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California FFA program at risk of major funding cuts - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

California FFA program at risk of major funding cuts

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California Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget could eliminate millions of dollars in funding for programs like Future Farmers of America (FFA).

FFA members said that could negatively impact more than a thousand members in Santa Maria alone.

For many students here on the Central Coast, FFA has been a life changing and enriching experience.

"We learn how to be professionals students, have public speaking skills, and it has personally impacted me to find my future career, which is going into agriculture business," said Adriana Arias, FFA member and junior at Santa Maria High School.

But without the appropriate funding, FFA and many other career programs throughout the state could be in jeopardy.

The governor's proposed budget would relocate the funding and eliminate $15 million from Career Technical Education programs.

"It really honestly hurt that our governor, Jerry Brown, is considering eliminating CTE funding. The importance of CTE programs is vital to not only our society but also to our economy," said Edgar Hernandez, FFA member and senior at Santa Maria High School.

The state's FFA program would lose $250,000 that supports numerous conferences meant to help students develop their leadership skills.

"Anytime students can develop their leadership and find out what their true potential is, is a good thing. You eliminate conferences, kids don't have things to do, they get into trouble," said Marc DeBernardi, agriculture teacher at Santa Maria High School.

DeBernardi said he and many other supporters of agriculture have expressed their concerns about this proposal to their local legislators.

"Letting them know how important career technical student organizations are, and letting them know we don't just want the classrooms, we want these organizations where the future leaders are developed," DeBernardi said.

Supporters added that they hope the governor's proposal will be rejected as there are no other funds available to support activities like FFA.

The Education Finance Subcommittee will begin voting on the budget proposals on June 23.

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