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Turlock, Pitman ag programs receive thousands in grant funding
high school ag pic
The over $600K in funds allocated to the grantee consortium, which includes Turlock and Pitman high ag departments, are to expand student opportunities for work-based learning in high-demand career fields, like ag mechanics. - photo by Journal file photo

The agriculture departments at Turlock High School and Pitman High School received an early Christmas surprise this year as they were recently awarded upwards of $600,000 through the California Career Pathways Trust to improve, expand and initiate agricultural career pathways.


“It feels like Christmas,” said PHS agriculture department chair Krista Vannest, who said that she can not wait to use a portion of the funds to finally purchase a truck for the department. “We were screaming in the hallways and running around. We asked for the moon and they gave it to us.”


The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees approved the CCPT grant allocations on Wednesday for THS and PHS for $276,829 and $341,061, respectively. The funds allocated to the grantee consortium, Central Region Agricultural Education Career Pathway Consortium, are approved for use in three agricultural-related pathways: Agriscience, Agricultural Mechanics and Ornamental Horticulture.

“The CCPT grant will allow Agriculture Education pathways in Ag Mechanics, Ornamental Horticulture, and Agriscience throughout the Central Valley to enhance instruction with upgraded technology, develop crucial partnerships with the industry sector, and expand student opportunities for work-based learning in high-demand career fields,” said THS agriculture department chair Joe DiGrazia.


Following the Board’s approval on Wednesday, PHS can now move forward in spending 42 percent of the grant funding, or $143,246, for the 2015-16 academic year. In 2016-17, the department can spend the remaining 58 percent, or $197,815. Similarly, THS can spend $166,268 in the 2015-16 school year and $160,561 the following year.


The money allocated to PHS and THS is part of a larger $15 million CCPT grant that was awarded to the ag education consortium, which includes 36 high schools, three community colleges and three universities.


This regional partnership is one of 40 consortia across California that comprises the second round recipients of grants provided through the CCPT program. This is the largest program of its kind in the nation. The program is providing nearly $500 million in career tech grants over two rounds of grants.


“The CATA is eager to serve as a partner in this epic opportunity to promote, improve and initiate career pathways in agriculture that are based on a partnership of education and industry that will successfully prepare students for postsecondary training, and/or direct placement, in the agriculture industry,” said CATA Director Jim Aschwanden.