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FFA students, teachers lobby for state funding

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FFA students, teachers  lobby for state funding

Manteca High and East Union High school ag teachers Tristyn Silva and Kristen Buck are shown at the last Board of Trustees meeting. Their appearance was part of an ongoing letter-writing campaign a...


POSTED March 28, 2014 1:26 a.m.

Save our FFA. That was the rallying cry of the FFA students and teachers from Manteca Unified to Governor Jerry Brown and other political leaders at the recent California Ag Day held at the state capitol.

More than 50 FFA students from the East Union, Manteca, Sierra, and Weston Ranch high school Ag Departments accompanied by teachers and some parents attended the event. The trip was just part of an ongoing “letter-writing campaign” to state officials asking them not to cut the funding for FFA programs.

Manteca High Ag teacher Tristyn Silva and East Union Ag teacher Kristen Buck were among the teachers who accompanied the students to the state capitol.

The money they are fighting for is only $10,000 to $12,000 a year, but “that’s half of what we used to get before the budget crisis,” Silva pointed out.

But as small as that amount represents, “it helps offset some of the costs” that their FFA programs incur during the school year, Buck and Silva said. These expenses include school supplies, metal and wood items for projects, student leadership fees when the students go to state and national conferences, and when they go to various types of competitions.

“It was fun; it went very well,” Silva said of their trip to Sacramento last week.

“The students got to listen to some speeches” given by the governor, assemblymen and senators, as well as the Secretary of Agriculture.

“They also got an opportunity to go around and see different industry jobs that are available,” Silva said. “One of the big things we did was to let (state officials know) about ag in the high school and how important FFA is, and that we need their support at this time.”

At the Board of Trustees meeting last week, retired Manteca High ag teacher Ed Fichtner emphasized the value of FFA not only for the students but for everybody.

“This is our future,” retired Manteca High School ag teacher said of the students in blue uniforms who were at the board meeting to be recognized for their accomplishments. Several of the FFA students in attendance were recognized for achieving the State FFA Degree, the highest recognition they could receive in California. Honored that evening were FFA students from Sierra High. Other FFA students from the other high schools who have received the same award will be honored as well at a future board meeting.

A total of 19 FFA students from all five high schools in the district have reached this level of achievement.

“This is the highest honor they can get from the state” for their various projects, Silva said.

From here, the students can go on and try for the National FFA Degree.

“You’ve got to really push it. Children are going to be your future,” Fichtner said about the value of FFA in the school curriculum.

The state award is conferred by the California FFA Association. The American FFA Degree is given by the National FFA Association with the award presentation taking place either in Indiana or Louisville, Ky.

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