OHS: Pos­i­tive Growth From The Ground Up

The Oakdale Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By TERESA HAM­MOND tham­mond@oak­dale­leader.com

The Oak­dale High School Ag pro­gram has been get­ting a bit more at­ten­tion as of late. While for the stu­dents privy to the pro­gram dur­ing the past hand­ful of years, the no­to­ri­ety comes hon­estly and earned – the pro­gram growth seems im­mi­nent. Most es­pe­cially so as Oak­dale Joint Uni­fied com­pletes Phase 1 of the Oak­dale School Farm, sit­u­ated on the north­west end of town.

It’s an ad­di­tion to the Ag pro­gram that will serve as host lo­ca­tion for the first time to the Oak­dale High school FFA Wel­come Bar­be­cue, set for this evening, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 30 be­gin­ning at 6 p.m.

The Oak­dale School Farm, how­ever, isn’t the only dis­trict in­vest­ment made re­cently to both grow and im­prove the OHS Ag pro­gram. Ag teach­ers Grace To­bias and Matthew Mar­shall are the new­est faces added to the Ag class­rooms on the high school cam­pus, with an ex­cite­ment that can only be con­ta­gious as the year pro­gresses.

The 2017-18 school year marks the first year for Mar­shall at OHS, yet his fourth year teach­ing Ag at the high school level.

“I was ex­tremely in­volved with FFA,” Mar­shall said, shar­ing that he first be­came in­volved with Ag as a stu­dent his fresh­man year at Tur­lock High School.

Mar­shall went on to com­plete his Bach­e­lors of Ag Sci­ence at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

“FFA kind of gave me a ca­reer,” he said, not­ing his cur­rent path and pas­sion as an Agri­cul­ture teacher. Mar­shall cur­rently teaches Fresh­man Ag Sci­ence, In­tro to Ag Me­chan­ics and Ag

Weld­ing. As a first year OHS teacher, he spent much of his sum­mer get­ting to know OHS FFA stu­dents by way of prep and par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Stanis­laus County Fair. An event, which as he re­calls it, shows his pride and en­thu­si­asm with the school’s suc­cess this past sum­mer.

“There are no lim­i­ta­tions,” he said of the pro­gram. “Our cir­cles are grow­ing so much.

“The fresh­men are on fire,” he added of the new­est mem­bers of the OHS stu­dent body, “and ex­cited to get in­volved with the school farm. I think our num­bers will con­tinue to grow.”

Mar­shall and To­bias are two of the four Ag teach­ers at OHS. Each of the two es­ti­mated their cur­rent stu­dent count as ap­prox­i­mately 150 stu­dents each.

Now in her sec­ond year and no longer the ‘new­est’ of the depart­ment, To­bias is equally ex­cited for the com­ing year and the ad­di­tion of the school farm. The UC Davis grad­u­ate of An­i­mal Sci­ence teaches three sec­tions of Ag and Soil Chem­istry, a class newly in­tro­duced to the OHS cam­pus in 2016.

“I re­ally do love sci­ence, so Ag ed­u­ca­tion was kind of the per­fect fit for me,” she said.

Un­like Mar­shall, To­bias does not have a stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence steeped in FFA. She does, how­ever, have a fa­ther who worked as a large an­i­mal vet and an up­bring­ing in Hol­lis­ter, Cal­i­for­nia.

“One of the rea­sons I fo­cused on this as the job that I wanted was re­ally ul­ti­mately, that Oak­dale was the kind of town I wanted to be in,” she said. “It’s the kind of town I was from.”

The OHS Ag Sci­ence teacher po­si­tion, To­bias shared, was the only one she ap­plied for. That’s how cer­tain she was of the com­mu­nity, as well as the job she wanted.

“The com­mu­nity wants this pro­gram to be suc­cess­ful,” she noted from her re­search and first year on staff. “They want ev­ery sin­gle kid on this cam­pus to be suc­cess­ful, whether it’s in Ag, in the other CTE pro­grams, in sports. They will go out of their way to see it hap­pen, which I think ... why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?”

To­bias con­tin­ued shar­ing that in her sec­ond year, cer­tain ar­eas of her pro­gram have been tweaked to both ac­com­mo­date and im­prove the of­fer­ings to the stu­dents she is teach­ing. She noted suc­cess, as well as im­prove­ment, as an “ex­pec­ta­tion.”

“Let’s rise to the oc­ca­sion,” she said. “Let’s make it hap­pen. Go­ing with that mind­set we’re go­ing to be big­ger, we’re go­ing to be bet­ter and we’re just go­ing to keep mov­ing and ex­pand­ing. I think it’s awe­some.”

TERESA HAM­MOND/THE LEADER

New­est teach­ers to the agri­cul­tural wing of Oak­dale High School, Cal Poly alum Matthew Mar­shall, left, and UC Davis Ag­gie Grace To­bias are ex­cited for the com­ing year and the near and dis­tant fu­ture of OHS’s ever grow­ing ag pro­gram.

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