■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
The Southern Regional California Agriculture Teachers’ Association has selected John Campbell, Hemet West Valley High School’s agriculture teacher, as the Outstanding Agriculture Mechanics Teacher for the 2016-17 school year.
Campbell established West Valley’s Agriculture Program after joining the West Valley team five years ago. He said he loved the challenge of creating the program and measuring its progress. Campbell’s passion for agriculture enabled him to extend the program and the school now offers multiple courses, including Agriculture Biology I, Agriculture Chemistry I, Agriculture Mechanics I and Agriculture Mechanics II.
The classes provide classroom study, hands-on training, and utilizes materials and activities designed by the National Future Farmers of America (FFA). Aside from learning about agriculture, students gain experience in public speaking, organization, community service and leadership through FFA activities.
Students can apply their gained skills to a project that allows them to learn more about a specific area of agriculture. A minimum of 30 hours outside of class is spent on project work, including a photo portfolio and a summary about what they learned throughout the process.
A few examples of student projects include starting a produce business, experimenting with the effectiveness of different fishing lures, creating a series of floral arrangements, volunteering and job shadowing someone in the field of agriculture.
“Students respect his passion and joy for what he does,” said West Valley Principal Dr. Janice Jones. She added that Campbell has an “amazing ability to relate and connect with his students,” and former students often reach out to him to thank him for his compassion.
“I plan to continue expanding the program,” said Campbell, who plans on opening a farm store, where students can show and sell what they have grown and worked hard for. He said his goal is to ensure his students are successful, and helping them attain a certificate at the end of their course is the first step.