Turlock Christian High School has recently launched a new Future Farmers of America (FFA) Program, making the high school the first private school to launch FFA within the State of California.
While the program is still in the process of growing, a large number of students have already joined. The program currently has 31 students participating actively.
“The students here are awesome,” stated FFA Director Hannah Ewing, who also teaches at Turlock Christian. “They have been really supportive and no program can function without students who are willing to do new things, and they are so excited.”
Ewing, a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Animal Science, is in her first year of teaching at Turlock Christian High School. She is currently finishing her Masters Degree in Agriculture Education, and is teaching Ag Biology and Introduction to Agriculture at the high school.
“Turlock is really agriculturally focused,” stated Ewing. “A lot of parents had been asking and pushing for an Ag Program at Turlock Christian.”
Ewing explained that many of the Jr. High students at Turlock Christian, who share the campus with the high school, had to previously decide between staying at the private high school or leave to attend public school if they had interest in participating in FFA. This had sparked many to debate the private school vs public school differences.
Students no longer have to make that choice, however. As of April 2012, FFA can now be offered in private schools, and Turlock Christian jumped on board as quickly as possible.
While many other FFA programs at public high schools receive state funding through grants, Turlock Christian’s FFA program is 100% community funded.
Ewing reported that while the school is only offering two agriculture related courses this year, she hopes to have more classes added over time, with a complete “ag pathway” finished within the next four years.
FFA members at Turlock Christian have already been involved in competitions, with two teams from the school earning silver medals at the Opening/Closing competition held on October 17th.
Ewing also sent a huge thanks out to other local FFA Directors from both Pitman High and Turlock High School who helped her with ideas and strategies for getting the program running at the private school. Pitman High School FFA even allowed Turlock Christian to borrow their team jackets for their first competition, before Turlock Christian received their own.
“There’s no one out to get you in Ag teaching,” stated Ewing. “If they can’t help you, they will refer you to someone else. I appreciate that about our Ag teaching community. It’s about the students, and I love that about Ag teachers…they know it and they show it.”
For more information about Turlock Christian, visit www.turlockchristian.com.