The New York State FFA Association hosted the 91st annual State Convention in Syracuse, NY on May 5th – 7th. The convention theme was Imprint, chosen by the six state officers. The three day convention brought together more than 1,000 FFA members across New York from nearly 100 different schools; one of the largest chapters being John Bowne FFA from New York City. They have about 150 members.
The first day of convention, FFA members and advisers participated in a Day of Service. Students visited one of the 14 different Day of Service work sites where they worked with fellow FFA members, community members, and volunteers to make their imprint on Syracuse. Service projects included: agricultural literacy at downtown Syracuse schools, which consisted of visiting classrooms, reading agriculture-related stories, and explaining the system described in the book; working with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Earth Corps, a community based foundation that works to restore parks and open areas while teaching leadership and responsibility skills to young people; flower box and bat house construction; maintenance at the FFA building at the State Fairgrounds; meal packing at the Food Bank of Central New York, which served over 14,000,000 meals to impoverished people last year; house construction with Habitat for Humanity; tree planting at Onondaga Park; serving and preparing food at the Samaritan Center; upkeep on the Witter Agriculture Museum at the State Fairgrounds; and landscaping, meal packing and making survival bracelets at the OnCenter.
There were also many tours and workshops that were available for chapters to participate in on their down time. Beak and Skiff, in Lafayette, NY, opened their doors for over 300 students for a tour of their facility. They demonstrated how apples are pressed for cider, what machinery is used to rake apples from trees, and what constitutes as a ‘good’ apple.
That last day of the convention, Saturday, over 130 students received their Empire Degree, the highest degree received at a state level. This award is given to students who have successfully completed an SAE, or Supervised Agriculture Experience. To complete this, students must log money and hours spent working with a farm animal, agriculture program, or farm job. It must then be submitted to the state FFA association for review. These students will walk the stage, similar to a graduation, and receive a certificate and gold chain to adorn their signature corduroy jacket, symbolizing the success of their FFA journey.
The New York State FFA Association is a youth organization that provides premiere growth and leadership opportunities for students all across the state, typically enrolled in an agriculture program, such as animal or plant science, diesel mechanics, or biology. To learn more, see your schools agriculture teacher, or a friend in FFA. You could also visit nysffa.org.