Written by Mary Allen, Agricultural Communication Student
Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences (CAFES) prides itself on renowned faculty members who help promote Cal Poly’s motto of Learn by Doing in and out of the classroom. Recently, CAFES gained two new faculty members in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department, Clemente Ayon and Erin Gorter. After interviewing Mr. Clemente Ayon, I found he is no exception to Cal Poly’s high standard. Read our interview below to see for yourself why the Agricultural Education and Communication Department is lucky to have Mr. Ayon as a part of their faculty.
How did you originally become involved in Agriculture?
Mr. Ayon: My Dad made his living as a farmer and I wanted to follow his path in Agriculture. However, my real passion for the industry began in my Santa Maria High School FFA chapter. There I showed everything including cattle, hogs, turkeys, and sheep. I learned many lessons that have helped me throughout my life.
Where did you go to college?
Mr. Ayon: I got my degree in Crop Science at Cal Poly. I chose this because my dad was a farmer and I wanted to help him. Growing up in Santa Maria, we farmed strawberries, sugar peas, broccoli, potatoes and more.
What interested you in student teaching?
Mr. Ayon: My FFA agriculture teacher in high school made me want to. After my undergraduate, I got my credential, which then led to a Masters in Agricultural Education at Cal Poly.
How did you come to work at Cal Poly.
Mr. Ayon: After student teaching, I got a job at Santa Maria High School in 2000 as one of their now nine agriculture teachers. After 15 years, I still enjoy teaching there today. This year we have over 50 students showing lambs in my group. When I saw that Cal Poly had an opening, I applied. They wanted me, so now I am a teacher-in-residence at Cal Poly — while still being employed by the school district of Santa Maria. I love being back here; now as a faculty member. It is a yearly deal with the school district, but I hope to be here as long as I can.
What classes do you currently teach?
Mr. Ayon: I teach ASCI 232, which teaches basic handling of livestock, introductory selection of livestock, preliminary feed identification and processing as well as the health care of the animals. This is a fun class. I also teacher Agricultural Education 220. This class prepares workshops for the State FFA leadership conference in Fresno. Finally, I teach Agricultural Education 350, which is an observation of skills and techniques of future Agriculture teachers.
Since teaching at Cal Poly, what has been one of your most memorable experiences?
Mr. Ayon: Being able to work with student teachers and observing them in their programs and experiences has been very memorable so far.
How does teaching college students compare to high school students?
Mr. Ayon: I have no discipline problems with the college students. Working with students who want to learn and are more goal oriented is a huge difference from high school, which has less students with those qualities. See with high school students, you are teaching them how to be successful, whereas at Cal Poly, the students are already successful.
Outside of your work, what are some of your favorite things to do?
Mr. Ayon: Be with my family. I have a six year old girl, Maeli and a five month old son, Maddox. My lovely wife also has her teaching credential. They keep me busy. I also have enjoyed living in Nipomo at the Del Peterson Ranch for the past 20 years. We have about 100 sheep on our 12 acres, which I help my old Agriculture teacher operate. It is not uncommon to see me out in the barn in the wee hours of the night caring and processing the new born lambs.
What are your plans now and beyond?
Mr. Ayon: Stay in Nipomo and keep working at Cal Poly and at Santa Maria highs school. Being at Cal Poly is giving me the opportunity to explore if I want to pursue a Ph.D. and teach at the college level. If I do, then I will go out of state for my doctorate. However, I like where I am right now.
As you can see, Mr. Ayon is not only very experienced in agriculture – but has a passion for it. Cal Poly is thankful to have him back as faculty in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department. Welcome back to Cal Poly!