The California State School Board Association's "Golden Bell" awards were given out December 3 in San Diego with Buena Park High School's Agricultural Education program winning the prestigious "Partnerships and Collaboratives" category. Agromin is a major sponsor of the school's agriculture program and Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter.
One of the award criteria is that the program must be in existence for three years prior to receiving the award and must still be in effect at the time the awards are given. Supporting data must be collected during those three years. Applicants must show that their program has made a difference for students, is sustainable and motivating and is connected to the school board's vision.
The ag education program has been one of the most well-received as well as one of the most innovative. While BPHS sits in the heart of a densely-populated urban area of Orange County, California, the ag education program offers the students the chance to learn responsibility, leadership skills, independence, and has also opened their eyes and thoughts to a whole new range of career opportunities (including horticulture, agribusiness, commercial farming and teaching).
Jessica Fernandes is the school's agriculture science teacher and FFA chapter leader at Buena Park High School. She is joined by MaryAnn Maxfield (a second ag teacher added this year due to the program's huge growth) and farmhand Samantha Valverde. The energy, passion and commitment to their students are the main driving force behind the enormous success of the program. The number of students in the program has jumped from 62 the first year to over 400 in 2011 and is expected to increase again in the fall of 2012.
Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO, Jessica Fernandes, BPHS ag science teacher, James Combs, BPHS principal.
Principal James Coombs called the partnership with Agromin "the tipping point for the huge success of our program. Without the partnership with Agromin, our program wouldn't have experienced the growth it has, nor be as sustainable as it is. We are so proud to be aligned with Agromin."
Bill Camarillo, CEO of Agromin, said one word comes to his mind when asked about the Agromin partnership of BPHS: pride. "I'm proud Agromin is aligned with a program that truly helps kids. The reward for us is that we are part of helping kids learn that we all have to give back to the earth and not deplete its natural resources. We are teaching them to be more independent as well, and live a more sustainable, green lifestyle. These students will now take that message to the next group and teach them, and they in turn will teach the next and so on."
Labels: Agromin, Buena Park, Buena Park High School ag school, Future Farmers of America, Future Farmers Orange County, Golden Bell awards, school farm program