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Hochul announces 'significant growth' of New York's agricultural education & FFA programs


Fri, Feb 23rd 2024 12:40 pm

During National FFA Week, governor announces number of agricultural teachers increased by more than 75% since 2016; FFA chapters and membership continue to grow with 200 chapters across state today

During National FFA Week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced “significant growth” in New York state’s agriculture education and FFA programs.

Her team said, “Since 2016, the number of agricultural teachers has grown to 412 in 2023, a more than 75% increase from 2016. In addition, New York’s FFA chapters and membership continue to grow, with 36 new FFA chapters created since 2022 and 89 since 2016, making for a total of 200 FFA chapters established across New York today.”

The governor’s 2024 State of the State and fiscal year 2025 budget both prioritize agricultural education, with the creation of a youth agriculture leadership conference and the dedication of $1.25 million to support the FFA, an increase of $250,000 from last year.

“As a former 4-H kid, I know firsthand how important agricultural education is to developing a generation of leaders that understand where our food comes from, value the work of our farmers, and are committed to supporting our agricultural communities,” Hochul said. “There are endless opportunities for our students to build a career in agriculture, from farming to food science, bio-technology, engineering, veterinary medicine, and so much more. New York will continue supporting our passionate educators and grow these critical programs across the state.”

A press release stated, “The increase in agricultural teachers, through programs such as Cornell University’s Agriculture Education and Outreach Program, New York Agriculture in the Classroom, and the New York State FFA Association, is allowing more schools and students to participate in a formal agricultural curriculum, providing a direct boost to the pipeline of students who will go on to enter into the agricultural industry as a future career.

“Alongside this growth in teachers, the number of FFA charters and members has also increased. With 200 chapters established in 53 of New York’s 62 counties, there are now nearly 12,000 FFA members in New York state, an increase from 9,300 in 2022. In 2016, the state agriculture commissioner challenged the FFA to increase its number of charters across the state by 100. The FFA is nearing that goal, with 89 created since then.”

The New York FFA Association is a youth organization that helps middle and high school students become leaders in a variety of career fields, including agriculture. In the fiscal year 2024 budget, $2 million was invested to support the New York FFA, Association of Agricultural Educations, and New York Agriculture in the Classroom; and $50,000 was allocated to support the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program.

The governor has proposed a youth agriculture leadership conference, increased support for the FFA in the executive budget by $250,000 for a total of $1.25 million, and dedicated $1 million to support the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program and increase the number of certified agricultural educators in the state. In addition, $250,000 is included in the executive budget in support of Urban Agricultural Education and $50,000 for the MANRRS program.

National FFA Week, which is celebrated from Feb. 17-24, honors the positive impact that FFA and agricultural education programs have on students across New York and the nation.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our agricultural teachers and FFA leadership are so passionate about building the future of this industry. They are the driving force behind these powerful programs that are helping our young people to learn about the industry and obtain the skills they need to be successful in agriculture and its related industries. When I look at our schools’ ag programs and our FFA students, I’m optimistic and excited about the future of our industry. I want to thank our existing ag teachers and FFA leaders for their dedication and welcome our newest teachers, who are embarking on this significant work of educating our young people. I also want to thank our governor, and our Legislature, for their continued support of these critical programs that are making a lasting impact on agriculture and will continue to for generations to come.”

New York State FFA Director Juleah Tolosky said, “Whether it's chapters starting in new communities or students starting their journey toward relevant, personal success, the story of New York FFA is growth. I am so proud of the work of our teachers to cultivate environments where students have the opportunity to thrive. We know just how much work it takes to go beyond the classroom and beyond the school year to move our communities forward through agriculture.”

New York State FFA President Ella Underberg said, “In New York FFA, we are offered the opportunity to witness so much growth within our members, communities and chapters. FFA has helped me see new perspectives on what it means to lead and truly be passionate.”

Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ronald P. Lynch Dean Benjamin Z. Houlton said, “For more than 150 years, Cornell CALS has been focused on developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture. It’s exciting to celebrate the growth of agricultural sciences education throughout our state’s rural and urban communities, expanding knowledge and skills in young people who will translate this knowledge into future action for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Director of Agricultural Education Outreach Shari Lighthall said, “Agriculture teachers are the foundation of every FFA chapter in the state. These teachers prepare students for careers, provide opportunities to develop agricultural literacy, and open the door for student growth and opportunity every day starting in local classrooms. For every blue jacket you see, there is a caring adult empowering their success. With a national shortage of agriculture teachers, we are proud of every initiative that puts qualified teachers in classrooms.”

Director of New York Agriculture in the Classroom Katie Carpenter said, “Our passion revolves around creating opportunities for teachers and students to understand their role in the future of food and agriculture. Creating an agriculturally literate generation will ensure that we have a future workforce thinking thoughtfully and critically about our food system. This investment in youth and teachers is an exciting advancement for authentic learning experiences through agriculture.”

The press release added, “Administered by Cornell University, NY FFA develops premier leadership, personal growth and career success through activities and opportunities nationwide. FFA was founded by a group of young farmers in 1928. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They showed that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting – it’s a science, it’s a business and it’s an art.

“FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet challenges by developing their own unique talents and exploring their interests in a broad range of career pathways.” 

Learn more about NY FFA at www.nysffa.org.

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