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Future Farmers of America

Byron-Bergen FFA members take 'amazing' road trip to national convention

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Byron-Bergen FFA in Kentucky.

Press Release:

Six members of the Byron-Bergen Chapter of the FFA joined over 72,000 attendees at the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana on Nov. 2 and 3. However, their adventure began four days prior when they loaded up the tour bus and set out on an agriculture-themed road trip complete with educational experiences, sightseeing, and celebrity photo-ops. They shared this journey with the Belleville Henderson FFA, Indian River FFA, and Alexandria Bay FFA.

“I really loved meeting people from all over the US,” said 10th-grade FFA member Grace Mundell. “The people I met and got to know on our bus were amazing and I felt such a sense of belonging.”

After a quick stop at the Cleveland Zoo, the group headed to Kentucky for a peak into the world of horse racing. Keeneland Racetrack, Churchill Downs, and the Kentucky Derby Museum were all on the itinerary as well as Ashford Farm. Ashford Farm is a family-owned horse farm specializing in boarding and training sport horses. While at Ashford, FFA members had the opportunity to Meet 2015 Triple Crown Winner, American Pharoah.

“I love how everything and everyone in Kentucky revolves around horses,” said Mundell. “I got to pet American Pharoah, one of two living triple crown winners. I learned that the stud fee for him is $250,000 and I learned about how much work and money goes into horse racing.” 

“We learned that a horse sold for 12 million dollars at Keenland racetrack and (at Winstar Farms) I learned that Secretariat’s heart was three times the size of an average horse’s heart,” said 10th grade FFA member Paige O’Brien. O’Brien’s favorite part of the trip was visiting Haygard Equine Medical Facility. “I was able to see other career options that I may want to fulfill.”

From Kentucky, the group headed to Indiana to visit Tom Farms, the largest landowner in the state. They farm 18,000 acres, 3500 acres in seed corn and the rest is a mix of soybeans and field corn. The group received a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into producing over 150 million pounds of corn and soybeans every year.

The final stop on their journey was the 96th Annual FFA National Convention. The main sessions were held in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. FFA members networked with agricultural industry representatives and representatives from many agricultural, natural resource, and engineering colleges including Cornell University, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville, Paul Smiths College, and Clarkson University.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to network with FFA members from across the state and nation,” said Parnapy. “There were chapters at the convention representing all 50 states.”

O’Brien stated that “making connections with members from other states” was the most memorable part of the convention. Mundell will always remember reciting the FFA pledge at the convention center in unison with 66,000 other FFA members. One of the last stops before boarding the bus back to New York State was to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to attend a rodeo.

“I think one of my favorite parts was probably the rodeo, I hadn't ever been to one before and it was really fun and super cool to watch and cheer for the cowboys,” said Mundell. “In all that was the best trip I have ever gone on. I will never forget the people I met or the things I experienced and the places we went, it really was amazing.”

Byron-Bergen FFA members board a tour bus for the FFA National Convention.
Submitted photo of BB FFA visits Churchill Downs.
Submitted photo of BB FFA member petting American Pharaoh.
Submitted photo of BB FFA at National Conference.
Submitted photo of Byron-Bergen FFA atop a 110-foot-tall storage silo at Tom Farms, Indiana.


OA FFA receives grant to grow maple program at school

By Press Release

Press Release: 

Oakfield-Alabama Future Farmers of America(FFA) is excited to announce that they have just received the “Tractor Supply Company/National FFA Grants for Growing, $5000 grant”. The Grant funds are made possible
through Tractor Supply Company and donations are made to local stores during National FFA Week in mid-February each year.

OA FFA will use the awarded funds to help offset the cost of a new 2x6’ maple arch. The OAE FFA Alumni will match the funds to complete the purchase of the new arch. 

"This is so exciting," said OA FFA advisor, Todd Hofheins.“The old 2x4 arch that the students made 10 years ago has done a great job for the maple program here at school but a new 2x6 will help the students be more efficient in the boiling process and will produce higher quality maple syrup, quicker. I am also very appreciative of the support Tractor Supply Company provided. Maple production can be very expensive and without this grant and help from our OAE FFA Alumni, we wouldn’t be able to make this upgrade.”

OA FFA is scheduling an open house during the spring of 2024 maple season and will be demonstrating their new equipment. Follow us on Facebook for more details:

Celebrating Dairy Month: it takes 'a lot of labor and love'

By Joanne Beck
Addison Kaberle, Maggie Winspear, back, Amelia Brewer, Ian Kaberle
Members of Elba's Future Farmers of America, front row, Addison Keberle and Maggie Winspear, and back row, Amelia Brewer and Ian Keberle, celebrate Dairy Month after a proclamation presentation during the Genesee County Legislature meeting Wednesday at the Old County Courthouse. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Things aren’t what they used be on the dairy farm where Ian Keberle has worked since being a kid, he says. Though just 18, the Elba student has witnessed the dawning of technological miracles.

“Everything’s robotic now, like, we just installed a 72-cell robotic rotary parlor that only requires one person to manage it,” Ian said in the lobby of the Old County Courthouse in Batavia. “So the amount of automation that has been involved in the dairy industry is just astounding. I don’t think many people realize that it’s not just a job. For many dairy farmers, it’s a lifestyle. This is what my family chose to do, and this is what we love doing.”

Ian and three fellow Elba students and members of Future Farmers of America had just been upstairs in Genesee County’s Legislative chambers for a photo and reading of a proclamation for June’s Dairy Month.

All four students are active on dairy farms, with three of them working at Oakfield Corners Dairy, a division of Lamb Farms, on Batavia-Elba Townline Road in Oakfield. 

For anyone that thinks farming is strictly a male pursuit, Ian’s peers can counter that notion. Maggie Winspear, 17, is in her third year of FFA.

“It's really important to get the attention from people that don't know a lot about dairy and get them to understand why we love farming so much and why we do what we do,” Maggie said. “And it's just a connection, you make a connection with the animals and the people. And it's always fun working and just coming to work at a farm.”

Ian, 18, and his younger sister Addison also work at Oakfield Corners, where their dad is a manager. While her brother will graduate this year and plans to study agribusiness in college, Addison, 15, is taking care of the clinical aspects of the job.

“I work at the calf facility, I mainly do vaccinations with them. I kind of held out a little bit here and there. I'm still kind of too young to do a lot of major activities,” she said. “Some days, it's easy. Some days, it's hard. It's kind of a mixture.”

The Batavian asked Ian what he’d want the public to know about the dairy industry it might not otherwise understand.

“It’s not just a way to make money; it’s wonderful to see the effects that you have in the community providing a good nutritious dairy product on the tables of everything,” he said.

In October last year, the Elba FFA Chapter competed in the National FFA Dairy Evaluation and Management Competition in Indiana, and Ian was one of two members awarded national gold individually, and Amelia Brewer was one of two members awarded national silver individually.

Amelia is also in her fifth year and has worked on her family’s Post Dairy Farm, also on Batavia Elba Townline Road, “for my entire life,” she said. She has no plans to slow down after going to college.

“It's been in my family for five generations. I'm hopefully going to be the sixth generation,” Amelia said. “So I've just grown up in the industry, and I've grown a passion and a love for it. So it's what I'm going to pursue in the future, and it's something I'm pursuing now.

“I would like to come back to our farm, but I also would like to set up a creamery on our farm and bring another ag tourist stop because I believe that it's very important to give people the opportunity to see where their products are coming from and get to experience what goes into making those products, because a lot of labor goes into the dairy industry, a lot of labor and love.”

The proclamation states:

WHEREAS, the Dairy Industry has contributed to the development and prosperity of our community since the earliest formation of Genesee County, and

WHEREAS, since 1937 the rich history of Dairy production and its producers has been recognized across our great nation in an effort to savor the natural goodness in one of the most wholesome agricultural products, and

WHEREAS, dairy farmers and farm workers strive to produce wholesome dairy milk which is used to make delicious dairy products like yogurts, cheeses, butter, sour cream and ice creams that provide health benefits and valuable nutritional     benefit to residents locally, regionally and globally, and

WHEREAS, in 2014 the fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School began the push and later saw signed into law, the recognition of YOGURT as New York State’s official snack, and 

WHEREAS, the Dairy Industry in Genesee County is a significant contributor to the economy of our County, its Bread and Butter, allowing our landscape, citizens and businesses to flourish, and

WHEREAS, as of May 2021, the USDA Food Box Program sent over 176 million boxes to our hungry neighbors brimming with high quality Dairy products to fill a nutritional need nationally yet sourced locally. Now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Genesee County Legislature does hereby proclaim the Month of June 2023 as DAIRY MONTH and extend our thanks to the dedicated men and women who produce world-class dairy products enjoyed nationwide.

Elba students represent district at FFA competition and bring home the silver

By Press Release

Press Release

In October, the Elba FFA (Future Farmers of America) Chapter competed in the
National FFA Dairy Evaluation and Management Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. The team put in many hours of hard work and effort to compete at the national level.

The competition consisted of an online multiple-choice test that tested their dairy knowledge at the end of September, then at the end of October, they traveled to the National FFA Convention to compete in multiple days of events which included a team activity as well as judging multiple classes of dairy cattle.

The Elba FFA Chapter was awarded the National Silver Award for Dairy Evaluation and Management. Ian Keberle and Bing Zuber were awarded national gold individually, and Amelia and Jillian Brewer
were awarded national silver individually.

Other members of the FFA that attended the national convention were Addison Keberle and Maggie Winspear. They participated in general convention sessions hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium, were inspired by their peers as they were recognized for their accomplishments, and heard from keynote speakers.

Those members that attended also explored various career paths at the National FFA Expo, participated in career success tours, and more. The FFA chapter is advised by Tracy Dahlhaus, Elba Central School’s
agriculture science teacher.

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 850,000 student members as part of 8,995 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

More than 69,500 FFA members and supporters from across the country celebrated agriculture and agricultural education during the 95th National FFA Convention Expo in Indianapolis. This time-honored tradition, hosted by the city of Indianapolis, was held Oct. 26-29.

Photo submitted by Elba Central School of Bing Zuber, left, Ian Keberle, Amelia Brewer, and Jillian Brewer.

Elba's FFA earns several awards

By Joanne Beck

Elba Central School’s Future Farmers of America cleaned house at the New York State Fair, picking up several awards for the 2022 Premier National Junior Dairy Show and All-American Dairy Show.

The students and their awards are:

Senior showmanship

  • Maggie Winspear - 12th place and in the finals drive
  • Amelia Brewer - participant in the semi-finals

Intermediate showmanship

  • Addison Keberle - participant in the semi-finals
  • Bing Zuber - participant

Junior showmanship

  • Tate Zuber - participant

All-American Junior Show

  • Bing Zuber - 16th with his Brown Swiss
  • Tate Zuber - 15th with his Brown Swiss
  • Amelia Brewer - 10th with her Ayrshire
  • Amelia Brewer - 35th her Holstein
  • Addison Keberle - 3rd with her Holstein heifer
  • Maggie Winspear - 5th with her Jersey heifer
  • Maggie Winspear - 3rd place with her Holstein heifer
  • Maggie Winspear - 1st place aged cow, senior champion, grand champion

Photo submitted by Elba Central School.

Bill cosponsored by Collins aims to clear path for future farmers

By Howard B. Owens

With an eye toward drawing more young people into farming, Rep. Chris Collins appeared at the Post Farm in Elba today to announce his support of a bill that would provide aid and support to aspiring young farmers.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013 is aimed at providing loans, grants and assistance to new farmers.

“Farming and the agriculture industry play a critical role in the economy of our area, and in communities all around the country,” Collins said. “But the average age of our nation’s farmer is 57 years old. With a large segment of America’s farmers and ranchers at or nearing retirement age, we have to encourage young people to enter this challenging, hard and vitally important line of work so we can sustain this economic engine.”  

Collins appeared with members of Future Farmers of America, New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton and Genesee County Farm Bureau President Jeff Post.

"This will provide an opportunity for young people to get into farming," Norton said.

The bill would:

  • Enable access to land, credit and technical assistance for new producers;
  • Assist new producers to launch and strengthen new farm and value-added businesses;
  • Help new producers become good land stewards;
  • Provide training, mentoring, and research that beginning farmers and ranchers need to be successful;
  • Conduct outreach on agricultural job opportunities for military veterans.

For more on the bill, click here.

Ivy Reynolds, secretary of the NYS FAA, said the bill will ensure that young people like herself with a passion for farming will stick with farming.

"The engagement of young people in agricutlure is key to ensuring that when current owners and operators of New Yorks farms, dairies, nurseries and vineyards are ready to retire, there's a new generation that's ready, educated and excited about their role as the providers of nutrition," Reynolds said.

Post, Collins and Norton.

Reynolds, and a barn cat who stopped by to check out all of the activity.

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