Clovis East ag program selected for national award

National Association of Agricultural Educators officials and Clovis East educators gather for a group photo at the NAAE annual convention in San Antonio on Nov. 28, 2018. Left to right: Chad Massar, NAAE Region 1 Vice President; David Valdez, CEHS ag teacher; Steve Gambril, CEHS ag teacher; Amanda Shoffner, CEHS ag teacher and FFA advisor; Jennifer Knight, CEHS Ag Department Chair; Aireal Covey, CEHS ag teacher and FFA advisor; Gregory Ravy, CEHS ag teacher; Ken Dias, CEHS ag teacher; Katelyn Titus Region 1 outstanding early career teacher from Galt, CA; and Nick Nelson, NAAE President. CONTRIBUTED BY CLOVIS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Clovis East High School agricultural education program was one of six finalist nationwide to receive the 2018 National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award, given at the NAAE annual convention in San Antonio on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Clovis East agriculture teachers Steven Gambril, Ken Dias, Aireal Covey, Amanda Shoffner, Jennifer Knight, David Valdez, and Greg Ravy were on hand to receive the honor.

This is the second award for CEHS this calendar year. Back in June, the school was recognized at the California Agriculture Teachers’ Association Conference as the Outstanding Secondary Agriculture Program in the state.

“Once we won the state award in June, then that qualified us to submit an application to the NAEE for the national recognition,” said Knight, the Clovis East Agriculture Department Chair. “After we applied, they contacted us and told us we were selected as the winner for Region 1 which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.”

With seven teachers, the Clovis East Agriculture Program has the opportunity to serve all five comprehensive high schools in the Clovis Unified School District.

What makes this program unique is that it serves students possessing a range of agricultural knowledge and experience. It is the goal of the ag department to provide educational and motivational opportunities that allow students to become both college and career ready. These goals are reached through the program’s implementation of rigorous curriculum, establishment of valuable partnerships, utilization of the 22-acre state-of-the-art McFarlane Coffman Agriculture Center, and support from the school district and community.

Knight credits those factors for making the award possible.

“It means a lot, it means that we have a high-quality program,” Knight said of the award. “Our ag education model is set up where students participate in classroom learning but they also do experiential learning through something called Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). They’re basically projects that the students conduct to enhance their learning. Our students also get leadership experience by participating in the national FFA organization. [The award] means that we’re doing a good job in all of those areas. We’re doing things that are innovative and it’s seen as a high-quality opportunity for kids.”

The program – which includes four comprehensive CTE pathways of ag mechanics, plant science, agri-science and animal science – have been developed to serve Clovis East’s 1,000-plus students. Thanks to the agricultural center on campus, students have the ability to use a variety of pathway specific lab facilities and technology. Due to this facility access, students are able to critically think and solve real-world problems by performing industry-specific skills during classroom and laboratory activities. Industry professionals also offer guidance regularly to teachers so they may better prepare students for real world applications and solutions.

All students are also required to develop and maintain a Supervised Agriculture Experience, as Knight mentioned. A SAE is a project, work experience, or internship students complete outside of a formal classroom setting focused on a specific area of the agriculture industry. Successes in these experiences allow many students to be offered part time employment at the conclusion of their projects or internships.

“Dedication to innovation and student success has allowed the Clovis East Agriculture Department to grow and flourish,” according to a statement from NAAE. “Through the combined efforts of an advisory committee and teachers, not only is the program noteworthy among other California high schools, but even serves as a model in California for what a functional middle school agriculture program looks like.”