North State Agriculture

FFA Field Day competitions are vitally important to students.

Do you know which state grows nearly half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts? Leads the nation in milk production? Generates over $37 billion a year in agriculture—more than any other state? California, of course!

Agriculture is such an integral part of the Golden State’s fabric. It has more than 2,000 different soils and 400 crops. Most commercial farming in California is done by families or partnerships. So keeping middle and high school students—the farmers of tomorrow—in the agricultural education pipeline is crucial to the economic health and cultural heritage of the state. This is what the FFA organization is all about.

One recent Saturday, high school freshmen Paige Smith, Shaye Root, and Hailie Willey got up early, put on their blue and gold FFA jackets, and boarded a bus with 20 classmates from Red Bluff High School. Heading south to Chico State’s Paul L. Byrne Memorial Agricultural Teaching and Research Center, the place most people call the University Farm, their destination was the Chico State and Butte College annual FFA Field Day. Attracting nearly 1,600 high school students from California and Oregon, this event had 22 contests and skill challenges ranging from ag mechanics to vegetable crops. 

“FFA Field Day competitions are vitally important to students,” says Tim Brown, FFA advisor at Tulelake High School in Siskiyou County. “They learn to achieve, set goals, and interact with peers, college students, and professors. It is great to see how FFA members will react when they hear their name called at the awards ceremonies.” Brown, who makes the 400-mile round-trip journey to Chico State on a regular basis with his students, adds that “this is an invaluable service that Chico State provides. The Tulelake FFA has participated at Chico State for FFA Workout Days, Field Days, practice and regional parli-pro (parliamentary procedure) contests, regional FFA officer interviews, regional FFA meetings, and regional speaking competitions. Chico State faculty, staff, and students donate many hours assisting our FFA program.”

FFA Field Days, held throughout the country with standardized contest criteria, are unique in the array of opportunities they provide. Besides hands-on academic and career training, high school students sharpen their communication skills, leadership abilities, and teamwork talents. This is the FFA motto—Learning to Do; Doing to Learn; Earning to Live; Living to Serve—in action.

Reaching out to North State future farmers is an obligation Chico State takes seriously.  Strengthening relationships with K-12 education and community colleges is a College of Agriculture strategic goal.

Ag Business student Jennifer Weber has raised pigs for 9 years.
Ag Business student Jennifer Weber has raised pigs for 9 years.