BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Bakersfield High agriculture teacher Jennifer Wilke was honored at the recent Future Farmers’ of America’s national conference in Indianapolis.
Wilke was awarded the FFA’s distinguished Honorary American Degree (HAD). This honor is bestowed on teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate students to strive for success, explained Bakersfield High Principal David Reese.
“The Honorary American Degree is only awarded to teachers that have developed outstanding and long term agriculture programs,” said Reese.
“Only 57 teachers received the HAD this year out of more than 11,000 teachers nationwide,” Reese noted. “Only five teachers from California received the award and that is out of more than 700 agriculture teachers statewide,” he added.
About 300 students participate in the Bakersfield High Agriculture program which includes the school’s FFA program. This is Wilke’s 14th year leading the program founded in 1905. Wilke said the BHS ag program is unique, stressing achievement through numerous career pathways, including success in GATE and college prep classes, hands on learning through vocational classes;, leadership development through participation in FFA, and real life experiences intheir work with their ag projects. Ag projects vary and include landscape maintenance, aquaculture, floral design, welding, woodworking, ornamental horticulture, viticulture, crop production, agri-science, and livestock.
“It is the goal of our program to produce competent, mature and experienced individuals to enter all walks of life,” Wilke said.
A number of Wilke’s students have achieved success at the regional, state and national levels. Bakersfield High student Analiese Scrivano was, in 2011, a national finalist for the FFA’s American Degree in the Agri-Science competition. Another BHS ag student, Samantha Williams was in 2007 a state and national winner in the FFA’s Ag Sales Proficiency Award Area. Williams was also the FFA’s state and national winner in the Agri-Entrepreneur competition sponsored by the USDA in 2006.