By: John Sorbello
NYFB Foundation Board of Directors
Through the years I’ve become quite involved with New York Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agricultural Education, currently serving as vice-chair of the board. At times I’ve been asked why I feel so strongly about supporting the Foundation. My answer is simple, the Foundation’s mission, educating all New Yorkers regarding agriculture, and working to bridge the gap between the farm and non-farm public resonates nowadays more than ever. As our country has become less agrarian based, and more industrial/service oriented, the vast majority of our population has lost any ties to farm life. At the same time, farms have evolved considerably. Adaption of technology to improve efficiency, productivity, and product quality have (in many cases), changed drastically the “look and feel” of the family farm. In my opinion, these changes have taken that farm/non-farm gap and transformed it into a chasm.
By using a multi-pronged approach, the Foundation is stepping up to address this divide. Developing and implementing a wide variety of tools and programs, we are able to reach a very broad range of people. Agriculture facts school calendars are distributed annually to almost 6,000 classrooms throughout the state, reaching thousands of students. These young folks are, not only future consumers, but maybe even more importantly, future voters and legislators. Going forward, the importance of educating policy makers and the general public, will, I believe, rise to unprecedented prominence. A people who embrace scientifically proven facts to form their opinions, will be a people less inclined to be misled by groups or individuals promoting an anti-agriculture agenda.
The Foundation’s Food & Farm Experience has been targeting high school career counselors. This two-day program includes visits to farms and agriculture-related businesses, as well as individual speakers, and a group panel discussion. By participating in this program, these counselors are learning of the many exciting career opportunities today’s agriculture world has to offer! The overwhelmingly positive testimonials from participants indicates the importance and relevance of this type of program.
The agriculture facts school calendars, and the Food & Farm Experience are just two examples of the many educational tools and programs offered by the Foundation. There are way too many to mention in this article! From coloring books for the very young, to commodity brochures, kiosks, and much more! The mission of the Foundation is more relevant today than ever before. Why do I support the Foundation? Put simply, it’s just too darned important not to!