ITHACA, N.Y. — Partnerships with John Deere, trips around the nation’s capital, opportunities to earn money, and trips to the Adirondack mountains are just some of the many activities and events New York State FFA members were able to partake in this summer.
For five weeks in June, July, and August, Camp Oswegatchie in Croghan, New York witnessed record setting numbers during summer camp. FFA members were able to participate in activities ranging from canoeing and kayaking to hikes and mountain biking, as well as hunter safety programs and horseback riding. The high ropes course was a hit among the campers who enjoyed the zip line and giant swing components of the course. All campers also participated in the leadership class facilitated by the FFA State Officers. In this class campers were asked to solve a mystery that occurred on camp property while using and developing their critical thinking skills. At the end of each day campers looked forward to different activities hosted by the camp staff. The Dark Water Dash, Skit Night, and Carnival Night were all huge successes! Throughout the week FFA members looked forward to the Banquet and Dance held on Thursday night before heading home the next day. Camp Oswegatchie was also lucky enough to host not one, but two National Officers during camp! During week one of camp the Western Region Vice President Shea Booster attended, and week two was lucky enough to have the Eastern Region Vice President, Adrian Schunk.
The National Officers brought enthusiasm, wisdom, and uniqueness to both weeks of camp, and FFA members certainly enjoyed having them there. As the weeks ended FFA members, advisors, and supporters were able to say a final goodbye to the Widrick dining hall, which has stood on camp property since being built in the 1800s as a hotel for loggers. Widrick was torn down at the end of August/beginning of September as part of the Capitol Campaign through the NYS FFA Foundation. A new state-of-the-art dining and kitchen facility is being built but the memories made in Widrick will continue to live on.
Empire Farm Days is a three-day event in Seneca Falls, New York where FFA members can participate in Career Development Events (CDEs) as well as make connections with industry leaders and professionals. The Tractor Driving CDE and Welding CDE are both held on the final day of the exposition and helped competitors expand their knowledge and skill in those areas. Along with the CDEs, New York FFA had an information booth in the Cornell Building where State Officers helped inform the public about Agricultural Education and FFA. State Officers also had the chance to sell hats with John Deere, one of the largest supporters and sponsors of the FFA. All the proceeds went to support New York FFA members continue their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. The Pioneer FFA Chapter’s restored tractor also made an appearance at Empire Farm Days. The tractor had been restored by students and was being raffled off at the State Fair, all proceeds going to the NYS FFA Foundation to support student programming.
While great things were happening in New York, FFA members also had the opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital as part of the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC). Members learned how to become engaged citizens who can make a measurable, positive difference in their community. Students also developed their advocacy skills during legislative visits and enjoyed tours around our nation’s capital.
New York State FFA is well on its way to completing the goal of having 10,000 members and 15 new chapters this year. Just two months into the year, the Morrisville-Eaton, Geneva, and Groton School Districts were all awarded their FFA charters. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Richard Ball, attended the Groton Central School charter presentation and continued to show his support of FFA and agriculture education. While at the ceremony, the Commissioner also received his very own New York FFA jacket. Several legislators were also in attendance and encouraged the new members to take advantage of this opportunity.
The Great New York State Fair rounded out the summer and continued to be a favorite of many FFA members. The Fair opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony held by the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and was attended by the State Officer team. FFA members spent their days competing in CDEs ranging from agriculture electrification to dairy handling. All the results from the contests are available on the New York State FFA website, www.nysffa.org. The first placing teams will have the opportunity to compete at the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis in October-November, and second placing teams can compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Massachusetts in September. FFA chapters from across the state such as Tully, Tri-Valley, Warwick Valley, Stockbridge Valley, South Jefferson, VVS, TST BOCES and Sydney brought in different projects created by students and displayed them for the public to see in the FFA building. Each District President created a District display to highlight what the chapters in their area have been doing. Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Stockbridge Valley FFA Chapters both created activities and displays for FFA Day at the NYS Fair. Afton, Madison, South Jefferson, Unadilla Valley, and Oxford FFA Chapters also held demonstrations around the fair. The tractor restored by the Pioneer FFA chapter was raffled off; Austin Nolley of the Stockbridge FFA Chapter was the lucky winner. Austin chose to take the $2000 prize and donate half of the money to the Capital Campaign. FFA membership was proudly represented during both Ag Career Day and FFA Day at the fair. The District Presidents along with members ran informational booths and activities throughout the fairgrounds on Ag Career Day. These members were able to work with the Department of Labor and Department of Ag and Markets staff who put on the event. At the fair, the State Officers facilitated the Action Influences Members (AIM) Conference. This conference encouraged chapter officers to develop their chapter’s program of activities for the upcoming year and discover opportunities at the state level, as well as learn advocacy skills before they went out into the fairgrounds to promote an educational activity to the public. This year the winner of the AIM Conference was Belleville-Henderson FFA, in second place was Stockbridge Valley FFA, and in third were the Madison and Canastota FFA chapters. This year we expanded our footprint at the fair by having a booth in the Horticulture Building on the opposite side of the fairgrounds from the FFA Building. This was a great experience and FFA members and fairgoers enjoyed playing cornhole games, answering trivia questions, and pinning where they’re from on a map of the state with the FFA chapters marked. Layni LeBlanc, the National FFA Secretary, was able to experience what makes the New York State Fair and FFA members so great during the week as she attended the fair. Layni brought wisdom, inspiring stories, and new experiences to the fair, and FFA members enjoyed spending time with her around the fairgrounds. At the end of the fair, we will be saying goodbye to the FFA Building. The building is being torn down to allow upgrades to be made at the end of this summer. In 2020 you can still find us on the west end of the fair – we’ll just be under a tent! We are hoping to have a new building at the fair in the next couple of years. This summer is just the start of a great year for New York FFA. In the next few months we look forward to the State Officer Tour, Chapter Officer Leadership Training (COLT) Conference, Big E, Nationals, and much more!
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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