Since helping to open Liberty Ranch High School in 2009, Mandy Garner has worked to bridge the gap between the agriculture department and the school as a whole, according to her peers.
For this work and other contributions, Garner is in the running for a prestigious statewide award.
Last fall, she was nominated the Star Sectional FFA Adviser for the Sacramento section, which covers the greater Sacramento area. From there, her application was reviewed against the other sectional winners throughout the Central Region, which covers Sacramento to Merced.
This week she learned that she has been selected as the Star Regional Adviser and will now interview at the State FFA Convention next month against the other five regional winners from around California in the hopes of being named Star State Adviser.
Among the criteria for being chosen is how involved the teacher is in leadership activities and contributions made to education, according to the state FFA website.
Garner was one of the original teachers to move from Galt High to Liberty Ranch when the school opened. Fellow teacher Bryan Dodson said she worked hard to build the new high school's agriculture program, creating partnerships with community supporters and parents, and she was instrumental in the construction of the school's ag building.
Since then, the department has increased from two full-time teachers to five, and from approximately 150 students to more than 550.
As its chair, Garner guides the program in all decisions, including courses, curriculum and budgeting. She also teaches freshmen and is a master at getting students involved and making them feel welcome in the ag program, Dodson said.
She teaches floriculture, advanced floral design, agriculture biology, agriculture leadership, and elements and principles of design, and coaches a floriculture team that contends every year for the state title. In addition, she coaches public speakers and helps students with leadership and personal development training.
Most recently, she has been writing grants to secure funds for a community garden she initiated. This program, which partners with a third-grade class in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, will utilize the campus' greenhouse and raised planter beds to grow fresh produce, which will then be donated to local food banks and homeless shelters.
"Not only is Mandy very well respected and admired in our department, but most on campus see her as a leader of our school," Dodson said.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org