Ag education paying off at Atwater High School

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) -- A North Valley high school is making its mark around the country for its Ag education.

It may be Friday at Atwater High School, but these students are captivated by the plants grown at their very own school. Ag Department Chair Dave Gossman says Atwater is doing big things.

"Just this last year, Atwater High School became the largest single high school agriculture program in the nation, and it's something we took a lot of pride in," said Gossman.

The program also recently earned the top honor in the state as well as the western region. Of the 1800 students at Atwater, at least half enrolled in at least one Ag class.

"The amazing thing about our Ag program is most of our students come from within the city limits," said Atwater High School Principal Alan Peterson.

Students like senior Mikala Navarro, who has been in classes and the Future Farmers of America for all four years.

"Before I was pretty shy," said Navarro. "I could talk in front of people, but my face would turn really red and I was really embarrassed, but now I can stand up in front of an assembly at the whole school and not even drop a beat and I really love that. I got to learn about agriculture."

Her dream is to become an Ag teacher and inspire other young minds. The program is partially funded by the state, and just this year, Atwater rallied to keep that intact.

"The state made an investment, it's an incentive for schools and districts to maintain and grow Ag programs," said Gossman.

Staff members say they're seeing great results from the students, who are more engaged in hands-on learning.

"I think it reflects really agriculture education and the proven commodity it has in getting kids toward personal growth, academic success and career exploration," said Gossman.

That Ag education has definitely paid off at Atwater High School. In fact, three state championship teams will move on to the national FFA championships in Kentucky in November.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.