ALBANY — The FFA, a national youth organization, once known as the Future Farmers of America offers leadership and career development opportunities for students interested in agricultural careers or industries. With one in five American careers founded in agriculture, agricultural education and FFA prepares students in New York Jr/Sr High School’s for careers that are essential, current, and lucrative while also providing them with vital life skills.
New York FFA currently supports over 8,000 middle and high school students in programs of varying size from the heart of New York City to the shores of Lake Erie. Agricultural education programs across the state offer relevance of core academic concepts as they are applied to the food and fiber systems and prepare students for career success, in and out of agriculture. One of the hallmark events for NYS FFA each year is the annual New York State FFA Convention where students, teachers, and guests gather to celebrate their accomplishments from the year.
Although the New York FFA State Convention was hosted virtually for the second time, this did not discourage the more than 2,000 students, teachers, and guests who participated in helping to celebrate and recognize members for all their accomplishments. The State Convention 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. This year was no different in that respect, however how it was accomplished was.
This year we were excited to expand on the virtual format with opportunities for students, teachers and supporters all across New York State. We utilized a specially built website to give our participants access to all aspects of the convention. Other technologies including online test systems, Zoom meetings and social media resources were all utilized to provide this virtual opportunity. People from all over New York State gathered for this annual event in classrooms, homes, and offices to hear inspiring presentations from peers and agricultural professionals, expand our knowledge during workshops and tours by exploring different fields of the agricultural industry, and networked with agricultural business professionals and colleges during the Career Engagement Expo.
The NY FFA Director, Derek Hill, stated: “Although we would have all loved to have been in person, this convention offered the next best thing for all of our members. Congratulations to everyone who participated, and we look forward to seeing everyone in person next year!”
The State Officer had a new experience this year recording everything in advance, including the eight general sessions, the previews of the day and award results. The 20-21 NY FFA State Sentinel, Philip Rea stated, “Even though we weren’t able to come together in person, we still came together as an organization in spirit. NY FFA members had a great week full of sessions, workshops, tours and other fun activities that everyone could participate in. I believe overall that members had a fun experience despite the format and NY FFA will continue to grow and be as strong as ever.”
Hunter B. (Grade 6, 1st year member and Jr. FFA Chapter President at Sharon Springs) said of his experience, “I liked meeting and talking to new people. I liked attending the Program of Activities meeting and I got to speak with the keynote speakers.” Hunter made the most of the Virtual Convention as a Jr. Tool ID contestant, delegate, and active participant in the sessions.
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 8,000 students forward this coming year. Congratulations to the following students that will serve on the 2020-2021 New York FFA State Officer Team:
Molly Adams: President, Vernon Verona Sherrill FFA Chapter
Paige Warren: Vice President, Otselic Valley FFA Chapter
Anna Western: Secretary, Lowville FFA Chapter
Julia Uhrinek: Treasurer, Oakfield Alabama FFA Chapter
Makenna Seitz: Reporter, Vernon Verona Sherrill FFA Chapter
Brooklin Drake: Sentinel, Marathon FFA Chapter
As State FFA Officers, they will receive over 250 hours of training to help prepare them for their exciting year of service ahead of them. Time-management, public speaking, key message identification, character-driven decision-making and much more will be explored in depth throughout their training.
New York FFA is grateful for all of our supporters, students, and teachers who have helped reimagine this year’s State Convention and who have continued to display excellence and leadership skills they have developed throughout their time in FFA. The convention website will be made public for others to view this summer. If you would like to see firsthand what took place, please visit: www.nysffastateconvention.org.
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.
–New York State FFA
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