The Wasco FFA Chapter is a pathway to success for those students interested in agriculture. It is a youth leadership organization rooted in the industry, benefitting participating students at Wasco High School from all it offers.
"Our Wasco ag program is special because we are really focused on hands-on experience. We have a family structure and we build on student interest," Anthony Farao, an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor explained.
There is a leadership component where students learn life skills, how to conduct themselves as a professional, work with others and develop their public speaking skills.
FFA curriculum includes a supervised agriculture experience, where students carry out independent study projects.
Some raise livestock on campus or at home, grow and sell plants, work in the fields, have their own business mowing lawns,or work in an office related to the agriculture business. Others are farm hands working at a cattle, goat or sheep ranch.
Projects are acceptable as long as they have something to do with agriculture, giving the students real-world experience.
The classroom curriculum is key to the program. Students can choose one of three pathways: animal science, plant science and ag mechanics.
There are also two other pathways on the nontraditional side, in partnership with the WACP Wonderful Academy, where the focus is on ag business and ag mechanics.
Within those pathways, there are many diverse classes students can take to build their ag knowledge.
"It prepares them for life because as students take advantage of ag education and they really put themselves in a place to grow, I think it can change their life," said Farao.
"Some students would have never gone to college or found a career or a passion for something otherwise. It really can change the trajectory of their lives."
In response to the cancellation of the onsite Kern County Fair due to covid, FFA leadership working in collaboration with administration and community support to establish the Charles Craig Classic in 2020.
It was named after an agriculture teacher who worked at WHS for many years and made a tremendous impact on the students and in the community.
"The Classic is a livestock show to give students another opportunity to be in the ring and have their animals and skills judged by another person before they compete at the Kern County Fair," said Department Chair Denise Morales.
Morales has been with the FFA program at Wasco High School for the last 25 years.
"I have taught at four schools, and far and away, the students here are the best on the planet. I tell them that all the time. Both of my children are products of this program."
The Classic incorporates two classes.
The first class is where the quality of the animal is assessed. "It is kind of a body-building competition but for animals," said Farao.
The second class is showmanship and is judged on how well students demonstrate their knowledge and ability to show the muscle of that animal.
The Classic showcases students from North Kern County, including Wasco, Taft, Delano, McFarland and Shafter.
"It has been amazing with the quality and character of our students. Not only our students but students from all of the other programs that come to our school," said Farao.
The three-day event will take place on Sept. 9, 10 and 11 at the Wasco High School District farm.
"We are looking forward to this event. It's exciting to see the community support our students while they demonstrate their skills and win awards.
For more information about the Charles Craig Classic, visit wascoffa.com/ccc.