ITHACA, N.Y. — The FFA, a national youth organization once known as the Future Farmers of America, offers 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 New York Jr/Sr High Schools are preparing for careers that are essential (food safety), current (geneticist) and lucrative (environmental engineer).
For the last 94 years the New York FFA has held its annual state convention in person over the course of three days to help celebrate and recognize members for all their accomplishments throughout the year. It has been a culminating activity for many members over the years, allowing them to compete in career and leadership development events, network with agricultural colleges and industry reps and be inspired by keynote speakers and the State Officers’ retiring addresses. As the 95th NYS FFA Convention approached, some difficult decisions had to be made due to the COVID-19 Pandemic that would change this experience for all involved. After careful consideration, the 2019-2020 State Convention was canceled. However, the NY FFA State Leadership took inspiration from this year’s state convention theme “Dare to Be” and Dared to reimagine an alternative virtual convention. Using several different platforms, we were able to recognize members, facilitate virtual workshops and tours, conduct our business meeting and give our members the chance to hear from our Keynote Speaker, Chris Koch, and this year’s State Officer Team. With more than 200,000 people reached so far, approximately 18,500 people engaged and 84,100 views we were able to expand our reach and accomplish many of our goals for this event. The NY FFA Director, Derek Hill, stated: “NY FFA members, advisors and staff have risen to meet the challenge presented by this terrible virus in order to provide learning opportunities and a sense of normalcy during this difficult time in our history.”
The Tri-Valley FFA chapter had students participate in Proficiency Awards, National Chapter Application, State Officer Retiring Address, District President, Jacket Awards, Empire Degrees, and Star Awards for Empire Degrees! They were recognized for many things. In the area of Proficiency Awards: Emily Carey won first place gold in agricultural education, Alora Carey placed first place gold in forage production, Rebecca Coombe won first place gold in beef production placement, Kyle Giminiani placed first place gold in poultry production. All will represent New York at National FFA Convention. Alora Carey, Cathy Flores, Bricin McAndrew, Kayla Giminiani, Erin Duffy received their Empire Degrees. Alora Carey was the District 2 Star and State Star in Agricultural Placement. Molly VanEtten and Bricin McAndrew won the jacket award, and Tri-Valley was the 3rd place ranked chapter in New York for the National Chapter Award. Kyle Giminiani retired as the District 2 President and Emily Carey retired as the State FFA Reporter. One member stated, that while he missed being with other members, it was good to know that FFA can still continue on in the face of a pandemic. He looks forward to continuing to be involved and hopes that he can cheer on his fellow FFA members live in the future.
In addition to participating in tours, workshops, and social media posts, student delegates from across NY elected the next team of student leaders that will lead more than 8500 students forward this coming year. When looking back on life, May 15, 2020 may very well stand out as a day to be remembered for six high school students. Congratulations to the following students that will serve on the 2020-2021 New York FFA State Officer Team:
Austin Nolley: President, Stockbridge Valley FFA Chapter
Triana Burgos-Farnan: Vice President, Penn Yan FFA Chapter
Hannah-Rose Foote: Secretary, Cobleskill-Richmondville FFA Chapter
Paige Warren: Treasurer, Otselic Valley FFA Chapter
Citlali Hernandez: Reporter, John Bowne FFA Chapter
Philip Rea: Sentinel, Salem FFA Chapter
As State FFA Officers, they will receive over 250 hours of training to help prepare them for their exciting year of service to the members of NY FFA. Time-management, public speaking, key message identification, character-driven decision-making and much more will be explored in depth throughout their training. “I am very excited and looking forward to having the opportunity to serve as the New York State FFA President. I can’t wait to experience everything that goes along with being the state president and serving the amazing members of the New York State FFA Association!” stated Austin Nolley.
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 Emily Cary, 19-20 NY FFA State Reporter
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