Penn Yan FFA celebrates 80 years

Gwen Chamberlain
Penn Yan FFA Chapter President Brittany Griffin (at podium) thanks the officers, from left, Maren Andersen, Mark Kicher, Matt Dean, Sean Murphy, Perry Lewis and Corey Slocum for their teamwork.

In 1931 a Penn Yan teacher decided farm boys should have some kind of educational program, so he began the local Future Farmers of America Chapter. In 1969 the first female member was admitted and in the 1980s, girls were permitted to enroll in high school agriculture programs.

A lot has changed in those 80 years and the local chapter is now recognized as “a gem” of the school district, according to Interim Superintendent Tom Cox, who was among the speakers in last week’s FFA Annual Awards Banquet.

Another speaker, Penn Yan Academy Principal David Pullen, said he had researched the records of FFA members. Based on his findings for discipline (less than one referral per year), unexcused absences (1/2 day per year) and grades (member have an average GPA of 85), he’s recommending that starting this fall all Penn Yan Academy students become members of FFA.

The annual event is held to recognize the accomplishments of the members of the Penn Yan Chapter of FFA.

Pullen said whenever he visits the agriculture classroom he always sees students working productively and learning more than what’s taught in their textbooks.

Reflecting on the past year, FFA advisor John Kriese said, “I can’t think of a better year in my 26 years here. Can you imagine all the wonderful things we’ve done?”

Thanking the seniors for sharing their lives with him, he advised, “Always ask how you can get involved and you’ll have a wonderful life. Be a leader. Get involved. Show up and make a difference.”

Special awards and recognition were given to:

• Brendaya Parsons, named Outstanding Senior and recipient of the DEKALB Agricultural Accomplishment Award.

• Allison Hamm, the Sean Murdock Award

• Chris Conley,  Outstanding Member Award

• Taylor Haus, Appreciation Award

• Maren Andersen, Leadership Award

• Danielle Fulkrod, Outstanding Freshman

• Brittany Griffin, Outstanding Sophomore

• Sean Murphy, Outstanding Junior

Officers who were recognized for their contributions to the chapter were Brittany Grirrin, president; Mark Kicher, vice president; Maren Andersen, secretary; Matt Dean, student advisor; Perry Lewis, treasurer; Sean Murphy, reporter and Corey Slocum, Sentinel.

The chapter also honored volunteers who had supported the organization over the year. They are Martha Andersen, Karen Fingar, Charles Fulkrod, Denise Slocum, Elizabeth Warren and Lisa Wood.

In recognition of her support, the chapter presented former Superintendent Ann Orman with an honorary degree.

The Friend of the FFA Award was presented to the Penn Yan Fire Department for its support of the chapter. The fire department barbecues chicken for FFA fundraisers and events.

Before the awards ceremony, a banquet featuring barbecued chicken and lettuce that was grown hydroponically by the students, was served in the cafeteria.