By: Sandie Prokop
NYFB Foundation Managing Director
The first Feast of the season was held at Brown’s Brewing, Revolution Hall in Troy, New York on a snowy Friday, March 22, but the weather didn’t stop nearly 100 supporters from joining in the festivities. The historic hall is located on the scenic Hudson River. The aura and charm of the area is totally evident at Brown’s. The reception was enhanced with a tasting by local cheese artisan, R&G Cheese, Sean O’Connor. The entree of choice was accompanied by a tremendous selection of New York State wines donated by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. Those who joined in the festivities were an amazing and diverse group of agricultural education supporters including several political and industry leaders.
Tim Marbot, Rensselaer County Farm Bureau President, welcomed the group and Jeff Kirby, the Executive Director of the Foundation was the Master of Ceremonies. Following an invocation by past director, Peter Ten Eyck, and a heartwarming toast by Melissa Mirabile of UBS, a Foundation Director as well as a Feast sponsor, all enjoyed a fabulous meal complimented by many local products.
The Food & Farm Experience, a two-day boot camp for middle and high school career counselors, was reviewed and explained highlighting the tremendous success the program has experienced and the amazing potential it holds for every community. FFX 2018 graduate, Richard Zwirn, a school counselor for 24 years at Greenwich Central School, who has found his calling and loves his work, shared his experience and comments. He grew up in New York City, where farming was the furthest thing from his mind. Now, it is the bedrock of his school and community. He also owns and operates a thoroughbred breeding farm outside of Saratoga Springs, New York.
The evening wrapped up with the raffle drawing, with the grand prize Childress framed print, “No New Taxes” and 12 New York “local” Commodity Collections, taken home by 12 Feast attendees, were filled with great local products and tastes, plus we drew for raffle winners who took home cheese donated by Cabot.
Thank you to all who helped in so many ways and to the many supporters and sponsors. From the “tasting” reception and wonderful dinner which highlighted many local partners. Please be sure to check the Foundation website for a listing of its many donors and sponsors who all support its agricultural education programs.
The second Feast of the season was held at Club 86 in Geneva, New York. The wonderful central location complimented by the great food, super service and local wines were wonderful. Those who joined in the festivities were an amazing group of agriculture education supporters. The reception was enhanced with tastings by Muranda Cheese Company, Anthony Road Wine Co., Crafty Ales and Lagers, Webe Brewing, Cabot Cheese, Shirk Meats, Catherine Valley Crackers and the wonderful selection presented by Club 86.
Kim Skellie, Ontario County Farm Bureau President, welcomed the group with a bit of agricultural trivia and warmed things up for our pre-dinner emcee, Paul Fouts, Chair of the Foundation board and NYFB Director. Following an invocation by Lin Davidson, a Foundation Director and NYFB Board member, and a heartwarming toast by Karen Cartier, a member of the Foundation board and Director of Membership for DFA, all enjoyed a fabulous meal. County Farm Bureau supporters included Seneca, Schuyler, Ontario, Wayne and Yates.
The post-dinner emcee, John Sorbello, a Foundation and NYFB board member, introduced Earl LaGrou, vice president and CEO of Lamb & Webster, the event’s premier sponsor for the past five years, who added to the after-dinner message with his testimonial to Foundation support and the importance of telling your story. The program included an update for Foundation programs, with a focus on the continuing Food & Farm Experience. Laura Fratangelo, FFX graduate in 2016, shared her story and the impacts of the program. Laura has been a School Counselor at Hilton High School for two years and previously a School Counselor at Geneva High School for four and a half years. Prior to that, she worked at Wayne Technical & Career Center where she served in a counseling capacity for students. The Experience provides tools, resources, contacts and information for counselors and advisors of middle and high school students about education and careers in agriculture, to be held Oct. 16-18 in Corning, NY.
The evening wrapped up with the raffle drawing, with the grand prize a Childress framed print, plus the 12 New York “local” commodity collections, and gifts from Red Jacket Orchards, Muranda Cheese, and Palladino and Carley Farms. Thank you to all who helped in so many ways and to the many supporters and sponsors. From the “tasting” reception to the Champagne toast and the wonderful dinner which showcased many local partners, including the numerous wineries, distilleries, and breweries who donated product, to the dessert finale. Please be sure to check the website for a listing of the many donors and sponsors who all support the Foundation’s agricultural education programs.