Tri-Valley Central School’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) Club attended the New York State Convention from May 12-14 in Syracuse, New York and was awarded the Top Chapter in New York State …
Tri-Valley Central School’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) Club attended the New York State Convention from May 12-14 in Syracuse, New York and was awarded the Top Chapter in New York State for 2022.
This means that the Tri-Valley FFA will be in contention to compete on the National Level in several areas and will compete to become a Top 10 Chapter in the Nation.
Tara Berescik, Agricultural Teacher and FFA Advisor, explained that the FFA is an “intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership.”
She also explained that the group helps students find success in “leadership, personal growth, career success through agricultural education,” and the FFA is committed to helping the next generation develop talents and skills in the “broad range of agricultural career pathways.”
Tri-Valley offers three components of agricultural education: classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experience, and the FFA, which is the leadership component of agricultural education. When the FFA attended the FFA Convention, students were able to come together with nearly 2,000 other FFA members and compete in Agricultural Mechanics, Junior Quiz Bowl, Discussion Meet, Food Science, Floriculture, Agricultural Communications and State Talent. Berescik proudly noted her students’ accomplishments: “Jasmine Grimilia, a freshman, placed first in the State for Discussion Meet, and the Agricultural Communications Team of Katie Dauch, Jasmine Grimila, Mya Ibarra and Tabitha Mulholland placed second in the state with individuals placing third, seventh, eighth and eleventh overall.” In addition, Jacob Lucak received the District 2 Star for Agricultural Placement, and Gail McAndrew received the District 2 Star Farmer Award. Moreover, nine students received the highest individual honor one can receive at the state level: the Empire Degree. Louis Bilancione, Adam Furman, Briar Knight, Melanie Leis, Jacob Lucak, Gail McAndrew, Dylan Poley, Keegan Stroop, and Brooke VanAken all received this degree with Mrs. Danielle Penney-Stroop receiving an Honorary Empire Degree. Berescik noted that only 15 people in the state received this honor in 2022. Another member that was highlighted was Alora Carey, a 2021 graduate, who won the 2022 State Proficiency in Equine Science. Carey will represent New York at Nationals.
Berescik explained that the highlight of the trip was being awarded the Top Chapter in New York State for 2022. The FFA competed and won in the three areas that they competed in: Growing Leaders, Building Communities, and Strengthening Agriculture, and they will go on to compete in those areas at Nationals. Growing Leaders projects included holding an annual banquet, improving healthy lifestyles, enhancing scholarship through agricultural trivia challenges, enlisting members to work for the Tri-Valley Blooms classroom flower shop, and promoting members who strive for success. Building Communities featured projects like holding stream quality evaluations, running a 39 raised bed community garden, supplying flowers for local elder care facilities, working with stakeholders to implement a Dove for the Grahamsville Fairgrounds, and donating hundreds of pounds of fruit to local foodbanks during the holiday seasons. The final area, Strengthening Agriculture, saw five different projects: the FFA assisted with the Scavenger Hunt at the Grahamsville Little World’s Fair, planned a chapter recruitment BBQ, which boosted membership to over 350 members in grades 6-12, offered a Tractor Safety course, hosted a Big Apple Crunch event that provided apples to over 770 students and staff members, and held presentations on animal care and management.
Berescik explained that to be awarded the Top Chapter, the FFA members had to develop goals and purposes for their activities with evaluations. The FFA submitted a thirty-page application to be judged against all other chapters in New York, and Tri-Valley won in all areas.
The members of the FFA are now looking forward to competing against over 8,000 FFA chapters nationwide and had a great time at the State Convention. Katie Dauch, a freshman, stated, "The best part of State FFA Convention was talking with people who share similar experiences. This was first real state FFA experience since COVID and I can't wait to get to do more on the state level." Ashley Wightman, an advisor for the FFA said, "I'm extremely proud of our junior members and freshman for trying something new. It's always nice to see kids excited about something!" Adam Furman, a junior, expressed his pride for his accomplishment, "It was an honor to get my Empire Degree. It's a family tradition since my grandfather and father were members of the FFA."
Berescik explained that the upcoming National Convention usually sees over 60,000 people attend and will share more information as it becomes available. She also expressed that she was glad to see that Covid has not ruined the desire to learn and experience. “The FFA Motto is 'Learning to Do, Doing to Learning, Earning to Live and Living to Serve' and it always makes me happy that Tri-Valley members take this to heart. Covid has taken away a lot over the last few years, but our members still want to learn and serve. This was evident at the Convention, and I can't wait to see what the members achieve next,” she said.
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