CTE foundation webinar

Let it grow — Geyserville New Tech Academy senior Maria Camacho discussed her career technical education (CTE) class project, an aeroponic garden, during the latest webinar in a series that focuses on the success of CTE courses and how they can help shape a student's future.

It’s career technical education (CTE) awareness month and local CTE organizations and schools are celebrating with a series of webinars hosted by the Sonoma County CTE Foundation highlighting the success of students in the program and how it shapes and aids students’ futures and their career.

CTE is an education approach designed to prepare students for a variety of careers in healthcare, agriculture, engineering, manufacturing, arts, media, entertainment and others.

The second webinar in the series, which was hosted by CTE Foundation Board Member Stephen Jackson, was held on Feb. 11 and featured a panel of Sonoma County high school students who discussed their most recent CTE class projects and answered questions about the program.

Representing north Sonoma County and Geyserville in the panel was Maria Camacho, a senior at Geyserville New Tech Academy.

Camacho has an interest in agriculture and aeroponics and has taken construction, agriculture, aeroponics and robotics CTE courses.

While distance learning may have put a damper on some hands-on learning activities Camacho, through her CTE project, was able to use aeroponics to grow herbs at home.

“The most current project that I’ve been working on is an aero garden that I got from my teacher that runs the CTE classes. I grew basil and cherry tomatoes and had to make sure it got water and had all of the nutrients it needed,” Camacho said.

She said the most exciting part of the project was discovering that she actually really enjoyed it and found that she has a passion for agriculture and aeroponics.

“It’s actually very easy and you get to learn more about the better things in the world such as with the aerogarden you don’t need pesticides and the soil doesn’t exactly have to be like the temperature outside,” Camacho said.

In addition to creating her garden, Camacho also said it was also fun being able to use different machines to build tables and benches in her agriculture construction class.

In terms of what the most challenging aspect of the project was, Camacho said there weren’t too many challenging parts, but she did have to consistently make sure the plants were watered and maintained properly. 

 Camacho said the biggest thing she’s learned about herself while doing this project is that it’s easier for her to garden at home versus at school.

“At school when I took the ag construction class, I’d have a hard time maintaining my plants, so I learned that it (aeroponics) can be simple and easy instead of worrying about the other plants if they were growing outside,” she said.

Camacho said she also learned specific skills such as problem-solving skills, and math and communication skills that can be applied to real world examples.

After experiencing several different CTE courses in her field of interest and completing an internship, Camacho said she’s now interested in a career in agriculture.  

When asked by Jackson what she would say to students who might be interested in CTE, Camacho said it is definitely a good way to explore different career paths, especially if you’re not sure what you want to study in college or do after high school.

The next session in the CTE webinar series will feature Rancho Cotate High School shop teacher Cole Smith, the winner of the 2020 Tony Crabb Spark Leadership Award. 

According to a CTE Foundation press release, “The award was established in 2019 by CTE Foundation to acknowledge individuals in the community who are inspiring change in our educational system and have a strong connection to career technical education whether as a leader, advocate, fundraiser or educator.”

The webinar with Cole will take place Feb. 18 at noon via Zoom.

The final webinar in the series will take place Feb. 25 at noon and will feature a discussion with local businesses on how local industries can support CTE and students who are interested in certain career paths.

Participating speakers for the Feb. 25 event include: Hamish Gray, Keysight Technologies; Will Seppi, Costeaux French Bakery; Robin Bartholow, North Coast Builders Exchange; and Dan Voit, Blentech.

About the Sonoma County CTE Foundation

The Sonoma County CTE Foundation aims to innovate the education-to-career experience to strengthen economic development and student achievement by expanding and enhancing CTE programs throughout the county. The foundation also provides grants to schools for CTE class kits and supplies.

To learn more about the CTE Foundation, visit: https://ctesonomacounty.org/.

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