vanessa Soto was awarded the Dean McNeilly Scholarship. Jaimie Lynne Pettey Memorial Scholarships went to Mackenzie Hurley, Briane LeBeau and Caitlin Stevenson.

Zenith Insurance Co. sponsored two $3,000 scholarships and two $2,000 scholarships. They were awarded to Dipak Kumar, Kelsey O’Donoghue, Mathew Ruby and Ashley Therien.

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New officers take the reins of Idaho FFA http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/new-officers-take-the-reins-of-idaho-ffa http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/new-officers-take-the-reins-of-idaho-ffa#Comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:47:39 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419937 TWIN FALLS, Idaho – All smiles and teeming with adrenaline, Idaho FFA’s new state officers were ready to come up for air on Saturday after a relentless schedule during the 2014 State Leadership Conference in Twin Falls last week.

Their election as state officers hadn’t quite set in on Saturday, they said, but their emotions ranged from excitement, shock and awe to honored, blessed and overwhelmed.

The year ahead will be one of new experiences, getting to know and serving FFA members across the state, they said..

Garrett Brogan, 18, of Bear Lake, district president and now state sentinel, said he’s looking forward to getting to know members outside his district and representing Idaho at the national convention and competitions in other states.

Emily Hicks, 18, of Middleton, district and now state FFA reporter, said she is eager to travel, scouring the state of Idaho and neighboring states and building relationships with FFA members.

Sharing the FFA passion and opportunities with other members and potential members has already been a big part of her FFA experience and she expects that to reach new levels, she said.

Being state officers will allow the graduating seniors to share their passion for FFA, said Justin Nesbitt,18, of Meridian, district and now state treasurer.

“It’s our chance to make our mark and promote agriculture and FFA and help people see the benefits of agriculture,” he said.

Officers will represent the youth voice of agriculture and try to make a positive difference in the lives of FFA members, helping them through the tough spots and sharing the good experiences, said Clancy Johnston, 17 of New Plymouth, district vice president and state secretary.

One big thing the officers will face is implementing the Ag Education Initiative passed this year by the Idaho Legislature. That will mean promoting it and implementing new programs at the chapter level, said Amanda Hale, 18, of Rigby, district president and state vice president.

The legislation created quality standards, annual incentive grants based on those standards, start-up grants for ag education programs, and increased “added cost” funding for ag education classes.

“We need to show we are worth it and make sure those programs are used,” said Mitch Royer, 18, of Cambridge, district and new state president.

With all those goals ahead, the new officers met with outgoing officers for a little advice.

The outgoing officers stressed the importance of serving members and how members will serve officers, inspiring them and helping them to grow, Johnston and Hale said.

They also said every group of officers is different and every year is different, and the new officers will find their own way to accomplish FFA’s goals, said Royer and Hicks.

“We’ll write our own chapter together,” Hicks said.

Chapter? It’ll be a whole book, Royer said.

“I want to grow as a team through this year, get to know these guys better and become a perfect unit by the end of the year. And I want to have fun,” Royer said.

On Saturday, however, the new officers just wanted to eat, sleep and catch their breath.

They said they hadn’t decided yet if they’ll take a year off of school for their term as state officers, but all plan to pursue higher education. Royer, Hale, Hicks, and Brogan plan to attend the University of Idaho, and Johnston plans to attend Boise State University.

Royer plans to major in food science. Hale plans to major in ag economics. Johnston plans to pursue non-profit management. Hicks plans to major in environmental horticulture, and Brogan plans to pursue equine veterinary science.

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Idaho FFA taps Star members http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/idaho-ffa-taps-star-members http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/idaho-ffa-taps-star-members#Comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:36:20 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419940 TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Years of hard work and commitment paid of for four Idaho FFA members who were chosen for the organization’s highest honor — the state Star award — during the 2014 FFA State Leadership Conference April 11 at the College of Southern Idaho.

Kelsie Ward of Blackfoot claimed the honor of Star Farmer, Shane Spitz of Ashton grabbed the Star in Agricultural Placement, Molly Roberts of Midvale lassoed the Star in Agribusiness, and Jordan Cook of Shelly captured the Star for Agriscience.

District finalists in each of the categories from Idaho’s nine FFA districts compete to be top in the state. Being chosen as a Star is quite an honor, entails a lot of work, and represents commitment and achievement, the Stars’ advisers said.

Stars are chosen among students who earn their state FFA degree, earn a certain amount of money and complete a certain amount of community service, said Charles Ledington, ag adviser at Midvale High School.

Potential Stars participate in a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) for three or four years. SAEs are a hands-on work experience and a career opportunity to test students’ compatibility with a particular segment of agribusiness they choose, involving innumerable hours and extensive recordkeeping.

Their SAE program is a real-life experience they can build on for their future, and many projects turn into businesses, even large corporations, Ledington said.

Ward, 17, a senior at Snake River High School, grew barley and hay and raised registered and commercial livestock for her SAE project. The barley and hay were under contract, and she raised the commercial cows to work on embryo transplants along with her registered breed.

She’s a fifth-generation producer and works on the family farm in exchange for the use of the farm’s equipment. She plans pursue a degree in crop science or animal science, starting her college career at either College of Southern Idaho or BYU-Idaho, and intends to continue in the business after college.

"Agriculture is my life. I live it, breathe it and eat it. I can’t see myself doing something else," she said.

Her ag adviser, J.B. Hoge, said the Star Farmer is a great honor. It’s the highest award and takes a lot of commitment and a great project to achieve, he said.

Spitz, 18, is a senior at North Fremont High School who began working on a local farm in eighth grade. A couple of years later, he went to work for a different farm during the growing season and a motor sports store in the off-season.

He started out doing menial labor, but his responsibilities have grown with his knowledge and development. Now he’s trusted to plant, cultivate, maintain equipment and the center pivot, and harvest, said ag adviser Tom Jacobson.

The star award recognizes Spitz’s work ethic, desire to improve, quality hours and quality SAE project, said ag adviser Rob Bingham.

Spitz said he’s enlisted for a stint in the Marines but then plans to attend college and open his own custom-farming business.

Roberts, 17, is a junior at Midvale High School and partners with her father in the Roberts’ Mighty Mini-Mules of Midvale, a 12- and 16-hitch miniature mule team that performs at wild west shows, rodeos, fairs and parades.

She drives the two hind mules and her father drives the two lead mules. She’s been showing mules since she was 8 years old, with a few prestigious titles under her belt, and also trains mules and horses.

Not only did Roberts win a Star award, her SAE project was the top entrepreneurial project of the state degrees this year, ag adviser Ledbetter said.

Roberts said her work with equines takes a lot of time and effort, from feeding and training the animals to booking shows, doing the books and keeping the business in the spotlight with social media.

Roberts said she is really into the equine industry and is trying to get her name out as a trainer and an equine business person.

She intends to pursue a veterinary degree, starting her college career at College of Southern Idaho and moving on to the University of Idaho, she said.

Cook, 18, is a senior at Shelley High School who had watched other FFA members get star awards in the past and asked his ag advisers to help him grab one of his own.

He combined his SAE and senior projects to focus on helping people allergic to gluten or with celiac disease find an alternative to wheat flour. He took four varieties of oats, growing two from experimental seed, grinding them into flour and using it to make chocolate cakes.

He was looking for an affordable gluten-free flour that best compared to wheat flour. He performed taste testing with the cooperation of middle school, home economics students and found a commercially-grown oat variety performed the best, taking the top two rankings.

He then presented his findings to the public at a high school parent/teacher conference.

"Hopefully my results help somebody," he said.

The goal was to come up with an alternative to wheat flour, said ag adviser Vince Wray. Oat flour at health food stores is very expensive and doesn’t work well for baking.

Cook did a good job with the project, it was a great experience and he learned a lot. And the multi-year project will continue with another student working on the next phase, focusing on hull-less barley, next year, he said.

Cook will soon be heading off for a mission with the Church of Latter Day Saints and plans to pursue an engineering degree with an emphasis on welding, starting at University of Utah-Eastern and finishing at Weber State University

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Idaho FFA officers reflect on their tenure http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140408/idaho-ffa-officers-reflect-on-their-tenure http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140408/idaho-ffa-officers-reflect-on-their-tenure#Comments Tue, 8 Apr 2014 15:45:44 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140409901 Enthusiastic youth sporting their blue FFA jackets are descending this week on Twin Falls en masse for the 2014 State Leadership Conference.

Reflecting on their tenure, outgoing state officers said they spent the last year building their own skills and abilities and those of chapter members across Idaho.

It was like a “fast-paced skill ride,” said FFA President Brett Wilder, a freshman majoring in ag and natural resources education at the University of Idaho.

The year was filled with a lot of different emotions for FFA Secretary Alyssa Stastny, a sophomore majoring in horticulture at BYU-Idaho.

It “was a great opportunity for each of us to grow as individuals. We were able to see what our strengths were and learn more about ourselves … and the value of service,” she said.

The officers were put in a lot of stressful situations, but it was “great,” she said.

“There’s no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone,” she said.

“It has been an unforgettable experience, from seeing members across the state grow and develop to the opportunities to gain more skills and broaden your knowledge of agriculture,” said Sentinel Kyle Nesbitt, a sophomore in ag education at the University of Idaho.

The year of training, studying, traveling, and networking allowed the officers to use their skills to grow the skills of FFA members and make an impact, said Treasurer McKenzie Forsberg, a freshman in bioveterinary and dairy science at Utah State University.

It also allowed the officers to see more of what’s going on in Idaho’s ag industry and gain a better understanding in order to advocate for that industry, she said.

The year was one of memories and service, and the experiences were important to help officers better serve the members, said Reporter Erin Shenk, a freshman at the University of Idaho pursuing a degree in ag education.

The experience was exciting and eventful with a lot of curve balls, but even those were a “blast,” said Vice President Daniel Heikkila, a sophomore majoring in Ag Education and Environmental Resources at the University of Idaho.

The experience taught him that team members have to continue to work on communication to be effective, he said.

The goal of officers is to bring a level of passion and share the experiences students can look forward to as FFA members, Wilder said.

The opportunities offered by FFA abound, the officers said.

It gives students a chance to learn more and advocate for agriculture and to gain skills they need to be successful in college and any career of their choice, Forsberg said.

FFA is a unique program that provides leadership skills people can apply to real life to help them grow and develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in college and beyond “when the bank of mom and dad runs out,” Shenk said.

It provides opportunities not offered anywhere else. It develops every person regardless of where they came from or where they want to go,” Wilder said.

In addition to leadership skills, it offers hands-on training for practical application. For example, his training earned him welding, veterinary technology and parliamentarian certifications, he said.

FFA offers supervised ag experience and teaches members things they can take with them the rest of their lives, Nesbitt said.

There are 4,000 members in Idaho and more than a half million nationwide, and they each have their own experience through the opportunities offered, he said.

“More than anything else, FFA truly gives them (members) a place to find themselves and how they are going to react in the world and find success,” Heikkila said.

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Canby FFA receives top Ag Fest award http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140331/canby-ffa-receives-top-ag-fest-award http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140331/canby-ffa-receives-top-ag-fest-award#Comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 14:28:47 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140339975 Oregon Ag Fest has announced the winners of the third annual Oregon Ag Fest Agricultural Education Award.

Canby FFA is the recipient of the first place award for its ag literacy program, receiving $1,000, according to an Ag Fest press release. The educational outreach consists of community container gardens, a traveling classroom filled with hands-on activities, along with specific outreach programs at local elementary schools and Deer Creek Ranch.

In total, Canby FFA reaches nearly 7,500 people annually on the importance of Oregon agriculture.

Receiving the second-place $600 award was the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation for its Learning Gardens Program, which provided over 1,100 K-12 students, at nine schools, hands-on gardening experience last year. The program features gardens, an aquaponics greenhouse and chickens and bunnies, all centered around agricultural education.

Receiving the third-place $400 award was the Henley FFA Chapter for its variety of outreach efforts within the urban areas of the Klamath Basin, including teaching Ag in the Classroom lessons, a YMCA Pumpkin Festival and Farm Field Days.

The purpose of the Ag Fest Agricultural Education Award is to reward student organizations, non-profit organizations or classrooms that promote and educate Oregonians about agriculture and extend the Oregon Ag Fest mission beyond its annual, two-day, interactive event.

“We were blown-away by the applications we received and are proud to support the agricultural education outreach efforts happening around the state,” Sherry Kudna, Oregon Ag Fest’s chair, said in the press release. “Oregon Ag Fest is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of agriculture, and we see this award as a way to encourage and support organizations that have programs and activities aimed to accomplish the same thing.”

The Agricultural Education Awards ceremony will take place at noon on Sunday, April 27, on the main stage in the Americraft Center at the Oregon State Fairgrounds during the 26th Annual Oregon Ag Fest. Representatives from all three organizations will be present to accept their awards.

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New FFA officers look forward to a big year http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140325/new-ffa-officers-look-forward-to-a-big-year http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140325/new-ffa-officers-look-forward-to-a-big-year#Comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 11:48:52 -0400 Hannah Brause http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140329925 BEND, Ore. — Newly elected state FFA president Ian Oppenlander of Madras says he is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the association at the highest level.

“It feels unreal, we have already gotten to work, there is no messing around,” he said after the election results were announced Monday. “We are looking forward to representing Oregon FFA this next year. We are ecstatic to be working with each other, the foundation and chapter members all over Oregon.

“Our team will work together to set goals to have an impactful year on members so that they can change their communities,” he said.

Also elected were:

• Vice president: Brecklin Milton of Ontario.

• Secretary: Kylee Fisher of Burns.

• Treasurer: Mitchell Adams of Culver.

• Reporter: Collin Matthias of Canby.

• Sentinel: Meghan Stadeli of Silverton.

Bend Chapter President Lindsey McPeake said the convention brought in over $1 million to the local economy over four days.

“Seeing the enthusiasm of other students from around the state while at convention and during the sessions makes me proud to know that we had a part in making convention special and something that other members will always remember,” she said. “Our chapter had tremendous support from our alumni, administrators and community.”

The chapter raised over $35,000 to cover the costs of hosting the convention.

Bend FFA Advisor Traci Dulany said 37 businesses and colleges took part in this year’s convention career show.

This year’s convention was streamed live online, allowing friends and family not able to attend the opportunity to watch it. In addition to the 2,911 members and guests in attendance at the convention over 900 people logged on to watch each session.

“In 1993 as a national officer I was at a leadership training event and was challenged to put together a 25 item bucket list,” Oregon FFA Foundation Executive Director Kevin White said. “Number 23 on my list was to raise $1 million for FFA. Between October 2011 and February 2014 — a little over two years — collectively all pledges and contributions totaled over $1 million.”

The state association is no longer funded through the Department of Education at the state level, he said. “A vision of the foundation is that every student enrolled in agricultural education will be an FFA Member by 2020. We also hope to eventually have an educational and leadership center to call our own.”

The 2015 state convention will be in Silverton.

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California lawmakers, students rally for ag ed funding http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140325/california-lawmakers-students-rally-for-ag-ed-funding http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140325/california-lawmakers-students-rally-for-ag-ed-funding#Comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:34:37 -0400 Tim Hearden http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140329932 SACRAMENTO — A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is taking it upon themselves to make sure money for FFA leadership training and other agriculture education programs is retained in the state budget.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, has amassed 32 cosponsors to his bill that would ensure funding for the Agriculture Education Incentive Grant program, which Gov. Jerry Brown cut in his January budget proposal.

The California Agricultural Teachers Association says that for 31 years, the grant has provided matching money for school districts that agree to undertake such projects as classroom instruction, supervised ag experience projects and FFA leadership training.

The proposed cut eliminates $4 million distributed to about 300 FFA programs statewide, California Farm Bureau Federation second vice president Jamie Johansson has said.

“With every legislator I’ve talked to, I’ve stressed how important this is to the entire state of California,” Salas told the Capital Press. “This program helps support our $43 billion ag economy. These skills are skills kids can learn for the real world.”

Salas led a rally for the grant program with hundreds of FFA members at the state Capitol as part of Ag Day on March 19, and he expects some students to return April 1 when the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education considers funding for the program in 2014-2015.

Among his cosponsors of Assembly Bill 2033 is Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who worked on the original legislation in 1983 with then-Sen. Rose Ann Vuich, the upper chamber’s first female member who died in 2001. Nielsen was a senator from 1978-1990 and returned to the Legislature as an assemblyman in 2008.

“As the original author … I know the value of these programs,” Nielsen said. “I am a product of these programs and they are sound and excellent … For over 31 years they have been successful, and there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to remove this funding.”

A top state official has said the money would still be there for school districts but would not be earmarked specifically for ag education. The elimination of categorical funding, which is earmarked for specific purposes, is part of a larger effort to return local control to school districts, deputy state finance director H.D. Palmer told the Capital Press earlier this year.

Brown has assured districts that have received the ag education funding that the money will be available next year, too, he said. Districts shouldn’t be tempted to use the money on more pressing needs because the governor also proposes giving about $6 billion in funds deferred in previous budgets to schools, Palmer said.

However, farm groups have vowed to continue to fight for the ag-specific grants, as they did last year when the Legislature agreed to keep them as categorical for at least another year. The statewide Farm Bureau. which has led the fight for the funding, is currently analyzing Salas’ bill, legislative policy analyst Andrea Fox said in an email.

Salas said he discussed his effort with Brown during a dinner and he continues talking with the governor’s office. The discussions come after Salas and 84 other legislators sent a letter to Brown urging the funding be restored.

Salas and Nielsen are both confident the bill has enough bipartisan support to pass, they said.

“This bill has been received very well by my colleagues,” Salas said. “It’s been a bipartisan effort … We’re fighting really hard to make sure we’re successful.”

Assembly Bill 2033

Proposal: Retain funding for the 31-year-old Agricultural Education Incentive Grant program

Author: Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, http://asmdc.org/members/a32/

Read the bill: http://leginfo.ca.gov

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Idaho provides more money for ag education http://www.capitalpress.com/20140324/idaho-provides-more-money-for-ag-education http://www.capitalpress.com/20140324/idaho-provides-more-money-for-ag-education#Comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 11:41:45 -0400 Sean Ellis http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140329950 BOISE — Supporters of the Idaho Ag Education Initiative credit the state’s farming industry for helping convince lawmakers to approve most of the $2.24 million proposal.

“The entire agricultural industry came on in support of this and backed it and that carried a lot of weight here in the legislature,” said Shawn Dygert, legislative liaison for the Idaho Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association.

The initiative was put together too late in the year to be included in the governor’s proposed budget and as a result it struggled early in the legislative session.

“There were moments where we were concerned about its survival,” Gov. Butch Otter said March 18 shortly before he signed a bill that implements part of the proposal. “It was on life support a couple of times.”

Idaho FFA Foundation Chairman Kevin Barker said dozens of ag-related businesses stepped up to tell legislators how important secondary agricultural education programs are to the state’s farming industry.

“Their support through the legislature is what brought this to fruition,” he said.

The initiative was divided into several parts that were approved separately, either in bill form or through greater appropriations.

The bill that Otter signed creates common Idaho quality standards for all ag education programs, $10,000 annual incentive grants based on those standards, and $25,000 start-up grants for ag education programs.

Steve Wilder, an FFA instructor at Meridian High School, said proposal supporters estimate about 40 percent of Idaho’s 126 ag education instructors will qualify for the incentive grant the first year.

Lawmakers also increased “added cost” funding — money provided by the state for costs associated with certain programs that are above normal classroom costs — for ag education classes from $10,260 to $15,000 per full-time instructor.

“We haven’t had a change (in added cost funding) since 1998 so we were due and I think they realized that,” Wilder said.

Legislators also approved funding for a full-time FFA Association executive director.

The only part of the plan lawmakers didn’t approve was a statewide professional development and mentoring program for agriculture and natural resource programs created within the last three years.

Wilder said the money provided through the various pieces of the proposal is critical to help maintain and improve the state’s secondary agricultural education and FFA programs.

Enrollment in Idaho ag education programs has increased 20 percent over the past five years but teacher turnover is up, too. Forty-six of the state’s 126 ag education teachers left in the past two years.

Idaho FFA Alumni Foundation President Sid Freeman pointed out that 63 percent of students who take ag education classes in Idaho go on to college, much higher than the statewide rate of 47 percent for other students.

“I believe the state of Idaho will see greater returns on their investment on this endeavor than any of the other endeavors that they have funded so far this year,” he said.

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Oregon FFA members elect new officers http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140324/oregon-ffa-members-elect-new-officers http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140324/oregon-ffa-members-elect-new-officers#Comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:05:47 -0400 Hannah Brause http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140329949 BEND, Ore. — Ian Oppernlander of Madras has been elected the new Oregon FFA president.

He was elected at the annual statewide FFA leadership conference in Bend and joins the following new officers for 2014-2015:

• Vice president: Brecklin Milton of Ontario.

• Secretary: Kylee Fisher of Burns.

• Treasurer: Mitchell Adams of Culver.

• Reporter: Collin Matthias of Canby.

• Sentinel: Meghan Stadeli of Silverton.

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