California Ag Plate Funding Set


The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is currently accepting proposals for the 2019 California Agriculture Special Interest License Plate (CalAgPlate) grant program. This program provides an estimated $250,000 in grant funding to promote agricultural education and leadership activities for students at the K-12, post-secondary, and adult education levels. Proceeds generated through the sales of specialized, agriculture-themed license plates through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have made this opportunity available.

“We are very proud of this program and this marks its sixth year of providing agricultural education opportunities,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The CalAgPlate Program raises awareness about our rich agricultural production, as well as the stewardship practices of California’s farmers and ranchers in bringing these products to our tables.”

Purchasing a CalAgPlate funds educational opportunities statewide that include agricultural workshops, farm tours, and the state Future Farmers of America (FFA) Leadership Conference. The CalAgPlate program has funded more than $1.2 million in youth educational activities since the program’s inception.

Funding is available on a competitive basis for eligible agricultural education programs as well as government agencies and non-profit organizations that administer agricultural education programs. The application deadline is October 7, 2019.

For further information and grant application materials, please visit  

You can help support agricultural education and the CalAgPlate program by purchasing a special interest license plate at your local DMV office or online today.

FFA Student Anna Kelly Experimenting with Garlic Eggs

Anna Kelly Feeds Her Chickens Garlic to Flavor Their Eggs with Garlic

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

It’s a very interesting concept, garlic eggs. Flavoring freshly-laid eggs with garlic. How to do it is very simple, according to Anna Kelly with the West Sacramento FFA at River City High School, who is working with a Blue Ameraucana chicken. She had the idea of replicating what your grandparents may have done. They just fed their laying hens some garlic.

Blue Ameraucana Chicken

They wanted to try to change their chickens’ diets cause their chickens were not eating much

And low and behold, the eggs started tasting as if they were seasoned with garlic.

Kelly got the idea of feeding her chicken garlic as a research project.

“I took one garlic clove, and I fed it to my chicken, whose name is Monster, and she loved it,” said Kelly. “And every time when I gave her daily garlic, she would meet me up at her bedding, and it was so cute.”

She found that her chicken wanted the garlic, and sure enough, the eggs had a garlic taste. She asked her culinary arts teacher, Cheryle Sutton to see if she could cook one of her chicken’s garlic eggs. The teacher said okay.

“I cut it up, and I asked several of my teachers to try it,” Kelly said. “And it was amazing; the teachers said it tasted like an actual garlic egg. No salt and pepper, no other additional seasonings.”

“What I’m hoping is to grow my project more. I am incubating more chickens, and I’m going to put them on the same diet. I want to test different varieties of chickens to see which one’s eggs taste more like garlic eggs,” Kelly explained.

Eventually, she may grow the project into a wholesale operation supplying grocery stores with garlic-tasting eggs.

To hear a podcast with Anna Kelly on her garlic eggs experiment, click here.

CA FFA Leadership Conference April 24-28

91st FFA Annual Conference is in Anaheim

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The FFA is a leadership and career development organization found in many California high schools. It represents more than 91,000 members from 320 chapters across the state.

About 7,000 of those FFA students will converge on Anaheim from April 24 to 26 for the 91st Annual Conference.

“There’s going to be some public speaking contests, and the students will participate in workshops by the agricultural colleges and universities throughout the state,” said Matt Patton, Executive Director of California FFA. “They’re also going to conduct the business of the FFA association. It is a true student-run organization.”

All 320 chapters from California will send two delegates to do the organization’s business. There are a couple of items that they’re going to debate on and vote on what will be a change in the bylaws of the FFA. Additionally, they are going to elect their new state officers that will represent the state of California for the upcoming year.

Patton noted the diversity of the California FFA.

“Of the more than 91,000 members, 48 percent are female, and 51 percent are male. Hispanic and Latino members represent 41 percent, 43 percent are Caucasian, with three percent African American. We are very diverse in a large demographic of areas.”

For more information on the upcoming convention:

#GiveACrop Campaign Helps Consumers Understand Crop Protection

#GiveACrop: Simple Message About Crop Protection Tools

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Sarah Macedo is the communications manager for CropLife America, a trade association that assists and advocates for their members, based in Washington D.C. They are the manufacturers, formulators, and distributors that manufacture organic and non-organic pesticides,

Macedo explained the #GiveACrop campaign, which puts a positive message for the need for crop protection products in agriculture.

“Go to, take a look at those memes along with myths and facts. We just want to talk about things in a realistic person-to-person way and not get too into this science, but just kind of talk about why pesticides are necessary,” Macedo said.

“Regarding the Give a Crop videos, we have heard from both farmer friends, adversaries, and consumers. We had a lot of the FFA kids who absolutely love them, which is great since that is our target audience; we do know that they are sharing that with their friends who are in the on-ag space,” she noted.

We don’t have a lot of money behind it, so we have been promoting it on social media, and we’ve gotten great pickup even from folks who normally aren’t the friendliest in the ag space. They’ll watch one, and they’ll have posted and saying, ‘we may not necessarily agree, but these are funny and to the point,’” Macedo explained

Again, Crop Life America is a trade association representing the manufacturers, formulators, and distributors of organic and non-organic pesticides.

“We include government affairs, science and regulatory communications experts, and those from the legal profession who help our members, and our members And we advocate on their behalf to make sure that no regulations are going unchecked, that everything is based on sound science and getting the information out about the benefits of pesticides and why they’re used and about American farming in general,” Macedo said.

CDFA Supports Ag Education

CDFA Awards more than $250,000 to support Ag Education

Today, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $257,000 to four organizations for projects that enhance agricultural education and leadership opportunities for students, teachers and youth under the 2016 California Special Interest Plate (CalAgPlate) grant program.

“The CalAgPlate program helps to support agricultural education and leadership opportunities,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Every purchase and renewal of a CalAgPlate provides funding for activities that enrich the lives of students through exposure to farming and ranching across the state.”

Funded projects include school farm tours with the Dairy Council of California; ‘LearnAboutAg’ assemblies at elementary schools hosted by California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom; an agricultural leadership program in Monterey County for community leaders and professions; and support for California Future Farmers of America’s (FFA) leadership and development programs. Each of these projects provides educational and leadership opportunities connected to the agricultural sector.

The CalAgPlate program is funded with proceeds generated through the sale of specialized, agriculture-themed license plates through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

CalAgPlate project abstracts are available online at

Help to support agricultural education and the CalAgPlate program by purchasing a special interest license plate at your local DMV office or online today.

FFA Jackets Giving Tuesday Campaign

FFA Jackets Needed for Members

By Laurie Greene, Associate Editor

We have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the newest opportunity, #GivingTuesday—a global day of giving that has grown into a movement uniting people around the world on November 29th, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

There’s a big #GivingTuesday campaign for the California FFA to purchase 100 of those iconic blue FFA jackets for members in need.

FFA Members explore a diverse range of opportunities in agriculture

Katie Otto, development director of the California FFA Foundation said, “We have approximately 84,000 members in California, and 324 different chapters. Our members say having a jacket makes them feel like they are a part of something,” she said.

“It’s something that they hold on to. It makes them feel unified in what they’re doing. ‘Not to mention, a lot of our students wear jackets to field days,” Otto noted.

“They wear them at their county fair when they show, at chapter meetings and conferences. The list goes on and on in terms of opportunities where they wear their jackets.”

Each $65 raised will purchase a jacket along with an FFA tie for young men and a scarf for young women. 

Black Friday and Cyber Tuesday are all about getting things; #GivingTuesday is set aside for giving. Of course you do not have to wait for #GivingTuesday for the FFA campaign. You can donate anytime, now and even beyond Nov. 29.

How can you donate to the FFA #GivingTuesday campaign? Go to

Credit cards and Pay Pal accounts are accepted.

FFA Student is Great Reporter

Hughson FFA Student Thrives on Agriculture


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director


California FFA Association, a high school youth leadership and career development organization, is very dynamic in the state. FFA chapters are located throughout the state’s agricultural areas. We had a conversation with Michelle Borges, a sophomore at Hughson High School. She is an active member of the Hughson FFA and serves as the 2016-17 FFA Chapter reporter.California FFA student

“My job is publicizing the FFA to everyone in the community. I write articles to the local newspapers. I’m in charge of the social media for Hughson FFA. Basically any radio broadcast, television broadcast, anything like that to get the word out about FFA,” Borges said.

Borges was also active in the 4-H starting at age five. She raised and sold goats, and she is devoted to California agriculture to this day. “One of the reasons why I love agriculture is because both my parents work in the agriculture industry. Both my brothers were super involved in the FFA, so I was kind of born into it,” she said.

Borges noted that while her family does not farm, they are involved in agricultural education. “My dad is the Dean of Agriculture at Modesto Junior College, and my mom used to be an agriculture teacher in high school, but now she teaches junior high,” she said.

While still in high school, Borges wants to continue pursuing her passion for agriculture. “When I grow up, I want to be an animal nutritionist. I’m really interested in nutrition for animals and I have also raised goats. . . ‘Seeing them grow up and then selling them. That whole project; it is really interesting to me. Also, with FFA, there’s a lot of public speaking competitions and I really enjoy public speaking in front of a crowd,” she said.

To hone her skills for that animal nutrition career, Borges plans to go to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, after she graduates from high school.

USDA Launches New Website for New Farmers and Ranchers

Source: Logan Britton, 2014 National FFA Organization Communications Intern

Farmers work hard. They work to produce food that will eventually be on our dinner plate, while dealing with unpredictable weather, long hours and countless risks. New farmers face more obstacles with starting their operations with acquiring land, equipment and capital as well as learning about regulations and insurance policies.

With these new challenges, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes to guide the next generation of farmers for their future careers. As FFA members are also preparing to be future leaders in the industry, USDA’s New Farmers website could be used as a valuable resource.

The website takes users through a step-by-step process in creating an operation. These steps include education and technical assistance, acquiring land and capital, managing risk and financial management.

FFA members trying to start their supervised agriculture experience programs can find youth loans useful. The Farm Service Agency provides up to $5,000 to be used to buy livestock, seed, equipment and other operational items. If an FFA member wanted to expand their SAE, they could check out value-added producer grants and the USDA National Farmers Market Directory. These resources could help a member find different ways to sell their products in new markets.

Krysta Harden, agriculture deputy secretary, said the age of farmers is increasing, with the average age currently standing at 58 years old.

“New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” Harden said. “For agriculture to continue prospering in this country, we need to offer products and policies that address the unique challenges and issues facing new and beginning farmers. This website aims to address some of those challenges and make getting started just a little bit easier for the next generation.”

The website also provides information for creating a business plan as well as blogs and videos of topics that pertain to new farmers and ranchers.

North Hollywood High School Ag Students Keep Tradition Alive and Will Make Future Bright

Source: Karen Ross, California Agriculture Secretary

Many decades ago, now-urban Los Angeles County was agrarian. In fact, it was once the largest Ag county in California. In that more pastoral time, North Hollywood High School had a 100-acre farm.

Since then, it has seen its footprint shrink to eight acres and is now surrounded by apartment buildings and other developments. However, that smaller plot of land is still very productive! I had a chance to see it for myself recently.

Ag students at North Hollywood High, including FFA members, work hard to maintain a farm that serves the community – including a flourishing community garden. The students raise money for the farm, themselves, without funding assistance from the school district.

When I visited, they had just completed their annual petting zoo fundraiser, which is widely supported by the community.  It was a special treat to see twins born earlier that morning to a pygmy goat!

As usual, I was impressed by the poised, confident, articulate students who are proud representatives of FFA.  I love spending time with them because they represent the promise of a future bright with possibilities.

Whether they go on to have careers in agriculture or not, they certainly will be better citizens and well informed consumers, which make for healthier communities!

There is no doubt in my mind that that North Hollywood FFA officers, Nicholas, Thomas, Jocelyn, Casey, Josh and Letitia have benefited from their FFA experience. Our future is in good hands with young people like them.

Ag Students Rally to Try to Preserve Education Grants

Source: California Farm Bureau Federation 

Concerns about future funding for high school agricultural classes and leadership programs are being voiced throughout California—and nowhere louder than at the state Capitol, where thousands of students and members of Future Farmers of America rallied last week to try to prevent elimination of the state’s $4.1 million Agricultural Education Incentive Grant program.

“It was gratifying to see the number of legislators who came out to support the students at the Capitol rally,” said Jim Aschwanden, executive director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, who estimated participation at more than 2,000 students.

“They were met with great bipartisan support from both houses,” Aschwanden said. “The kids who came to the Capitol were well prepared to discuss the programs and funding issues, and did a great job of visiting offices.”

Program funding was included in the 2013-14 budget because legislators pressured the administration to preserve it, but the administration suggested the grant program could be scrapped this year.

Agricultural educators across the state currently use the grants to support career-based education that combines FFA leadership and personal development programs with classroom and vocational instruction, he said. The programs develop young leaders who go on to attend post-secondary colleges and career technical education programs at higher rates than their peers, Aschwanden said.

Enrollment in agriculture classes offered at 315 high schools statewide has steadily climbed during the past decade, educators said. Today, about 78,000 California high school students take agriculture-related classes, with strong program growth at urban high schools as well as those in rural communities.

“As teachers, parents, community members and taxpayers, we’re angry,” said Dave Gossman, who heads the agriculture department at Atwater High School. “The decision to eliminate the ag grant program is perplexing because it impacts an education program that has a direct benefit on the lives of our kids and the state’s future.”

Without the grant funding, California’s agricultural programs could be terminated, vocational education experts said.

“Instead of eliminating California’s proven FFA program, why not secure funding and build on the programs to offer more students the opportunity for success?” Gossman said.

“Virtually every region in our state has an FFA program,” Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, said in a letter to legislative leaders, which was signed by nearly 100 members of the Legislature and also noted the rising enrollment in agricultural classes.

The classes include agriscience, mechanics, ornamental horticulture, animal science, agriculture business, plant and soil science, forestry and natural resources.

Andrea Fox, legislative policy analyst for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said Farm Bureau has been “actively involved in ensuring that funding will remain available for the agricultural grant program.” She noted that a Farm Team alert from CFBF generated nearly 400 letters to the governor and legislators in support of the program.

Aschwanden said the next steps in the state budget process will include legislative committee hearings.

“We’re anxious to see what the May (budget) revise looks like in terms of overall funding for education,” he said. “We’re hearing there may be additional funds available for education, which will make these proposed cuts to ag education even more disturbing.”

He said agricultural educators have asked people to contact legislators, “particularly those from urban areas.”

Leaders of “Save,” a grassroots group affiliated with the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, encourage parents and community leaders to write letters to the governor and members of the Legislature. More information on the effort to ensure funding for agricultural education is online at