Agricultural Studies Chair Mark Bender receives top state FFA honor

Dr. Mark Bender, Agricultural Studies Department Chair at California State University, Stanislaus, was recently awarded the Honorary California State Future Farmers of America (FFA) Degree at the 2008 California FFA Conference in Fresno.

As the recipient of the highest award bestowed by the California State FFA Association on April 19, Bender was recognized for his lifelong work with high school agriculture students and the FFA, as well as his statewide efforts for agricultural education at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. He has more than 36 years of service in agricultural education, including seven years at CSU Stanislaus as Founding Chair of the Agricultural Studies Department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and was one of only three selected for the statewide honor this year.

"This honor is especially moving because it recognizes lifelong achievement and service to the FFA and is the highest degree bestowed by the California Association FFA," Bender said. "As I have dedicated my life to teaching agriculture and serving young people in high school, community college and university, as well as 4-H, FFA, and community organizations, it is truly an honor to have that effort recognized."

Bender was one of 20 faculty from all over the country recognized in June 2007 in Washington, D.C., as an E. (Kikda) de la Garza Fellow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program (HSINP).

The California Association FFA has a membership of more than 60,000 students and is part of the National FFA, one of the largest youth organizations in the world.