An active year for Penn Yan FFA

Penn Yan FFA
Special to The Chronicle-Express

FFA Week will be Feb. 20-27

Even though COVID has changed a lot of the events for the Penn Yan FFA, we still have participated in many events this 2020-2021 year so far. Many of the events last spring and into the fall were held virtually, but the chapter has done many in person events as well.

We started the year off with an officer retreat to plan out what events and activities we could do this year both virtually and in person. One of our main goals was to complete activities that would fulfill the requirements of the National Chapter Award so we could apply again after being the first-ranked chapter in New York in 2020, and a 3-star chapter nationally. Our first activity was our highway clean-up. The Penn Yan FFA has an adopted section of State Route 54 just south of town that we clean up several times a year.

FFA cleans up a section of Route 54 just south of Penn Yan several times a year.

The chapter also worked with local farmers to provide ingredients for a virtual cooking class that had over 40 participants making a bacon corn chowder that was delicious.

We were excited to have an official Penn Yan FFA alumni chapter chartered this fall and they helped us with the Carve, Sip, and Trivia event held at Climbing Bines Hop Farm and hosting our annual Chicken BBQ in October. The chapter wants to thank everyone who supports the BBQ every year. We sold a record 560 dinners this year during the drive-through event.

The PYA FFA alumni chapter was chartered this fall and helped host the annual Chicken BBQ in October.

The chapter participated in several virtual events in the fall including the virtual National FFA Convention where we were recognized for being a 3-star chapter, and two leadership conferences hosted by the State FFA Association.

Our secretary Natalie Yonts worked with the elementary STEM classes to put on a virtual cider day for students. They learned about New York apple production and did an experiment to see what would keep an apple from browning after you cut it.

The annual Fruit and Cheese Sale was a huge success and the money raised has helped the chapter put on many events for our members, students and community at little to no cost to those participating. It also helped cover the costs of events we are putting on during National FFA Week.

In December, we had members try their hands at some virtual Career Development Event contests and put on a Senior Scholarship Silent Auction to raise money for scholarships for our 2020 graduates. The chapter hosted a Christmas party where we made winter cat shelters that were given out to farmers and others who have barn or feral cats that could use some warmth this winter. Members also wrote Christmas cards to residents of Penn Yan Manor, Clinton Crest, and The Homestead.

In December, the Senior Scholarship Silent Auction raised money for FFA's 2020 graduates.
FFA hosted a Christmas party where they made winter cat shelters they gave to those who have barn or feral cats needing to stay warm.

In January and February, the chapter hosted the third annual "Souper Bowl" Food Drive and collected just over 2,000 items that were donated to the Living Well in Penn Yan. Thank you to everyone who donated to this food drive. It was our highest collection total to date with this event.

The chapter hosted its third annual “Souper Bowl” Food Drive, collecting a record number of over 2,000 items donated to the Living Well in Penn Yan.

Five members helped put on a Dog Safety day with elementary classes teaching students about how to respect dogs, approach them and read body language of dogs as many times dog bites come from children not knowing how to read a dog's behavior.

The Penn Yan FFA chapter will be celebrating National FFA week with the following activities. At PYE, students will participate in a coloring contest and at PYMS and PYA students will participate in a daily trivia contest all week. FFA members will also have a special luncheon Tuesday, Feb. 23 to complete a leadership workshop and meet with the Peterson Farm Brothers from Kansas. If you have never heard of them, just do a quick YouTube search and you will find their song parody videos that feature agriculture. Members are also planning to do a staff appreciation each day with small gifts as part of National FFA Week.

FFA members have also put together "adoption crates" and are partnering with the Humane Society to set a goal of three dogs and five cats adopted during National FFA week. Anyone who adopts an animal from Feb. 20-27 will receive a wooden crate filled with a tie fleece blanket and toys all made by PY FFA members.

FFA members also worked with the Keuka Candy Emporium to create a chocolate mold of the FFA emblem and they will be available for purchase at the store on Main Street.

Listen to WFLR during National FFA week for your chance to answer trivia questions and win an FFA shirt! You can also stop into the Penn Yan Tractor Supply Company and purchase a paper emblem to help support Agriculture Education and FFA from Feb. 17-28.

We are FFA

Connor Moore - President, Senior

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: Going on the National FFA trip, participating in Empire Farm Day contests and district contests with Brennan Daily.

Q: Why should students join the FFA?

A: Because it is one of the most fun and learning experiences you will ever have.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

A: Going to Cobleskill and get my bachelor's in ag business, probably transfer to Oswego get my teaching degree, and become an ag teacher and raise beef on the side, not sure really; I'm also maybe becoming a full time Ag mechanic with my own shop because that what I'm good at and that's what I like to do.

Connor Moore, president of Penn Yan FFA

Mason Bishop - Vice President, Senior

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: Hanging out in the ag shop, the officer retreat, and planting trees at the nature center in Branchport.

Q: Why should students join the FFA?

A: It is a great way to make friends and see people from a different light. I wish I had gotten into it sooner.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

A: I am going to go to FLCC and then into the military.

Mason Bishop, vice president of Penn Yan FFA

Natalie Yonts - Secretary, Sophomore

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: Some of my favorite memories with the chapter are the annual cider days, Empire Farm Days every summer, and the officers retreat we had in September.

Q: Why should students join the FFA?

A: The list of reasons to join FFA goes on and on. This organization has so much to offer and I would absolutely encourage students to join. Even if you don't want to go into the field of agriculture as an adult, the skills you will take away from FFA are beneficial to everyone.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

A: After graduating from PYA, I am planning to attend FLCC to major in viticulture and enology before going to California to continue my education.

Natalie Yonts, secretary of Penn Yan FFA

Lee Miller - Treasurer, Senior

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: Empire Farm Days and our mini officer retreat in Mrs. Bossard's room.

Q: Why should students join the FFA?

A: There is no lack of opportunities when it comes to being a member of FFA. From leadership skill building to food sciences, there is no limitation to what you can do in agriculture without actually needing to be a farmer.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

A: I am going to attend classes at FLCC to get my associate's degree and we'll see from there.

Lee Miller, treasurer of Penn Yan FFA

Jennifer Martens - Reporter, Sophomore

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: 2019 Empire farm days, 2020 officer Retreat

Q: Why should students join the FFA?

A: Because FFA isn't just a club, it's a family.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

A: I'm going to go to college to be a FBI agent.

Jen Martens, reporter with Penn Yan FFA

Mackenzie Sapp - Sentinel, Junior

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: I would have to say one of my favorite FFA memories would be my first NY state convention.

Q: Why should students join the FFA?

A: Students should join the FFA because our organization is fun and you can learn about the agriculture industry and how it helps people all around the globe.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

A: I plan to attend a trade school to become an electrician.

Mackenzie Sapp, sentinel with Penn Yan FFA

Carlie Bossard - Advisor

Q: What are some of your favorite FFA memories?

A: The National Convention trips are some of my favorite times being an FFA advisor. Doing the tours and meeting with people all across the US is amazing. I also love going up to Camp Oswegatchie in the summertime and taking students to the Adirondacks to "unplug" (since there is no cell phone reception). Oswegatchie is one of my favorite places to be, it is so calm and peaceful and the scenery is amazing.

Q: Why would you recommend joining FFA?

A: I went to a high school that did not have an FFA chapter and I did not learn about FFA and agricultural education until I was in college. Several of my friends in college all grew up in FFA and many were past state FFA officers. I felt very left out that I never got these amazing opportunities students in agricultural education have. The leadership potential, contests, awards, career opportunities, I would have loved it! Sadly, I never wore that iconic blue corduroy jacket, and I strive to inform students of the opportunities FFA has to offer since I never had them myself.

Agricultural Education at Penn Yan Academy

FFA is only one component of the three-circle model of Agricultural Education. Agricultural Education includes FFA (student organization), Classroom Instruction (Ag classes in high school) and SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experiences). At Penn Yan Academy students have the opportunity to take six different agricultural courses.

-- Introduction to Agriculture is an introductory level class. Students will learn about FFA and start their SAE project, but also learn about a little bit of everything with agriculture including animal science, plant science, mechanics, food science, and environmental science. A highlight of this class is tapping the maple trees on campus and turning it into sweet maple syrup!

-- Horticulture and Food Science is a very hands-on class. Students work out in the greenhouse throughout the year working with the hydroponics to produce different crops. They also create monthly flower arrangements that are sold to staff. This year they will be helping with the care of our new honey bees this spring!

-- Small Animal Science is a basic veterinary science class focusing on companion animals. Students learn basic anatomy and physiology, then skills like how to properly restrain animals, administer medications, bandage and suture, and training.

-- Large Animal Science focuses on the production side of the animal industry. Students learn about the basic care of dairy and beef cows, pigs, horses, sheep and goats. They learn about reproduction and the products that we harvest from these different animals. The class visits local farms to practice skills they have learned in class.

-- Environmental Science investigates wildlife, soils, water, energy and forestry. Students in this class learn about forest management and how to identify trees. A highlight of this class is receiving day-old pheasant chicks from the DEC and raising them to be released into the wild.

-- Agricultural Mechanics works mainly in the shop throughout the year tearing down engines and rebuilding them, doing electrical wiring, basic plumbing and hydraulics, surveying and welding. Students have the opportunity to create a final welding project which has ranged from boot racks to feed wagons!

By taking a combination of agriculture and other CTE courses students can graduate with a Career and Technical Education Endorsement. They must complete a sequence of courses, have a work study program, and pass a nationally recognized test. This shows that students have learned skills that employers are looking for in their employees.

National FFA Week is Feb. 20-27