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Ag education and FFA programs on the rise in NY

In World
February 24, 2024

Feb. 23—Agriculture education and Future Farmers of America chapters have grown across the state over the past seven years, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Hochul made the announcement Friday, Feb. 23, in a media release during National FFA Week, which ends Feb. 24. Since 2016, the number of agricultural teachers has grown to 412 in 2023, a more than 75% increase. 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. The governor’s 2024 State of the State and 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.

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, the release said.

Alongside this growth in teachers, the number of FFA charters and members has also increased, the release said. There are 200 chapters and nearly 12,000 FFA members in the state, the release said. According to the fact sheet from Cornell University, which oversees the state’s FFA chapters, there are chapters in 53 of New York’s 62 counties, including locally in Chenango, Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties, and in two unlikely counties — Kings and Queens.

Local school districts that have agriculture teachers and FFA chapters are: Afton, Bainbridge-Guilford, Otselic Valley, Oxford, Sherburne-Earlville and Unadilla Valley in Chenango County; Delaware Academy, Sidney and Walton in Delaware County; Richfield Springs in Otsego County; and Cobleskill-Richmondville, Middleburgh, Schoharie and Sharon Springs in Schoharie County. In addition FFA chapters are located at both campuses of Otsego-Northern Catskills and Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES.

In the 2024 state 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 program, the release said. In the 2024 State of the State, she proposed holding a youth agriculture leadership conference. In the proposed 2025 budget, she called for an increase of $250,000 to support FFA, 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 budget in support of Urban Agricultural Education and $50,000 for the MANRRS program. Together, these programs help meet the growing demand for agricultural education across New York.

“Our agricultural teachers and FFA leadership are so passionate about building the future of this industry,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said in the release. “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.”

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