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Pitman High FFA teachers lauded for outstanding program
Pitman High School agriculture teachers and Future Farmers of America advisors Krista Vannest, Luke Gocke and Nicole Silveira were recognized as the Tri-Rivers FFA Sections Outstanding 2-3 Person Secondary Program during the Central Region California Agricultural Teachers Association Awards Banquet. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

Pitman High School Agriculture Teacher Nicole Silveira garnered the agreement of her colleagues and fellow Future Farmers of America advisors Krista Vannest and Luke Gocke when she said that the responsibility of overseeing nearly 500 registered FFA students at the high school campus is not just an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. job.


“It’s an 8 a.m. until the last kid has been helped kind of job,” said Silveira.


“We probably care more about the kids than we do about ourselves,” added Gocke.


This devotion shared between all three teachers was undoubtedly on the minds of all FFA teachers in the Tri-Rivers FFA Section, which is comprised of 10 area high schools in southern Stanislaus County, during the Central Region California Agricultural Teachers’ Association Awards Banquet last month when they voted the PHS FFA team as the section’s Outstanding 2-3 Person Secondary Program.


“It means a lot that they thought that much of us,” said Vannest, who recently retired as the regional president. “It definitely shows that our hard work is recognized. They see the quality of our kids and the quality of work we do.


“They recognize the time we put into all of this and that just makes us feel appreciated,” continued Vannest.


This isn’t the first time that PHS FFA teachers have been recognized for their dedication as the team already took the State title in 2008 for Outstanding 2-3 Person Secondary Program. The same year, the program was also a national finalist.


“I think they just recognize that we participate in every event,” said Vannest. “We show up with a quality representation and we hold our kids to high expectations with behavior.”


Silveira, who is also currently a section officer, said that in addition to making sure students attend nearly every event—including conferences, contests and community service opportunities—she and her colleagues attend multiple in-services and workshops.


Vannest said that she hopes that by earning this type of recognition, her students will feel more involved in “something that’s pretty special” and take ownership of the program.


“Our students should feel recognized for their efforts too because it wasn’t just three teachers that did it,” said Vannest. “I want this to motivate them to want to be involved and to motivate them to keep this title—to earn it again.”


The team said that the sectional award and several other awards, including Outstanding Single Person Program and Outstanding Ag Teacher, were brought to the area by a new regional supervisor to encourage the local FFA leadership teams to apply for state awards.

Other area winners include Turlock Christian High School for Outstanding Single Person Secondary Program, Central Valley High School for Outstanding 4-plus Person Secondary Program, Hughson High School Agriculture teacher Travis Cardoso for Outstanding Young Teacher, and Turlock High School Agriculture teacher Joe DiGrazia for Outstanding Ag Teacher.