There were two things that stood out for Danielle Diele in her senior year at Golden Valley High School in 2013-14: her busy schedule and the joy she got from her involvement with the Future Farmers of America (FFA).
In high school, Danielle enjoyed swimming and water polo, her AP (advanced placement) classes, and a competitive atmosphere.
“I always felt challenged by a rather busy schedule,” she said. “And that kept me striving for more.”
In spite of a hectic calendar, there was always time for FFA in high school. She served as an officer in her chapter for three years.
In her senior year, she served as Miss Merced County. She and some school friends started Cinderella’s Closet providing over two-hundred prom dresses for other young ladies in the community. The Closet was handed down to younger classmates and is now in a third year of operation.
Upon graduation from Golden Valley in 2014, Danielle headed to college at California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo. She joined the local FFA chapter there.
Over 81,000 Californians are members of FFA, making it the largest concentration of future farmers anywhere in the United States. We know them by those distinctive dark blue jackets they wear. FFA is a big part of County fairs all over the state including the Merced County Fair. Having raised a market hog for three years at the Fair, Danielle knows this well.
In April 2015, she was elected to the post of State Reporter for the California Association, FFA. The post involves more than three-hundred days of travel annually. She has taken one year off from her studies at Cal Poly to devote herself fully to the FFA post.
“We finish our spring semesters, and then move into the FFA Center in June,” she said. “From there, we go on countless industry tours and meet with industry leaders, represent FFA and Career Technical Education as we meet with many legislators, as well as the California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, and the United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Krysta Hardin.”
Another big part of Danielle’s official duties center around Chapter visits throughout the state. “We meet with an FFA Chapter and stay one night with a Chapter Member,” she says. “The next morning, we go to school with the member, and teach three leadership workshops.” Chapter visits generally run from September through January, averaging about four schools per week.
Danielle’s official role as State Reporter brought her back to Merced where she spoke before the annual Merced County Office of Education Report Luncheon held February 25th(a second luncheon for western Merced County was held a day later in Los Banos). In Merced, Danielle spoke before a group of three hundred educators, legislative staff, elected officials, and business leaders. Her message before the group attending at Yosemite Church in Merced focused on Career Technical Education (CTE).
“Career Technical Education values critical thinking, problem-solving, and a Learn-By-Doing approach,” she told the group. "Higher level high school courses are the knowledge, and Career Technical Education is the application of that knowledge."
She told the Merced group about the diversity of farming she’s seen from the vantage point of her statewide role within FFA. She has toured large agriculture enterprises such as Foster Farms in Livingston, met farmers from around the world at the World Ag Expo in Tulare County, and has met many farm families all over the state. She shared a story with her Merced audience about staying with a small farm family. The mother of this family offered her the only bedroom in the house with a mattress.
“My perspective has changed immensely this last year,” she said to me via email response to my questions. “I have seen the struggles that people of all kinds have, and I am grateful that each home welcomed me with open arms, no matter the situation.”
Danielle Diele, California FFA Leadership Board-State Reporter.Picture: www.calaged.org)
Danielle returns to her full-time student status after her term as State Reporter ends later in the spring. She plans to attend graduate school after finishing the undergraduate degree.
She wants to become an Agricultural Communicator. Her passion and desire is to advocate for the agricultural industry.
She has had an incredible opportunity representing FFA throughout California. She says she has grown as a person.
“There is no such thing as a 'typical' day serving as a State FFA Officer,” she said.