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Retired Paso Robles teacher inducted into agricultural teachers’ hall of fame 

Mark Clements agriculture hall of fame

Retired teacher Mark Clement

Mark Clement calls it ‘a great honor’

– Mark Clement, who taught agriculture at Paso Robles High School from 1979 to 2015, has been inducted into the California Agricultural Teachers Association Hall of Fame.

Clement was recognized for his contribution to the advancement of agriculture education. Before teaching at Paso Robles High School, Clement taught at Shandon High School. He was also an adjunct professor at Cal Poly in 1991.

“It’s a great honor to receive recognition from the peers that I have worked with over the years,” said Clement. Clement’s passion for agriculture started early. He was raised on a small 15-acre cotton farm in Hanford and worked in his family’s meat processing business. After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in food science and a minor in animal science he began his 37-year agricultural teaching career. He has served in all CATA offices at sectional and regional offices.

Among Clement’s accomplishments are introducing the first Drive-Thru-BBQ fundraiser at Paso Robles High School that raised over $300,000 during his tenure, coaching seven state-winning teams in livestock evaluation, meats evaluation, and dairy products, and teams that went on to claim two national titles for livestock evaluation. Clement also was part of the efforts to secure two agriculture education grants that contributed to building an 11-acre school farm and an agriculture department encompassing four classrooms, laboratories as well as a welding shop.

“I am also proud knowing that 70% of our students who took agriculture courses have gone on to pursue a career in agriculture,” said Clement. He has supervised more than 20 student teachers including three of his own children, many of whom have gone on to teach agriculture. Clement helped develop the first agricultural curriculum to receive science, fine art, government, and economic graduation credit and meet agricultural college prep requirements.

Clement credits his wife of 34 years, Cheryl, for being the stabilizing force that allowed for his successful career. These days, Clement raises a few market hogs per year on his Paso Robles farm. “I believe in the future of agriculture,” said Clement quoting the FFA creed. “The FFA creed reminds me that without sustainable agricultural practices our society will ultimately crumble. This is why I find that the education of agriculture, for all ages, is so vital now more than ever, to generate awareness of where our food and other material are derived from.”

Clement believes that agriculture is the foundation of society. He recalls the words of an advisor early in his career about how people have become too distant from the soil. “These words have resonated with me ever since and motivated me to better prepare my students about agriculture being the foundation of our society.” Clement said his objective was to “not only expand the knowledge of my students but to create advocates for the agriculture industry.”

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.