Courtesy of San Benito High School Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum:
Dear San Benito High School Parents, Students and Community:
Though the 2019-20 in-person school year was cut short in the Spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, San Benito High School’s Agriculture Department showcased the leadership talents of its students at a variety of competitions, while also utilizing and expanding upon the wonderful, on-campus facilities supported by voter-approved bond measures.
As we look ahead to the upcoming school year, we are proud to announce that we have added a fourth teacher to the department to help solidify the varied pathways available to students, including Agriculture Mechanics, Agriscience, Ornamental Horticulture and Animal Science.
Our team of Joseph Martin, Chelsi Faria and Emily Herzog will be joined by Bailey Riedel to continue challenging students to develop new skills and enhance those they already have.
SBHS senior Alexandria Ramirez represented Hollister FFA on the South Coast Region FFA team, on which she was able to mentor FFA members from Campbell to northern Los Angeles-area counties. Taryn Wright will serve in this position for the upcoming school year.
Sarah Lima served as president of the Santa Clara Section FFA Officer Team this past year and Abby Bianchi and Katrina Moore will serve on the team in 2020-21.
A Competitive Spirit
Baler agriculture and FFA students participated in a variety of competitions throughout the year, including an October speaking contest, in which the Greenhand Team — comprised of freshmen — placed first in their division and numerous SBHS students received awards. Hollister FFA members also fared well in November’s Best Informed Greenhand contest along with a cooperative marketing contest. In January, Hollister FFA hosted and had 20 members compete in the annual Super Saturday event for the Santa Clara section. Numerous Balers placed in the event and some advanced to the regional level, where Alexandria placed third in the job interview contest and will be competing at the state level in July.
Supervised Ag Experiences
In February, Hollister FFA members submitted proficiency applications to showcase the hard work they put in outside of the classroom through their Supervised Agricultural Experiences, and a number of them earned regional and state recognition. Just before the shelter-in-place, three out of the four Hollister FFA judging teams competed in a field day at U.C. Davis, with various students placing in the competition.
Hollister FFA had multiple placers, champions and grand champions in September’s Monterey County Fair and October’s San Benito County Fair. Nine students participated in the Salinas Valley Fair, which was held virtually in May and June.
Greenhouse Is A Community Effort
The campus greenhouse near the ag barn has been producing a variety of peppers — from jalapenos to mini red bells — along with leafy greens. A new bucket hydroponic system will be used to grow tomato plants without soil and the pumpkin, melon and squash seedlings currently growing in the greenhouse are being transplanted outside into the ground this month.
Over the past few months, community support and donations have allowed progress to continue on the construction of the greenhouse and the preparation of the outside growing area. Trinchero Construction donated fuel and loaned equipment to level the ground around the new nursery, while Brigantino Irrigation, Gonzales Irrigation and Netafim donated materials and supplies to install the new irrigation system for the outside growing area.
Comgro Soil Amendments donated more than 45 tons of compost to prepare the ground that will be used to grow pumpkins, melons and squash with the help of Sabor Farms, who allowed the ag program to use a trailer to transport compost to campus. Richard McAbee volunteered his time and equipment to work the donated compost evenly through the areas and into the ground.
Farm to Table
During the school year, ag students were able to grow cucumbers that were shared with the culinary classes taught by Mike Fisher, whose students incorporated them into dishes created for the class. Countless donations of plants from Sabor Farms, trays to start plants from seed from iHort, and help from Chris Brigantino to start the tomatoes and peppers that are still producing in the greenhouse were provided throughout the year.
While I was humbled and honored to be awarded the Star Administration Award for the Santa Clara FFA Section, based on a nomination from Hollister FFA, I am so proud of the way our agriculture teachers, students, and community supporters represent the strong agricultural roots that bind our community together. We have a program that makes a difference in students’ lives by developing their leadership skills and setting them on a path for career success.
Despite the challenges we all face during these unprecedented times, San Benito High School’s agriculture program reminds us that every day is a great day to be a Baler!
San Benito High School Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum