Pioneer Valley High School has reason to be proud of its graduates Adela Garcia and Marc Cabeliza.
The FFA students from Santa Maria were recently named Western Region champions and national finalists in the Agricultural Proficiency Award program.
They will be interviewing virtually this week with industry representatives from the National FFA Association. Results from the National Proficiency Award program will be announced at the National FFA Convention in late October.
The awards honor FFA members who have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers, according to a news release. Students can advance from the local to national level for awards in nearly 50 areas, which vary from crop production to environmental sciences. Students earn scholarship awards as they advance to each level.
Adela Garcia, now an agricultural business student at Allan Hancock College, is a national finalist in the area of vegetable production. She has been actively involved in her family’s vegetable farm over the last four years.
After finishing her associate’s degree at Allan Hancock College, Ms. Garcia plans to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to earn her bachelor’s degree. She wishes to use her educational experience to expand her family’s farming business.
Ms. Garcia said the experience validates the labor and effort she has dedicated to the agricultural industry. She believes that by being named a National Finalist “other students will be encouraged to share their stories working in the fields and (allow them to) value the hard work they’ve put into their jobs.”
Marc Cabeliza, who currently serves as the California FFA President, is a national finalist in the area of Service Learning.
Over the last four years, Mr. Cabeliza was a part of a team that built The Patch Santa Maria, a local student-run pumpkin patch, from the ground up. He was involved in transplanting pumpkins, serving visitors and transforming Los Flores Ranch Park.
He helped develop educational exhibits, organized giveaways for the community and developed industry relationships with Driscoll’s and the California Strawberry Commission.
After his year of serving the California FFA, Mr. Cabeliza plans to major in mechanical engineering at Cal Poly and use this knowledge to benefit automation in agriculture.
Mr. Carbeliza said earning National Honors will “motivate other students to take action within their agriculture programs and communities so they, too, can unlock their true potential within the FFA.”