GENEVA, N.Y. — Outstanding agriculture leaders were honored at the Ontario County Agriculture Appreciation Banquet on Friday, March 22, 2019 at Club 86, Geneva, NY. The banquet was a wonderful celebration of agriculture in Ontario County during National Agriculture Week. One hundred thirty-eight (138) agriculture producers, educators, county officials, county supervisors, state and legislative representative enjoyed the banquet.
The Rodney Lightfoote Agricultural Viability, Leadership, and Innovation Award serves as a memorial to Rodney Lightfoote (1920-2002), former Agriculture Program Leader of Cornell Cooperative Extension, one of the original founders of Ontario County Farm Bureau, farmer and friend of agriculture. The 2019 recipients were the Nicholson Family, Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva. Joe Nicholson, Sr. and his wife, Emily, moved from Bethpage, NY in 1958 from their poultry farm. They bought the Red Jacket Fruit Farm when Joe Jr. was 15 and they started with a small roadside stand to sell their fruits directly to consumers. The original farm was 110 acres. In 1972, Joe Jr. returned to the farm with his wife and his son and twin sons, after graduating from college and working in NYC. He started experimenting with other fruits, such as plums and apricots. In 1977, the farm was 210 acres. The Nicholson family was the Extension Farm Family in 1982. The Extension Network newsletter was written by Rodney Lightfoote. Rodney wrote that “one of the best examples of direct marketing of farm products to the consumer is Red Jacket Fruit Farm.” Joe Jr. had started experimenting with making juices with his apples and adding different fruit to the juices. Joe Jr.’s children went to college and worked in NYC and Washington, DC, like their dad. In 2000, Brian was the first one to come back to the home farm as Vice-president for marketing and sales. At that time the labels for the fruit juices were printed with the office printer. Mark returned to the farm in 2002, his responsibilities included managing farm operations and launching the sales of a branded juice product line. In 2014, Red Jacket debuted its first private label apple, The Seneca Crisp®. In the December 16, 2016 article in the Democrat and Chronicle, “on 600 rolling acres above Seneca Lake, Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva has developed a reputation for using sustainable business practices to harvest and press premium, award-winning fruits and juices.” The Nicholson Family and Red Jacket Orchards are an excellent example of a viable and innovative company in Ontario County Agriculture.
For her long standing contribution and continued advocacy for Ontario County Agriculture, Nancy Anderson, Palmyra (Town of Manchester) is the second recipient of this year’s Rodney Lightfoote Agriculture, Viability, Leadership and Innovation Award. Nancy has been employed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County since February 1992 and is the past recipient of the Paul and Peg Zimmerman Outstanding Young Farmer Award (along with her late husband, Paul Anderson) as well as the Jackie Kunes Outstanding Women in Agriculture. She has worked for years as the Chairperson for the Ontario County Dairy Princess Program and has received numerus other awards allocated for her dedicated service to Agriculture in Ontario County. Nancy was the key note speaker, featuring her presentation, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County’s 100 Years of Service to the Agriculture Community.
The Jackie Kunes Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award, The Ontario County Farm Bureau established this award as a tribute to Jackie Kunes (1937-1977), the first woman president of Ontario County Farm Bureau, a distinguished and devoted leader in the industry, her family business, and the community. Jackie’s son, Casey presented the 2019 Jackie Kunes Award to Lori Weykman, Clifton Springs. She grew up on a dairy farm in Delaware County and was the county Dairy Princess. Lori received her Associates Degree in Agriculture Business at SUNY Cobleskill and her Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education from Oswego State University. She is currently employed by Rural Communities Insurance Service as a crop insurance support specialist. Lori has been active in the community as a past member of Midlakes basketball booster, Ontario County Farm Bureau Board, 4-H Leader, and chairman for the Dairy Princess Program. She is married to Jason Weykman and has 2 children, Lindsey and Zach.
The 2019 Paul and Peg Zimmerman Outstanding Young Farmer Award was presented to Dustin Coryn, Canandaigua. Dusty was raised in Canandaigua and Grand Island, NY. Dusty has been around farming and farm equipment since he was a small boy and he learned to drive tractors at the family business and the NYS Pageant of Steam. He graduated from West Virginia with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Resource Management. After graduation, Dusty was manager at Whitetail Deer Farm in Wisconsin raising fawns and assisting with other herd responsibilities. Upon returning to Canandaigua, he worked at Hilton Farms and then accepted a position with Charlie Page working for IBA. He established strong, positive relationships with farm communities in Ontario, Wayne, and Yates Counties. Last fall, he accepted a position with Dairy One as a milk tester. Dusty became involved with Ontario County Farm Bureau and volunteered for Fun on the Farm and the Steam Pageant. Dusty is a dedicated outdoorsman, who appreciates the role that farming and agriculture have played in shaping his life.
Rich Jerome presented the 2019 Ralph Jerome Scholarship to Annaleigh DeBoover, Phelps. This scholarship is presented to a high school senior pursuing an ag related college major with special emphasis on seeking a career in farming. Annaleigh attends Midlakes High School and is carrying a 96+ GPA in an Advanced Regents Diploma tract and also an Animal Science endorsement from Finger Lakes Technical Career Center. She is in band, FFA, Girl Scouts, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Junior Dairy Leaders, 4-H, and other community groups. Annaleigh will be attending SUNY Cobleskill in the fall pursuing an Animal Science/Agricultural Business Major. After college, she would like to learn different herd management techniques, with hopes to be able to assist in taking over the family farm and developing it for the future.
Julie Maslyn, chairperson of the Ontario County Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee presented the Ontario County Farm Bureau Agricultural Citizenship Scholarships. This scholarship recognizes graduating high school seniors for their agricultural citizenship within their community. Their activities, promotional efforts and enthusiasm for the agriculture industry are recognized and encouraged, no matter what field of study they pursue.
The 2019 Ontario County Farm Bureau Agricultural Citizenship Scholarships were given to Katie Buddle, Geneva, Morgan Smithling, Stanley, and Corrine Brown, Clifton Springs. Katie Buddle is attending Geneva High School and is planning on attending SUNY Potsdam for music education. Katie was raised on a farm and she will be an advocate for agriculture with her background. She works with the new agriculture teacher in the middle school as Geneva School plans out the new agriculture classes and future FFA Chapter. Morgan Smithling attends Marcus Whitman and she plans on attending SUNY Cobleskill for Ag Business. She enjoys showing cows and also being a swimmer at Marcus Whitman. Morgan is a great example of agricultural citizenship for the rest of her life. Corrine Brown will be graduating from Midlakes in June and is attending SUNY Morrisville. She has been involved in agriculture with showing beef and swine and has expanded her knowledge in dairy after joining Junior Dairy Leaders and she is the current Ontario County Dairy Princess.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, Ontario County Farm Bureau and Ontario County Agriculture Enhancement Board are collaborators of this annual event.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension
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