Hollister High School FFA members work on Sustainable Agriculture projects in class. Photo courtesy of Hollister High School

The Hollister Agricultural and FFA (Future Farmers of America) program has been making waves with its outstanding achievements, student recognition and commitment to agricultural education and sustainability. The program’s success can be attributed to the dedication of its educators, the collaboration with the community and the passion of its students to make a difference in the agricultural industry. 

Emily Herzog, an FFA advisor, expressed her pride in the student recognition achieved at the state level for their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects through proficiencies. Over the past four years, the program has consistently produced state winners who have gone on to become national finalists. 

Currently, there are two winners awaiting the announcement of their status as national finalists, a testament to the students’ hard work and dedication to their projects. 

The Hollister FFA program boasts impressive statistics, with a current enrollment of 670 students across five Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathways, guided by four experienced agriculture teachers. These pathways cover a wide range of agricultural disciplines, including Ag Mechanics with college credit and OSHA certification; Animal Science with college credit; Ornamental Horticulture, Plant & Soil Science; and Agriscience. 

Additionally, the program envisions future possibilities, such as offering ag business and natural resources pathways and expanding college credit courses within the current offerings. 

The program takes pride in providing ample opportunities for work-based learning, including college and industry tours, industry certifications such as OSHA Safety and internships. These practical experiences empower students to connect their classroom learning to real-world industry opportunities, enhancing their knowledge and skill sets.

Grace Erickson, another FFA advisor at Hollister High, emphasized the importance of cooperation and partnership among faculty, administration, students, families and community members. It is this collective effort that has helped build and shape the Hollister agriculture and FFA program into what they are today, with the potential for even greater development in the future. 

Some of Hollister High School’s FFA members are pictured at the San Benito County fair earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Hollister High School

“In a region with deep agricultural roots, Hollister’s FFA program stands as a beacon of progress, incorporating precision farming and innovative sustainability practices,” said Claire Grissom, San Benito High School District’s Coordinator of College and Career Readiness. 

The program’s commitment to sustainable agricultural practices not only conserves water and increases efficiency, but also enhances profitability, contributing to a notable boost in crop values and the industry’s economic impact over the last decade. 

Chelsi Soares, a third advisor and instructor in the program, praised the combined efforts of students, advisory members and the community that have contributed to the program’s resounding success. Recognizing that the program’s achievements wouldn’t be possible without the support of the entire community, Soares expressed gratitude for their commitment to the program’s ongoing growth and success. 

Grissom, an instrumental force behind the program’s success, highlighted Hollister High School’s Agricultural and FFA program as the flagship CTE program, earning it a No. 15 ranking in California for top FFA programs. 

The four dedicated instructors work tirelessly alongside industry partners, families and the administration to create limitless opportunities for students in bridging the gap between classroom learning and the agricultural industry. 

“With the Central Coast’s strong sense of stewardship for its natural assets, advancing sustainability remains a key focus for the Hollister FFA program,” Grissom noted. “By nurturing agricultural leaders and sustainability innovators, the program ensures that the land will continue to flourish and provide for future generations, solidifying its place as a vital force in shaping the future of agriculture.”

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