2019 Food and Farm Experience Testimony

Victoria Daoust, NCC

School Counselor 9-12

Hamilton Central School 

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the Food and Farm Experience of 2019 hosted by the New York Farm Bureau Foundation. After wrapping up the PSAT with our juniors and some sophomores, I took the beautiful drive down Route 13 to Corning, New York treated along the way with the stunning peak foliage!

The purpose of this conference was to support and enable school counselors’ and educators’ efforts of bringing agricultural education to their learning environments. The diversity of what is considered agriculture was astonishing. We heard from dairy farmers and cheese makers, but we also heard from a marketing director for the Seneca Wine Trail and a Human Resources Specialist from Leprino Cheese in Waverly, NY. If you’ve ever had a Pizza Hut pizza- that’s Leprino’s Mozzarella Cheese! A Christmas Tree Farmer, Chemung County Soil and Water, a Forester, an Apple Orchard Farmer, Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill producers, NY Turf Grass Association- truly the list goes on!

The message they all shared was the same – whatever a student’s interests, skillsets and level of education, there is a seat for all at the agricultural table! We were fortunate enough to be able to tour a number of agricultural businesses: Sunset view Creamery, Stoney Ridge Winery, Upstate Niagara Cheese, and Glenview Dairy LLC. Large or small, all of these businesses have a need for individuals who can bring their expertise and passion. Whether that be driving a milk truck, monitoring delicate PH, or fixing a multi-million-dollar piece of machinery when a sensor is sounding.

I was proud to be able to share with the group of Hamilton’s outstanding agricultural program. Not only are our students exposed to the world of agriculture, they are provided hands-on learning opportunities and develop various life skills. Proudly, we are one of a handful of districts in the state who are able to utilize out in-house agricultural program as a pathway towards graduation! The message remains the same to students, follow your passion in life, but don’t be surprised if that passion brings you to the world of agriculture!