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Agricultural Hall Induction For Farinelli
There's no better time than Homecoming Week to celebrate accomplishments of Escalon residents ... and former Escalon High ag teacher and FFA advisor Gino Farinelli is one of those in the spotlight.

Farinelli was inducted into the Agricultural Teachers Hall of Honor, the induction ceremony coming at the end of a long process that saw him recognized by his peers in the industry for his contributions to agriculture.

Unassuming, as is his way, Farinelli humbly accepted the accolades and said his greatest joy was teaching students, leading the agricultural leaders of tomorrow.

"He gets really proud when he talks about the student teachers he had who went on to teach and be successful in the agricultural field," said Escalon High ag science teacher Jennifer Terpstra.

Though she taught with Farinelli for just one year at Escalon prior to his retirement, she had taught in Lodi for six years prior to that. In that capacity, she 'competed' against Farinelli and his students at FFA events, since they were in the same section.

But it was Terpstra, after working with and learning from Farinelli during his final year at EHS, who nominated him for induction into the Hall of Honor.

"It's really an award where people who have made an impact in the agricultural field are honored, once they have been out of teaching for a couple of years," she explained. "I nominated him at the section level in the fall, then it (the nomination) moved on to the regional level where I spoke on his behalf."

Each FFA Section in the state could have two nominees and Farinelli was one of just a handful that made it all the way through the nomination and selection process and on in to the Hall of Honor. He was able to attend the induction ceremony earlier this year.

Recognized though the California Ag Teachers Association, Farinelli joins a select group of outstanding educators in the Hall.

"He taught at Escalon High School for 32 years straight," Terpstra said. "It's the only school he taught at, other than down south where he did his student teaching, and that's just an amazing feat. Plus it's his alma mater."

Farinelli served as an officer at all levels of the California Ag Teachers Association and served on many steering committees to help form the future of ag education. It was his leadership, said Terpstra, that helped bring the Escalon FFA and ag education throughout California to a new level.

"He had love of students, a love of teaching," she said.

Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Dave Mantooth said no one is more deserving of the honor than Farinelli.

"Whenever I travel the state, everybody knows that Escalon is strong in agriculture, strong in FFA," Mantooth said. "When people hear I'm from Escalon, they ask me, do I know Gino Farinelli."

His name, Mantooth said, became synonymous with excellence in agricultural education.

"For as long as I can remember, Gino was Escalon agriculture," Mantooth added. "When I first cam here as the high school principal, he and Louie (Blodgett) were the foundation of the FFA and ag program."

Farinelli has kept in touch with the school and its students, continuing to mentor future ag leaders .He is also in much demand as a judge for various ag competitions throughout the state.

"He had his own way of motivating kids," Mantooth said of getting them involved through speeches, judging, and competition. "Looking for ways for kids to be successful ... that was his goal."