On Friday, October 31, 2014 two Colusa County Ag Teachers will be awarded Honorary American FFA Degrees at the 87th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
Pierce High School Ag Shop Teacher, Cindy Rohde; and former Princeton High School Agriculture Teacher, Andy Ferrendelli will receive the organizations highest honor.
Both Ferrendelli and Rohde are nominated for the award on behalf of their accomplishments in creating high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success.
A photograph hangs on the wall of a young child with a Red Ryder wagon tipped on its side; the child playfully fixing a tire; in the background the child’s father is working beneath a car.
“That is me,” said Rohde, “It is my favorite picture, even at a young age I liked fixing things.”
26 years ago, Rohde began her teaching career at Pierce High School.
“I always knew I wanted to work in agriculture,” said Rohde, “I just had no idea that I would be a teacher.”
Though Rohde’s mother, a teacher herself, knew that she possessed the teaching ability.
“My mom always said I would be a teacher,” said Rohde.
It wasn’t until Rohde was working on a race care at Sierra High School when the auto body teacher approached her.
“He said, why don’t you become a shop teacher? You love kids, and you love Ag!” said Rohde.
In 1988, Rohde received her teaching credentials and searched for a job.
“I found that Pierce High School was looking for a shop teacher and I decided to give it a try,” said Rohde, “My Mom made the trip with me and took a tour of the town during my interview.”
Little did Rohde know, her mother would once again make a claim to her future.
“When I got done with the interview, my Mom said ‘this is your job,’” said Rohde, “she fell in love with the town.”
Rohde was the top choice from the list of candidates and Board Member, Donald Pearit reminded her of his choice.
“Every time I would see Mr. Pearit; he would say ‘remember I hired you!’,” said Rohde.
Rohde was hired as Pierce High School’s Ag Mechanics Instructor.
“I love my job,” said Rohde.
For Rohde, working with her students and watching her students succeed is the favorite part of her job.
“I love seeing the kid’s say they cannot do something, then watch them learn and see that they can,” said Rohde.
Rohde was dedicated to her students, often giving up her weekends, after school hours, and holidays to allow her students to complete their projects or get caught up on missed work.
Some of Rohde’s accomplishments include participation in the new Agricultural Mechanics Complex Building at Pierce High School, coaching a successful small engines team – winning state two times, and the development of the Arbuckle FFA Field Day.
“The Arbuckle FFA Field Day has been my favorite part,” said Rohde.
The Arbuckle FFA Field Day was the first Career Development Experience program to be hosted and organized by High School Students – a very successful one at best.
“I love hearing all the complements the kids get,” said Rohde, “it gives them a real sense of accomplishment.”
In February of 2014, the Arbuckle FFA Field Day hosted over 82 Schools State Wide, competing in over 19 career development categories.
“There was over 1,000 kids in blue corduroy jackets here at the school,” said Rohde, “It was amazing sight. We fed over 1,200 students; teachers and volunteers combined.”
In addition to her dedication to her students locally, Rohde served as the California Ag Teachers Association President for 2013-2014. As term president, she rallied support for saving the Ag Incentive Grant with the onset of Governor Brown’s Budget Cuts.
“I was able to visit all the different regions and their schools and see what they were each doing,” said Rohde, “It was very rewarding.”
Rohde continues to teach her students at Pierce High School.
Retired from teaching, Ferrendelli no competes in BBQ Competitions and helps run small-town eatery and catering business co-owned with his wife.
“31 years was enough,” said Ferrendelli, “I am moving on to a new chapter in my life and its pretty darn exciting.”
In 1983, Ferrendelli started his teaching career at Princeton High School where he taught Agricultural Science and Ag Mechanics.
“I enjoyed working with the students,” said Ferrendelli, “they made teaching fun and made me want to come to teach every single day.”
Through Ferrendelli’s efforts, he was able to build the first Agricultural Science Lab in the state at Princeton High School.
“It was pretty high tech in its day,” said Ferrendelli.
Ferrendelli worked with many of his students on welding projects that sold successfully at the Colusa County Fair, and one he purchased himself.
“One of my students built Big Blue our BBQ here at the restaurant,” said Ferrendelli.
During his tenure with the Princeton Unified School District, Ferrendelli was the Student Body Advisor, Class Advisor and helped bring the school into the digital age.
“I will miss the kids,” said Ferrendelli.
Ferrendelli also serves as the town’s fire chief and helps organize the annual Portuguese picnic.