Merced County Times Newspaper
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Atwater FFA branches out during leadership retreat


Atwater FFA Reporter

“We are all one piece of the puzzle,” was selected as the 2019-2020 Atwater FFA theme as advisors and chapter officers gathered in Yosemite National Park for their annual Atwater FFA Chapter Officer Leadership Retreat on Aug. 5-7.

The primary goals of the three day retreat was to plan the calendar, identify yearly objectives to help strengthen and continue the growth of its members and program, and strengthen team building skills.

“Our officer team starts the school year with focus, vision, and enthusiasm in leading their organization and our students,” said FFA advisor Kim Mesa. This year’s officer team hopes to inspire student leadership, expand personal success, increase participation from current members, and strengthen recruitment of new members. “This year’s theme represents the goal towards inclusion and diversity among all students and the opportunities for them to explore academic success, personal growth, leadership, skill development, and career exploration through agriculture education and the FFA,” said Atwater FFA President Hayley Vargas.

Leadership retreat highlights included two days exploring and hiking Yosemite National Park’s valley and all the scenery associated with its beauty. For many students and some staff members, this was their first trip inside the park. “The opportunity to explore and visit a beautiful park such as Yosemite while getting to know fellow students and teachers was a highlight and a lifelong memorable experience.” said FFA officer Jennifer Velazquez.

The Atwater High School agriculture program has been recognized as one of the state’s most productive agriculture programs by the California Agricultural Teacher’s Association (CATA) and the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE). “We have tremendous support from our school administration, school district, and our community in supporting FFA and agriculture education as a way to get students involved and provide individuals with purpose, direction and self-confidence in life,” said agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Jose Vargas.

The new officer team is looking forward to the challenges and rewards that the upcoming 2019-2020 school year holds for them. This year’s officer team includes Hayley Vargas, President; Daniel Lopez, Vice President; Jennifer Velazquez, Secretary; Simarjot Gandhoke, Treasurer; Eryka Lepper, Reporter; Ethan Slate, Sentinel; Sabrina Lopez, Historian; and Vanessa Varela, Parliamentarian. In addition to the Atwater FFA chapter officers, three other Atwater FFA members Emmanuel Mejia and Alyssa Carrillo joined the leadership retreat as they will be serving as sectional FFA officers within the California FFA Association.

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website .

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