• Agriculture is one of California’s leading industries, and demand for agricultural workers continues to increase throughout California. St. Helena is central to the Napa Valley region. Napa is one of California's smallest, but best-known counties, largely because of its 40,000 acres of vineyards and 280 wineries. Napa County once produced many different crops but today is known for its famous winegrapes and the wine industry at large. The region’s reputation continues to grow as a tourist destination. Napa Valley is visited by as many as 5 million people each year, making it the second most popular tourist destination in California, second only to Disneyland. The Agricultural pathways at SHHS prepare students to work throughout the region in addition to the numerous other agricultural areas of California.

    History of St. Helena High School Ag Department & FFA

    The St. Helena Unified School District offered Agriculture Education from 1941 until 1970. The Administration abolished the program in 1970, at a time when vocational education and agriculture were considered old fashioned and unimportant in public schools, and state budget cuts made it hard to keep special programs in the public schools. In the mid-1990’s, a local group of SHHS alumni from the 60’s and 70’s got together and began to explore the idea of reviving the program in St. Helena. There was an incredible amount of interest and support in the community to bring the program back to SHHS. A committee was formed to raise funds through grants and community donations and to research facility and staffing needs for the rebirth of the program. In 2000, the District and many devoted industry partners renewed their commitment to the Agriculture curriculum by reopening the department at the high school. The revived program started with one teacher and approximately 40 students and has grown to a staff of three and enrollment of over half of the student population each year.

    FFA Mission

    FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agriculture education.

    St. Helena Unified School District Career Technical Education (CTE) Plan

    CTE is recognized by the St. Helena Unified School District as an integral part of the school curriculum. CTE motivates students by engaging them in problem solving and providing them with opportunities for hands-on activities that allow them to apply knowledge and skills. Established links with parents, community organizations, and potential employers in community-based industries, ROP, community colleges and post-secondary programs, and universities enable students to not only apply classroom skills and knowledge but provide opportunities for collaboration with people of the same career interests on a variety of levels. CTE reinforces concepts through practical application. It has been demonstrated that students involved in CTE programs have improved retention and achievement in school as well as improved opportunities for employment. Not all students are college bound, and CTE offers an alternative while providing the opportunity to prepare for college if desired. Programs must be academically rigorous while remaining relevant to the students’ needs and interests. Students must be prepared to apply academic and technical skills in solving real world problems.


    CTE is a vital, progressive, and rigorous part of the total education system that provides students with life skills and prepares them for continuing success in the global economy.


    CTE is an integral part of all students’ education (7-12) with programs that offer strong educational requirements linked with community based experiences leading to industry standard certificates and/or post-secondary preparation. This curriculum will provide resources that ensure students’ success in life and in work.


    • Promote the positive image of Career and Technical Education (CTE)
    • Provide relevant and focused professional development for instructors.
    • Maintain effective partnerships to promote development of a regional and state workforce.
    • Develop and utilize rigorous, progressive, and research-based CTE curricula.
    • Recruit and retain highly qualified CTE teachers and administrators.
    • Increase the academic skills of CTE students.
    • Exceed the requirements of state and federal legislation.
    • Improve articulation with post-secondary education.
    • Enhance and support the use of technology.

    Some Highlights of FFA in St. Helena

    • Livestock enterprises in the areas of Market Hogs, Market Lambs, and Market Goats – raised for auction at the Napa Town & Country Fair, plus County and State Fairs
    • Pumpkin Patch Enterprise and Farm Stand
    • Ag Mechanics Auction and Rib Feed Fundraiser
    • New and improved facilities on the SHHS campus (classrooms, labs, shop, and barn) and Phelps farm (barn and 3 acres for planting crops)
    • Leadership Conferences such as Greenhand, Made for Excellence, Advanced Leadership Academy, and Sacramento Leadership Experience
    • State Leadership Conference in Fresno
    • National FFA Convention Trip in Louisville KT or Indianapolis, IN
    • Leadership Tour of Washington, DC Trip
    • Public Speaking and Career Development competitions throughout the Region/State
    • Scholarships and degree programs

    FFA Activities

    FFA is an intra-curricular, national youth organization, the largest in the world, for all students studying agriculture education. The mission of this organization is to promote and develop student’s potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.

    • Greenhand, Chapter, Sectional, Regional and State Officer Team
    • Degree and Proficiency Awards Ceremony
    • Kindergartners at the Farm, Harvest, FFA Week
    • Spring Awards Banquet
    • Social Activities – Chapter and Sectional Activities
    • Leadership Meetings and Events

    Leadership & Communication Development

    • Critical Thinking Skills
    • Public Speaking Skills
    • Public Relation Skills
    • Team Building
    • Cooperative Learning
    • Develop Interpersonal Skills
    • Officer Development 


    • Recreation Trips
    • College Visits
    • Field Trips
    • Competitive Skills Field Days
    • Leadership Conferences Throughout the U.S. 


    • Greenhouse
    • Zinfandel Vineyard
    • School Farm
    • Livestock Facilities
    • 3-acre Pumpkin Patch
    • Agriscience Building
    • Floral and Plant Science Building
    • Agriculture Mechanics Shop 

    Can Assist in Providing

    • Part-Time Employment or Experience Employment
    • Recommendations – College or Job
    • Financing and Scholarships
    • Involvement in School, Community, State, and National Activities 

    Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shffa​​​​​​​ 

    Interested, but not sure where to begin? Drop in to see teachers Randy Mendes​​​​​​​ (Bldg G), Judy Aschwanden (Bldg H), or Sarah Herdell (Bldg K). They would be glad to share more with you!