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

82 Organizations Submit Letter to Congress in Support of the Next Generation of Agriculture

More than 82 farm groups, youth organizations and agricultural associations signed a letter to Congress delivered Tuesday, March 21 (National Ag Day 2017) to strengthen the next generation of agriculturists.

The group, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Deere & Company, Syngenta, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and the National Farmers Union sent the letter to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees in an effort to express the need for policy allowing for the teaching of agricultural literacy and advocacy in classrooms, encourages students to return to the farm or to pursue agricultural careers and supports them in doing so, and equips youth serving organizations to prepare the next generation of agriculturists.

In addition, 100+ youth in agriculture have traveled to Capitol Hill to celebrate agriculture with their elected officials and their staff as part of National Ag Day’s student program. While they are there, several of the students issued a hard copy of the letter to the four principals on the agriculture committees. We invite you or your organization to join us by using #NextGenAg.

Read the letter below or view the PDF version:

March 21, 2017

Chairman Pat Roberts
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Chairman Mike Conaway
House Committee on Agriculture
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Ranking Member Collin Peterson
House Committee on Agriculture
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members,

We, the undersigned businesses, organizations, and associations, write to express our extreme support for a bipartisan effort to reauthorize a new, comprehensive Farm Bill for the betterment of agriculturists – and the next generation of agriculturists – across the United States.

During the 2014 Farm Bill proceedings, Representative Frank D. Lucas, then Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “Every four or five years, when a Farm Bill is signed, it’s signed for America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers, but it’s also signed for the next generation of young leaders. This bill affects them just as much as you and me.”

Our nation’s investment in American agriculture, and youth who will pursue that enterprise, is crucial to feeding the world, building a sound economy, maintaining a healthy labor market, and protecting the homeland. Now more than ever, we need sound legislation that considers the future of agriculture as much as it considers our current needs for strong safety nets and nutrition programs. We need policy that allows for the teaching of agricultural literacy and advocacy in our classrooms, encourages students to return to the farm or to pursue agricultural careers and supports them in doing so, and equips youth serving organizations to prepare the next generation of agriculturists regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, or disability.

The next version of the Farm Bill can do that, and more, by:
– Heightening the profile of youth in agriculture.
– Including agricultural education and/or agricultural literacy grants for secondary, school-based agricultural education programs, teachers, and students.
– Establishing an agricultural youth organization coordinator appointment within the Secretary’s office to oversee the implementation of the grants and to actively seek and communicate areas where there is a match between the education delivery needs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the programs developed to meet those needs through the work of the National FFA Organization, Agriculture Future of America, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, and other agricultural youth organizations.

As the 115th Congress works to advance agricultural priorities, and as your bodies work to reauthorize the Farm Bill, we hope that you will continue to consider the next generation of agriculture – our students.


Agricultural Retailers Association
Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America
Agriculture Future of America
Alabama FFA Association
Alaska FFA Association
American Agri-Women
American Feed Industry Association
American Seed Trade Association
American Society of Agronomy
Arizona FFA Association
Arkansas FFA Association
Arkansas Vocational Agricultural Teacher Association
Bayer Corporation
Colorado FFA Association
Connecticut FFA Association
Crop Science Society of America
CropLife America
Deere & Company
Delaware FFA Association
Domino’s Pizza
Farm Credit Council
Farm Journal Foundation
Florida FFA Association
Georgia FFA Association
Georgia Young Farmers Association
Global Cold Chain Alliance
Growth Energy
Hawaii FFA Association
Idaho FFA Association
Illinois FFA Association
Indiana FFA Association
Iowa FFA Association
Kansas Department of Agriculture
Kansas FFA Association
Kentucky FFA Association
Look East PR
Louisiana FFA Association
Maryland FFA Association
Minnesota FFA Association
Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences
Mississippi FFA Association
Missouri FFA Association
Montana FFA Association
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Council of Agricultural Employers
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Farmers Union
National FFA Organization
National Grain and Feed Association
National Young Farmers Coalition
Nebraska FFA Association
Nevada FFA Association
New Hampshire FFA Association
New Jersey FFA Association
New Mexico FFA Association
New York FFA Association
North Carolina FFA Association
North Dakota FFA Association
Ohio FFA Association
Oklahoma FFA Association
Oregon FFA Association
Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators
Pennsylvania FFA Association
Rhode Island FFA Association
Soil Science Society of America
South Carolina FFA Association
STEM Food and Ag Council
Texas FFA Association
The Fertilizer Institute
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
Utah FFA Association
Virgin Islands FFA Association
Virginia FFA Association
Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas
Washington FFA Association
West Virginia FFA Association
Wisconsin FFA Association
Wyoming FFA Association