Dr. Mark Bender, Agricultural Studies Department Chair at California State University, Stanislaus, will add another prestigious award from the Future Farmers of America (FFA) to his list of honors later this month, this time at the national level.
Bender will receive the Honorary American FFA Degree at the national organization’s 81st National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, scheduled for October 22-25. Coming on the heels of his acceptance of the California State FFA Association Degree during the 2008 State Conference in Fresno, Bender’s latest award comes in recognition of his dedication to the advancement of agricultural education and the FFA through outstanding personal commitment.
Bender has more than 36 years of service in agricultural education, including seven years at CSU Stanislaus as Founding Chair of the Agricultural Studies Department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. A former Modesto Junior College (MJC) Dean of Agriculture, Environmental Sciences, and Technical Education, he has developed a bachelor’s degree program at CSU Stanislaus that emphasizes partnerships with the state’s community colleges and other universities.
“Teaching agriculture and serving young people at the high school, community college, and university levels, as well as 4-H, FFA, and community organizations has been a big part of what I have dedicated my career to,” Bender said. “It is truly an honor to have that effort recognized at the national level.”
A familiar face on the regional agriculture scene, Bender served as superintendent of various FFA divisions at the Stanislaus County Fair for 25 years. He was also San Joaquin County Fair Livestock Manager for five years and served on high school agriculture department advisory committees and organized FFA Field Days at MJC for 27 years. Bender has had an active role in developing high school and college agriculture curriculum and Tech Prep initiatives for student leadership, articulation, and internships. A licensed American Rabbit Breeders judge, Bender has developed a rabbit curriculum that is used by high schools in California and Oregon.
Bender is co-author of the E’Portfolio personal and professional leadership and career tool that is used by colleges and high schools in California. Bender was one of 20 faculty from all over the country recognized in June 2007 in Washington, D.C., as an E. (Kikda) de la Garza Fellow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program (HSINP).
The California Association FFA has a membership of more than 60,000 students and is part of the National FFA, one of the largest youth organizations in the world.