December Grower Spotlight of the Month - Alex Flores of Future Farmers of America - Ventura County Agricultural Education
Santa Paula: “You need to meet Alex Flores!” was proclaimed to me at least a half dozen times when the Ventura County agricultural community learned about SEEAG’s agricultural education endeavors. That’s because Alex has been deeply embedded in the ag education scene here for many years. Alex, after graduating from Cal Poly, worked as an ag teacher in Monterey, California. He then made his way to Ventura County and began his career as an agriculture teacher at Santa Paula High School (SPHS) over 10 years ago during the 2003-2004 school year.
Alex’s predecessor at SPHS, Bob Young, had just retired and had been teaching agriculture for years. Alex was a young Cal Poly graduate who had some big shoes to fill.
Greta Strautman, SEEAG’s Education Coordinator, was a senior when Alex started teaching at SPHS and she remembers Alex’s enthusiasm and fresh perspective. “He was in his thirties back then with new ideas and he really wanted the kids to work and be involved in the community in which they lived,” Greta explained.
We are very lucky to have him. Alex is also the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Advisor on SPHS’s campus, which keeps him incredibly busy. But he seems to enjoy every minute of it. Alex is making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.
I will never forget one of the first times I met Alex. He was holding a mic at an ag education event at the Santa Paula Ag Museum. He made an announcement about how he would be bringing his students to four farms during Ventura County Farm Day and thanked me. He made me feel proud and I thought, “what a nice gentleman.”
I now see Alex everywhere–everywhere the words “agriculture” and “education” are discussed together that is. For instance, the President of Ventura College, Dr. Greg Gillespie, is diligently trying to start an Agricultural Education/Science Department at the college, so he brought all the local stakeholders together for an agricultural education summit. During the summit it was absolutely wonderful to hear from Alex that the FFA in Santa Paula had very recently received a very large donation, over $700,000, from Dorcas H. McFarlane to help build an ag education center. This center will contain orchards, row crops, nurseries, livestock pastures and barns. Alex assured Greta and me that elementary school children would be invited to use the center. This was music to our ears!
The center will hopefully be an ag education learning hub and destination for students across Ventura County, especially those interested in animal husbandry and raising livestock. Alex is clearly very excited about the new farm. As he gave Greta and me a tour in his new pickup truck, he enthusiastically pointed out where he plans to put all the center’s amazing components. He also is aware he has a lot of work cut out for him. That hard work – community service, education, responsibility, respect for animals, and stewardship of the land – are all lessons he teaches his students, and lessons that Alex follows himself. He practices what he preaches.
That’s why SEEAG is thrilled to be collaborating with him at our upcoming Kids-to-Farms Benefit Brunch on Sunday, April 17th. We can’t wait to work with FFA, a wonderful organization that clearly aligns with SEEAG’s mission of cultivating our future generations to continue our local agricultural legacy.
Learn more about FFA here.