As the 2016 school year begins, Sonoma County has five new agriculture instructors. Two of the FFA advisors are continuing their careers having previously taught at Sonoma County schools, two advisors are new to teaching bringing professional experience from the Sonoma County agriculture industry and one advisor from the Central Valley will begin his first year teaching in Sonoma County.
Jennifer Clark is the new El Molino High School ag teacher and Forestville FFA advisor. She grew up in Sonoma, California and graduated from Sonoma Valley High School. She was an active participant of both Sonoma Valley 4-H and Sonoma FFA where she raised market lambs and steers.
After graduating from high school, she attended the Santa Rosa Junior College then transferred to California State University, Chico. She graduated from Chico State with a Bachelor of Science degree in both Ag Education and Animal Science in 2011 and also earned her teaching credential at Chico State.
Upon graduating, she was able to gain practical experience and knowledge of the agriculture industry by working for several local companies before joining El Molino. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, her two dogs, doing yard work and traveling.
Cara Parlato received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness, with an emphasis in marketing and sales, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2006. She has been part of the Sonoma and Marin agricultural communities for the past ten years. Most recently, Cara was the exhibits representative at the Sonoma-Marin Fair and Events Center and has worked for Star Route Farms of Bolinas for the past eight years.
Enjoying working with youth, planning and organizing numerous Petaluma Youth Ag Days, and coaching softball lead Cara to pursue her teaching credential that she recently obtained from Sonoma State University. She looks forward to being a FFA advisor, an agriculture teacher and a member of the Petaluma High School staff.
Cara brings with her experience working with local farms, a sustainable perspective, and an overall enthusiasm for Sonoma County agriculture.
Victor Evans – Elsie Allen FFA
Victor Evans grew up in Easton, Calif., south of Fresno, where his grandfather raised dairy cattle, his father had a small walnut orchard and his uncle had a vineyard. Although the family now leases their land to other farmers, Evans is still passionate about agriculture and teaching it to the younger generation. After graduating Washington Union High School in 2009 where he was heavily involved in FFA and served as chapter President, Evans went on to attend Reedley College.
Evans studied plant and animal science at Reedley before transferring to Fresno State in 2013. He received his BA from Fresno State in 2015 in Ag Education with an emphasis in mechanics. Evans then student taught at both Clovis East and Atwater High Schools.
Evans is excited to be begin teaching in Sonoma County at Elsie Allen. He said he was attracted to the program because it cares about the students. While at Elsie Allen, Evans hopes to grow the shop program, teaching about the industry and giving students skills to succeed outside the classroom.
Heidi Mickelson – Sebastopol FFA
Heidi Mickelson graduated from Chico State in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science and a minor in Ag Business. She returned to Chico in 2014 to the credential program after being hired by Petaluma High School as a long term substitute.
Mickelson was involved in her FFA chapter at East Nicolas High all four years, and her mother was an ag agriculture instructor for 27 years. Mickelson’s involvement in FFA included holding chapter, sectional and regional officer positions as well as showing beef, sheep and swine. Despite this, Mickelson hadn’t planned to become an agriculture instructor until taking her position at Petaluma High School.
Mickelson feels that being an ag teacher is a good fit; ag is an industry she’s passionate about, and she enjoys being able to educate the youth and connect the dots between farm and fork.
Mickelson is excited to begin the year at Analy High School where she is the sole teacher and advisor. She has plans to grow the program, renovate the farm and help the program make an impact on the community.
Mickelson is actively involved with agriculture outside the classroom. She lives with her husband, Bobby, and son, Weston, in Glen Ellen.
Sarah McMaster – Santa Rosa FFA
Sarah McMaster graduated from St. Helena High School in 2009 before attending Fresno State to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture Education and her teaching credential.
Not having an ag background, McMaster was inspired by her ag teacher, Laura Mendez, to pursue something she didn’t know very much about. McMaster started in FFA by competing in the agri-science fair, and went to nationals after winning at the state level. McMaster fell in love with agriculture after attending the National FFA convention. She said the experience made her want to give back and do the same for generations to come. McMaster had always known she wanted to be a teacher, but her FFA experience is what taught her she wanted to be an ag teacher.
McMaster student taught at Sierra High School as well as Central West High School in Fresno. After graduation and student teaching, McMaster taught at Gilroy High School and El Molino High School. At Santa Rosa High School she is teaching Horticulture/Viticulture, Veterinary Science and Ag Biology.
Sonoma County’s Agriculture Instructors for 2016-2017
Elsie Allen FFA:
Lindsay Swickard, Cynthia Roy, Victor Evans
Kim Arntz, Jake Dunn, Cara Parlato
Santa Rosa FFA:
Dawn Stornetta, Lisa Piehl, Sarah McMaster
Danny Aschwanden, Felicia Rush, Karling Skoglund
Santa Rosa Junior College:
This year, the Santa Rosa Junior College also hired two new ag instructors. Joel Grogan was hired to run the Plant Science program. Amy Housman was hired to run the Animal Science program. Grogan and Houseman were in the September 2016 issue of the Sonoma-Marin Farm News. Click here to read this article.
For a full list of SRJC staff, visit: