NY FFA Students Tour Agriculture Colleges

While most students are typically awaiting the start of a brand new school year in August, high schoolers involved in FFA and 4H were taking part in a traveling conference over the course of 5 days across New York State. The inTENse conference takes high school students in grades 10 through 12 on the road and exposes them to agricultural college and career opportunities within New York. Students learn about college admissions and a variety of career options through hands-on experiences. The goal is that every participant will clearly understand that no matter what sort of career they envision for themselves they can do it in agriculture - and that we need them to do it in New York agriculture. This year, almost 60 students took the opportunity to tour SUNY Cobleskill, Paul Smith’s College, SUNY Morrisville, Cornell University, and Alfred State College, in hopes of finding a college and career that would best suit them.

The first day of InTENse was spent at SUNY Cobleskill. With 57,900 high- skilled jobs available in the food, agriculture, renewable resources and environmental fields in the United States, students were exposed to several of these career fields. As the tour progressed, students got hands on and made pickles as part of the culinary lab as well as groomed horses during the equine experience. During the next leg of the experience at Paul Smith’s College, students participated in timber sports, driving horses, and the rehabilitation of wildlife. While in the Adirondacks, we made a stop at the Wild Center to learn about internship opportunities that are available in this career field.
Once students left the Adirondacks, they headed to SUNY Morrisville to see the dairy incubator, equine rehabilitation center and the ag mechanics program. Students also learned about Collegiate FFA before joining Farm Credit East for a tour of Holmes Acres and Cazenovia Equipment. Once at Cornell University they were able to see the weed/crop gardens, get an in depth look at the lab of Ornithology, and explore the rumen of a fistulated cow. Following a day of tours, the students got to enjoy a meal at Coltivare. Here they learned about how the food that was used to prepare the meal was locally grown at TC3, a community college with agriculture and sustainability options. The last stop of the experience was spent touring the dairy farm and Vet Tech program at Alfred State. Students were able to use an endoscope and conduct a sonogram on a dog, prepare blood smears, perform wellness exams on calves, and observe the operation of a robotic milker before heading back home. By the end of the week, group leaders heard the students expressing their excitement about the colleges they had seen and the opportunities they couldn’t wait to take advantage of. In fact, many students began the application process to join the class of 2021 at desired universities such as Justin Rodda who said “I tried to start the application process yesterday, but it just started today and I’m going to have it filled out before I leave”. The future of agriculture is bright thanks to the incredible students enrolled in agriculture programs across New York. We would like to take this time to thank the colleges, agricultural businesses and our sponsors for giving this amazing opportunity to future generations of agriculturalists.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career successful through agriculture education. For more information regarding FFA please visit either www.nysffa.org or www.ffa.org.

Respectfully Submitted By,
Kimberly Doyle
NY FFA State Reporter, 2017-2018

FFA milestone achieved for Cayuga student

Brett Jillson_DP 7.jpg

AURORA, N.Y. — May 13th was the last day of the NYS FFA State Convention, and an end to a competitive season for most FFA members. However, for Brett Jillson, a student at Southern Cayuga Central School, and a member of the Southern Cayuga FFA Chapter, it was the day that he was elected for a year of service as the NYS FFA District 7 President.

The FFA, a national youth organization, once known as Future Farmers of America offers both leadership and career development opportunities for students interested in any agriculturally related career. One in five American careers is founded in Agriculture and students studying agricultural education in NY High Schools are preparing for careers that are essential (Food Safety), current (“Green” technologies and renewable fuels) and lucrative (veterinary science). As an elected District President, Brett Jillson will have the opportunity to promote these opportunities throughout the state to students, administrators, businesses and legislators.

As an FFA Member over the past 6 years, Brett Jillson has taken advantage of the many opportunities for leadership and career development training that the FFA offers. The leadership skills developed throughout membership in the FFA have led to a talent for speaking, knowledge of agriculture and the FFA, and a passion for serving his community. As a District President, Brett will receive numerous hours of training and will spend a significant amount of time promoting Leadership and Agricultural Education to the 12 schools in his district. He will be visiting local schools, facilitating workshops and giving speeches to groups interested in Agriculture and Education.

Brett has been in the FFA since fifth grade. He has held the office of Chapter Historian for the past year and in such capacity has promoted the Chapter’s activities and accomplishments on Facebook and Instagram, while also maintaining a collection of photos and news clips about the Chapter’s endeavors. His passion for serving his community has led to work with the King Ferry Food Pantry and volunteering in the Emily Howland Elementary classrooms. This year, Brett has led the FFA PALS fifth and sixth grade students in a program mirroring the Jr. /Sr. High FFA program, thus sharing his knowledge and leadership skills, and encouraging active participation in this excellent organization. His emphasis on Public Speaking, Team Building and Agricultural knowledge and skills, has given these youngsters a leg up on the many opportunities available through Agriculture.

“The FFA prepares young people to be successful and career driven young leaders,” Derek Hill, Youth Program Specialist at Cornell University said. “State FFA District Presidents are often the ones training their peers to become those very things…their responsibilities are both significant and challenging.”

Still excited from the honor of his newly elected position, Brett will begin his year of service with Blast-off training on Thursday, May 18th. Time Management, Public Speaking, Key Message Identification, and Character-driven Decision Making will be explored in depth throughout the four day conference at Oswegatchie Educational Center in Croghan, NY. The next day it will be back to school with essays to write and homework to submit. It is a whirlwind experience, but one that will be well worth the challenge. After all, any FFA member knows being elected a District President is the opportunity of a lifetime.

–Kimberly Davidson
Southern Cayuga Central School


Convention celebrates 2017-18 New York State Budget with Record Funding for Agricultural Education Programs and 100th Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball will address the 92nd NYS Future Farmers of America (NY FFA) Convention on May 11 to highlight the significance of agricultural education programs to growing the industry. The annual convention, being held at Morrisville State College through May 13, brings together more than 1,600 NY FFA student members and program staff from across the state to recognize their achievements and to provide members with valuable personal and professional development opportunities. 

The Convention also celebrates agricultural education as a priority for strengthening the New York State economy and the future workforce.  Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the 2017-2018 New York State Budget includes record funding of more than $3.6 million to support agricultural education programs and related projects. 

“The NY FFA annual convention is a great time to shine a spotlight on the incredible accomplishments of its members and the impact of this program on our industry, our workforce and the economy,” Commissioner Ball said. “I’m proud that Governor Andrew Cuomo places such a high priority on the importance of agricultural education and that the NYS Budget reflects this support. I am honored to take part in this convention and celebrate the next generation of farmers who will lead the industry forward.”

Supporting Future Agricultural Education Opportunities
Governor Cuomo has prioritized investments in agricultural education to support workforce development and ensure that agriculture remains a valuable and vibrant industry in New York State.  More than $1.6 million will support the creation of new FFA chapters through start-up grants, expand the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, and help double the number of certified agricultural educators in the State.  This funding is a $1 million increase over last year’s level.  It will enhance opportunities to educate students about healthy eating, particularly those in high-need districts.  It will also help meet the growing demand for agricultural education across New York and expose even more students to these influential programs.

In addition, the State Budget includes $2 million to build a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab at the New York FFA Leadership Training Foundation’s Oswegatchie Educational Center in Croghan, NY.  The facility will offer instruction in food safety, basic food preparation skills, and agricultural-related careers in food processing.  It will also provide space for producers to test new processed food products. Training will be available to FFA members, agricultural educators, farm owners, beginning farmers, and other members of the public. A certified kitchen manager will be on staff to operate the facility and provide classroom instruction. 

By educating current and future New York farmers about emerging trends in food safety, the test kitchen will serve as a valuable resource to increase participation in the New York State Grown & Certified program—the State’s brand for foods grown in New York State and produced to a higher standard.  In order to participate in the program, farmers must be located in New York and have food safety and environmental stewardship plans in place on the farm. More information about New York State Grown & Certified is available here.

NY FFA Convention and Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System
The NY FFA develops middle school and high school students into strong professionals who become leaders in a variety of career fields, including agriculture. There are currently 4,300 members across the State. At this year’s convention, members will have an opportunity to take part in more than two dozen career and leadership development events and competitions. Participants will demonstrate their talents in a variety of categories, including agriculture communications, marketing, vet science, and more.  Winners of these competitions will advance to the National FFA Convention in October. The state convention also offers a number of workshops, motivational seminars, volunteer service opportunities and educational tours during the three-day event. 

This year’s convention also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917, which established a cohesive national agricultural education system that continues today.  The Smith-Hughes Act was named for Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Dudley Hughes, both of Georgia, who introduced the legislation in Congress.  It 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.

NY FFA State President Camille Ledoux said, “We are so grateful for the support of Commissioner Ball, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the funding provided by New York State to support the NY FFA.   The FFA is a great program, one that is near and dear to our hearts.  We are proud of the work we do, our promotion of agriculture and this convention—it is a time for us to bring together members and all of our stakeholders and celebrate all of the work they put into the organization all year long.  Agriculture is truly a timeless industry and one that will always be needed for future generations.”

Julie Suarez, Associate Dean for Government & Community Relations at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, said, “Building a pipeline to youth involvement in our farm and food system is critically important to all New Yorker’s who enjoy fresh and local foods.  Today’s farmers and food system innovators need a wide variety of skills, from understanding business management, technology usage in food processing and precision agriculture, and of course, a high degree of scientific literacy.  As New York’s Land Grant institution, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences appreciates New York State’s ongoing commitment to the next generation through increased support to all of our agricultural education programs.  Capturing the next generation’s tremendous interest in farming and food will help support a vibrant food system for years to come.” 

About NY FFA
Administered by Cornell University, NY FFA develops premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through activities and opportunities nationwide. Future Farmers of America was founded by a group of young farmers back in 1928. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They taught us that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting– it’s a science, it’s a business and it’s an art.

FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet those challenges by helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways.  Learn more about NY FFA at www.nysffa.org