Contribution of future farmers celebrated at Verona convention

HEAVE HO — The Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Future Farmers of America team, made up of President Neal Collins, Justin Smaltz, Social Studies teacher Ken Regner, Billy Terrell and driver William Hilts, compete in the State Convention Tractor Pull at the New York State FFA Convention held May 3-5 at V-V-S High School. (Submitted photo)

VERONA — More than 1,200 students, teachers and guests from throughout the state descended upon the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill community to participate in the New York State Future Farmers of America Convention held May 3-5.

The Oneida County destination was filled with teen-agers participating in leadership and agricultural competitions, receiving awards and running for state level leadership positions.

The event theme, "The Signature of Success," outlined six qualities that serve as markers of quality in individuals that are successful. Throughout the three-day event, students were recognized and challenged to build up the characteristics of Generosity, Hunger, Vision, Growth, Dignity and Tradition. Students competed in Career Development Events, earned scholarships, received cash prizes and were recognized on stage.

"Whether it’s serving communities, winning Career Development Events or making lasting contributions to the food, fiber and natural resources systems, FFA could not claim to be successful without the accomplishments earned by its individual members," State FFA President and senior at Belleville Henderson Central School J.W. Allen said. "The world we live in needs us to be successful now, more than ever before. We hope to recognize students and help them to see the things they’re doing have real impact."

Throughout the convention, more than 500 awards, degrees and other forms of recognition were distributed to FFA members. Students and teachers were recognized for the influence they have in their schools, communities and the agricultural industry.

State Treasurer Elizabeth Bracken, of Tri-Valley Central School, delivered a speech entitled, "Inexhaustible Magic" Saturday morning.

"The words we say go straight to the heart of an issue, of a community or of a person," Bracken said. "Imagine the impact we could have as 1,000 teen-agers who go back to our communities and speak inexhaustible encouragement, inexhaustible belief, inexhaustible affection, humor, love, life."

"This is what FFA is all about," said State FFA Executive Secretary Juleah Tolosky. "FFA provides opportunities for these teen-agers to challenge themselves and accomplish something significant that is individualized and preparing them for careers and community leadership."

The FFA is a national youth leadership organization for students enrolled in agriculture classes in their middle and high schools.