The Santa Maria High School Agriculture Education Program is the best in the state.
That’s according to the California Agriculture Teachers Association, which gave it the No. 1 ranking as the 2021 CATA Outstanding Agricultural Education Program.
The recent virtual recognition was announced at the CATA’s summer conference.
In addition to the program being honored, Shannon Powell who has taught for 12 years (nine at Santa Maria High School), was selected as a CATA Teacher of Excellence. This award is based on professional and student activities, community involvement and the teachers’ instructional program in the classroom setting.
The Saint Ag Program received its No. 1 ranking due to its achievements in classroom instruction, experiential learning, the FFA student organization and leadership development, community partnership and the teachers’ professional development.
To earn this honor, the agriculture department submitted its application to the CATA, which was then scored by a committee of agriculture educators from across California, according to a news release.
There are 340 agriculture education programs in California with Santa Maria FFA being the state’s largest. During the 2020-2021 school year, the program had 10 agriculture teachers who served 1,087 students, who were enrolled in 49 sections of agriculture courses.
The current district agriculture teachers are department chair Mark Powell, Marc DeBernardi, Luis Guerra, Clemente Ayon, Melissa Flory, Amanda Rodriguez, Shannon Powell, Sara Araujo, Kimura Yamamoto and Michael Guerra.
The Agriculture Department offers five pathways to the students including agriscience, ornamental horticulture, agriculture mechanics, animal science and agribusiness. Each pathway has courses that are specifically designed to allow students to learn by doing and to make a connection to our local agriculture industry.
Furthermore, there are five courses offered that allow students to earn concurrent enrollment credit at Allan Hancock College.
Each student in the agriculture program is a member of the California and National FFA organizations.