Despite the challenges of distance learning, especially for a hands-on program like agriculture, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District’s agriculture students won awards and recognition in state-level career development events, and Pioneer Valley High School students excelled at the California State FFA Leadership Conference.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TYLER DICKINSON
MAKING HISTORY Pioneer Valley High School senior Marc Cabeliza is the first Pioneer Valley High School FFA member to be elected president of the California FFA Association.
“This whole year has been such a great challenge, having to transition nearly everything that we do in our programs into a virtual format,” PVHS agriculture teacher Tyler Dickinson said. “FFA is a very hands-on, experiential learning type of program where students have the ability to get their hands dirty and learn some skills that translate into a career.”
But PVHS students found a way to make it work, and still get that hands-on ag experience outside of the classroom.
“Before the reopening, [Chapter President] Marc Cabeliza and the rest of the leadership team, they’ve worked really hard trying to engage the community with drive-through events and giveaways, and providing fresh produce to over 1,000 families in the community,” Dickinson said. “At The Patch
, Marc had given out over 500 boxes of strawberries to the community.”
Cabeliza, along with three other PVHS FFA students, won recognition for their Specialized Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects at the California State FFA Leadership Conference last month. Cabeliza has worked with The Patch Santa Maria, which gives local students leadership and agricultural opportunities through pumpkin and corn growing programs, for the last three years. He was named the state winner in the SAE area of service learning for his dedication to The Patch, and also elected to be the California State FFA President.
“He will be taking a year off [before] college, and he will be kind of an advocate for the agriculture industry and working with the industry, and putting on leadership conferences,” Dickinson said of Cabeliza’s presidential role. “He’s going to be a representative for the entire state association, which is over 95,000 FFA members here in California.”
PVHS, Santa Maria High School, and Righetti High School students all placed in various career development events at the state level as well. PVHS student Hannah Limon was the state champion for soil and land evaluation, the team that Dickinson coaches.
“Despite the societal challenges that we’ve had,” Dickinson said, “Pioneer Valley has definitely soared over this past year and has become resilient, and embraced those challenges.” Δ