February Marks 100th Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System
State Agriculture Commissioner Participates in Anniversary Celebration with New York Future Farmers of America
Governor Cuomo Proposes Record Funding for Agriculture Education in 2017-18 Executive Budget
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball commemorates 100 years of formal agricultural education in New York State in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917. As a result of this landmark federal legislation, a cohesive national system of career and technical education was developed and continues today.
Commissioner Ball will join the New York Future Farmers of America (NY FFA) for an anniversary celebration tonight in Albany that will promote the value of agricultural education programs to both students and the industry and spotlight New York’s leadership in agricultural education. On behalf of Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Ball will present a citation during the celebration to commemorate the anniversary.
“For years, agricultural education programs have encouraged millions of young people to pursue higher education and become strong leaders in their chosen fields. The Smith-Hughes Act was a major part of strengthening that effort across the country and I am thrilled to be part of the celebration of this historic milestone,” Commissioner Ball said. “Here in New York, we are proud be a national leader when it comes to agriculture education and I am grateful to be part of an administration that recognizes the importance of carrying that legacy forward.”
The Smith-Hughes Act was named for Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Dudley Hughes, both of Georgia, who introduced the legislation in Congress. It was passed on February 17, 1917 and signed by President Woodrow Wilson on February 23. In celebration of this historic anniversary, the NY FFA is holding career development workshops this month to help more than 100 students better understand public policy and State government.
The Smith-Hughes Act paved the way for youth leadership development organizations, such as FFA, whose members gain valuable workforce training and professional management skills that often lead to meaningful careers in agriculture and related fields. New York State has a rich history with the National FFA Organization being one of the oldest chapters in the country. Currently, Ashley Willits from Copenhagen, NY, is serving as the Eastern Region Vice President for the National FFA. She is the first female national officer from New York.
Terry Hughes, Career Development Event Coordinator for NY FFA said, “As a product of Agricultural education myself, it is exciting to see that even after 100 years this dynamic school based program continues to prepare young people to fill the growing demand in the ever changing Agriculture, Food, Fiber, and Natural Resources Industry. Agricultural education is positioned well to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of students by recognizing the critical importance of developing premier leadership through the FFA as an integral part of career success and civic engagement.”
Ashley Willits, National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, said, “New York FFA Association, along with FFA associations across the country and in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, give students opportunities to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to relevant, real world experiences. With more than 235 careers in agriculture, FFA and agricultural education play an integral part in preparing students to be competitive in a global workforce.”
Record Funding For New York Agricultural Education
Agricultural education has long been a priority in New York with programs that pre-date the Smith-Hughes Act and the oldest urban agriculture program in the U.S. The State was also one of the first in the country to allow girls to pursue these curriculums and continues to set an example for the rest of the nation with cutting-edge programs that influence more than 10,000 students annually.
To continue New York’s progressive leadership in this area, Governor Cuomo has proposed a record $1.3 million in his 2017-18 Executive Budget to support 100 new FFA chapters through start-up grants, expand the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, which is administered by Cornell University, and to double the number of certified agricultural educators from 240 to 480. The Governor’s plan will enhance opportunities for students and educators and help meet the growing demand for agricultural programs across the State.
The Governor has also proposed a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab at the New York FFA Oswegatchie Educational Center in the North Country. This test kitchen will offer instruction in food safety, basic food preparation, and food processing to more than 6,000 annual visitors, including both students and veterans from nearby Fort Drum.
Kathryn J. Boor, Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said, “I appreciate this important partnership commemoration as it recognizes the full spectrum of Cornell’s agricultural education, which begins in the primary schools with the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, to the Cornell FFA program’s emphasis on developing high school students, and ends with our excellent undergraduate and graduate programs in agricultural and life sciences. The importance of agricultural education in today’s economy has never been greater, as we see ongoing needs to cultivate the next generation of New York’s farm families, food and business entrepreneurs, and plant and animal scientists to keep feeding a globally increasing population efficiently and sustainably in a changing climate. I am thrilled that the Governor recognizes the importance of building a reliable pipeline to Taste NY and New York Grown and Certified programs through supporting the future farm and food entrepreneurs in New York State.”
Tina Miner, President of NY Association of Agricultural Educators, said “This is an exciting time for agricultural education in New York State. So many school districts are seeking to start agricultural education programs and our State leaders have demonstrated that they recognize the power of these programs to develop a strong workforce. We are thrilled to have this level of support and we look forward to our role in supporting one of New York’s most important industries.”
Jola Szubielski I Jola.Szubielski@agriculture.ny.gov 518-457-0752
Lisa Koumjian I Lisa.Koumjian@agriculture.ny.gov 518-457-0752
Agricultural Education Day
On February 23, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Hughes Act, which established formal pre-collegiate vocational agricultural education and the National FFA Organization “to train people “who have entered upon or who are preparing to enter upon the work of the farm”. In honor of this milestone the New York Association of FFA and the New York Association of Agricultural Educators (NYAAE) is hosting a dinner celebration and offering a new conference for select students and teachers to commemorate this achievement at our State Capitol. NY FFA and NYAAE believe that it is important to provide our members civic, community, personal growth, leadership and career development opportunities. This conference will provide opportunities for our chapter leaders to engage with State and National FFA Leaders, interact with our government officials at the Capitol by participating in government. FFA members will interface with partners and stakeholders to foster an understanding of the importance of promoting agriculture and agricultural education. This conference is divided up into three strands (experiences) that specifically target: FFA Chapter Presidents, Jr. High FFA Chapter Officers, and NYAAE Members/Leaders
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Sr. High Chapter Presidents. The program will immerse our chapter’s leaders in state government for one day to teach them about public policy and the importance of being an active member in their communities. They will spend the day interacting with our State Officers, National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, organizational partners and government officials understanding the importance of promoting/advocating for agriculture, agricultural education and FFA to our stakeholders. Throughout this experience Chapter Presidents will have time to grow personally through their interactions with other officers and the opportunities to see government in action.
Jr. High Chapter Officer teams are invited to prepare an interactive display, such as handing out agricultural products from their area or setting up chapter displays, in the “Well” of the Legislative Office Building. It is expected that this “Ag Fair” will provide opportunities for Senators, Assembly members, staff, and government officials to learn about agriculture and agriculture education. FFA members will practice communication skills while promoting agriculture education. A select number of Jr. High Chapters will be accepted to participate. Please contact Derek Hill (email@example.com) or Shari Lighthall (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in this experience for your students.
While students are engaged in their respective experiences, Agriculture Teachers and Ag. in the Classroom Educators will attend an advocacy workshop followed by strategic advocacy efforts at the State Capital. NYAAE Leadership seeks (and is preparing to provide funding) up to 25 members. NYAAE seeks at least TWO teachers from each FFA District who will be responsible for meeting with legislators from their respective areas. The NYAAE Legislative Committee will work with NYAAE Member Representatives to advocate. Note: participants in this experience will be responsible for the supervision of students from their regions during the conference but NOT when engaged in the NYAAE Leader/Member Experience.