Local Ag teacher speaks out against Governor Brown’s proposal
by Brooke Borba | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 16, 2014 | 1526 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Funding for high school agricultural education could be at risk in the near future after Governor Brown proposed the complete elimination of funding for the Agricultural Education Incentive Grant in his 2014-15 State Budget release last week.

The grant, which is designed to provide matching funds for districts who meet state approved program standards in agricultural education, has become a necessity for many programs within Central California, including the Patterson High School’s Future Farmers of America student organization.

“I think it is important to note how devastating this would be to the high school agriculture programs in the state, including ours,” said FFA advisor and agricultural instructor Samantha Cahill of Patterson High School. 

“We have over 400 students enrolled in our agriculture program at Patterson High School that are involved in hands-on, skill-based learning every day. They complete leadership trainings, community service activities, public speaking events, competitive career development events, and much more. None of these events would be possible without the funding we receive from the state.”

Although Governor Brown agreed to keep the program running this year, changes are in the works to end the $4.1 million in funding for the state’s 315 agricultural programs, which poses a threat for over 74,000 students in agricultural programs in California.

Despite the cutback, studies presented by AgAlert have shown a steady climb and interest within the past decade of students directing their focus on agricultural activities and projects, both inside and outside the classroom.

Jim Aschwanden, executive director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Assocation, is also disappointed in Governor Brown’s proposal, considering the fact that California is the leading agricultural-producing state in the nation.

“These programs are vital if we expect to attract bright, talented and innovative students to help meet the many challenges facing both agriculture and the state of California over the next several decades,” said Aschwanden. “The elimination of support for high quality, rigorous program standards sends a clear message to schools that agriculture and these programs are not important for the future of our state economy. We think this is a terrible mistake.”

As a small town community based in agriculture, Cahill fears the decision to cease funding for the programs will have a distressing effect on the West Side’s local economy and her students.

“We are centered in an agricultural community, so the loss of funding to this program would mean the loss of educating future consumers and future employees in the largest industry in California,” said Cahill. “Our students would be at a true disadvantage.”

Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or brooke@pattersonirrigator.com.

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