2018 Food & Farm Experience (FFX) Summary
The NYFB Foundation sponsored its fourth FFFX on October 17 through 19, as thirty-three school counselors, career advisors, school superintendents and others associated with students’ future career choices from across New York State gathered in Poughkeepsie, New York, for three days of intense exploration into the area of agricultural careers through the insights of workforce development with industry leaders, employers and professionals in workshops, tours, and a trade show. Joining this group were three farmer members; Eric Ooms, Jackie Kelder and Betty Getty, who provided some information and insights to their FFX peers and had the opportunity to share the experience.
Crucial conversations rooted in the necessity to be proactive in educating the next generation of our workforce about the vast opportunities in agriculture was heard firsthand from employers and instructors who shared the varied pathways they have taken to their current place in agriculture. They helped the counselors understand what skills and knowledge they are seeking in potential hires, the challenges in securing a workforce, the proactive investments they are making in tomorrow’s workforce and some of the opportunities available to learn more about agriculture.
The FFX 2018 opened with an Ag 101 workshop for an ag introduction, followed by a reception and dinner for time to “get acquainted”. An employer panel provided some insights as the group settled into the conference. Our first day included several workshop leaders who shared their story, as well as a Farm Credit East presentation which included their programs and opportunities as well as diversified positions. We were treated to a wonderful presentation by the Dutchess County Teen Ambassadors and the facilitators about their recent trip to Austria where they learned about local ag technology and potential.
We then left the Poughkeepsie Grand for our tour. Adams Fairacre Farm Market (Mark Adams) provided a tour of the Poughkeepsie store together with commentary from a variety of managers, Angry Orchards (Jamie Correo, Facility Manager and Jeff Crist, apple farmer extraordinaire) served samples and guided the group through the facility, educational center and orchard. The next stop was Blue Chip Horse Farm (Jean Brown, General Manager) the leading commercial Standardbred breeding and boarding farm in NY, where the group had a chance to see the facility and horses and learn about the industry. These tours permitted participants to get an up-close look at various sectors of the agriculture industry while becoming more acquainted with newer technologies being used in agriculture to stimulate inquiry and interest.
Dinner at the Mill House Brewing Co. included another “tasting” and an opportunity to interact with Larry Stock, proprietor and brew master, to learn about the many career opportunities and his own experience and pathway. After dinner comments were shared by Theresa Sweeney, NYS Dept. of Ag & Markets. The networking and conversations about agriculture were at an all-time high as FFX participants shared with each other and enjoyed the local tastes of agriculture.
Our final day included an industry outlook panel with Cornell, SUNY Morrisville, NY Wine & Grape Foundation, NY Turfgrass Assoc., SUNY Delhi, USDA APHIS, and DFA represented who shared their own personal ag career roadmap as well as the many opportunities within their organization and/or education unit. The diversification and opportunity was underscored and hit home for many of the participants.
CTLE credits were offered for FFX and Terry Hughes shared a great deal of information together with his passion for the industry. Then the participants “wrapped up” the session with evaluations and comments and a quick review of the session. Good byes were said, but with the understanding that the network established will be used for many things!
In summary of the event, participants are quoted as saying….
“This event was awesome. Thank you for the way in which you took care of us. Many lessons learned from the trips and the presentations. We are already at work planning to develop our “farm” next year.I am looking forward to greater collaboration with you.”
“I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for a fantastic conference last week. It was great from start to finish. I am a new career coordinator and the conference provided me so much valuable information. I also want to thank you for the materials you gave us on the flash drive – I am just looking them now – very valuable.”
“Absolutely wonderful conference, great job! My district is already thinking about a job fair for Ag careers.😀”
We want to recognize and thank those organizations that supported the 2018 FFX: Pioneer Hybrid International, the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance, Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York and Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation. Check our website for more detail about our agenda and presenters, who we thank and could not have had this success without their sharing. We will be adding a variety of information in the coming month. Watch for updates about the FFX 2019, which will continue to focus on the middle and high school counselors who impact our youth, our industry and our economy.
Photos from 2018 FFX: