|FFA members work on a fence-building workshop during the FFA state convention at Morrisville State College|
More than 1,000 of the best and brightest high school students fro across New York flocked to campus to gain hands-on experience in their future agricultural career fields during the event.
Hailey Mason, in her fifth year with FFA, credits the organization with inspiring her to pursue a career as an agriculture teacher. After visiting campus, she now hopes to fulfill that career path at Morrisville someday.
“I love this place,” exclaimed Mason, 15, of the Greenville FFA Chapter located southeast of Albany. “It feels like everyone here is in to seeing the students succeed.”
The convention featured a lineup of motivational and informational presentations, as well as competitions for participants that tested their knowledge of subjects such as agricultural communications, veterinary science, food science and agricultural issues.
The event also helped students gain a better understanding about personal growth and career success while teaching them job interview skills, public speaking skills and team building.
Campus and industry tours also offered educational experiences. In addition to experiencing Morrisville’s campus operations, including the college’s dairy incubator and aquaculture center, students had the chance to visit the nearby Fenner Renewable Energy Education (FREE) Center, a goat dairy, a mushroom farm and a worm farm.
Munnsville resident Rebecca Ax, 14, who hopes to become a therapeutic riding instructor, loved the college's equine rehabilitation center.
Now in her fourth year in FFA and serving as the junior high reporter for the Stockbridge Valley chapter, she said the convention would help her gain "more knowledge of agriculture and learn things I can show to other people."
Presenters from all over the country spoke, including Morrisville alumna Ashley Willits, Eastern Region vice president for the National FFA organization.
“It’s pretty powerful and has something for everyone,” said Christopher Roman, 15, of Verona, a member of the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (VVS) FFA Chapter. “It’s more than just agriculture; you gain leadership skills out of this, too.”
The event provided students with the opportunity to explore a career show, view an array of exhibits and attend leadership and career workshops. Among them was a fence-building workshop, presented by Jim Costello and John Leva of the college’s wood products technology program.
“It’s providing me with hands-on experience and exposing me to things I need to use in life,” Isabel Van Tassel said of the convention.
Van Tassel, 17, of the Cazenovia FFA Chapter, became interested in agriculture while raising a pig to show at a fair. “That sparked my interest in so many other things, like how to build a fence,” she said.
Students also investigated soils for agricultural productivity and learned how to effectively lobby legislatures, organizations and other groups in support of agriculture.
"I love this; it's beautiful here in Upstate (New York)," said Wanbesly Nacelus, of Queens, who is in his second year in the John Bowne FFA chapter. "Because I'm an FFA member, I'm part of something much bigger."
FFA members, who commanded the campus with their widely recognized blue corduroy jackets with gold lettering, also completed service projects during their stay. They built a willow hut, filled sand boxes and built vertical gardens at the on-campus Childcare Center and also painted around campus.
“This is giving me a lot of experience,” said VVS FFA member Cody Minckler, 16, of Verona. “I have made so many new friends through FFA.”
Most attendees earned their way to the convention competing at local, regional and sub-state levels. The top students from the state convention competitions will go on to represent New York at the national competition.