Nine students from the TST New Visions FFA Chapter joined over 100 of their peers and teachers from across the New York at the State Capitol to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917. As a result of this landmark federal legislation, a cohesive national system of career and technical education (of which agricultural education is a part) was developed and continues today.
During the two-day celebration, students and teachers had dinner with government officials, including Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball, who presented a Proclamation from Governor Cuomo commemorating the occasion.
“For years, agricultural education programs have encouraged millions of young people to pursue higher education and become strong leaders in their chosen fields,” Ball said. “The Smith-Hughes Act was a major part of strengthening that effort across the country and I am thrilled to be part of the celebration of this historic milestone. Here in New York, we are proud be a national leader when it comes to agriculture education and I am grateful to be part of an administration that recognizes the importance of carrying that legacy forward.”
The celebration continued on Tuesday with two events for students. First, students led interactive demonstrations in the “Well” of the Legislative Office Building. The TST New Visions program along with nine other FFA Chapters, displayed their knowledge about hydroponics, maple production, animal science, research, and more. TST New Visions students from Candor, Ithaca, Trumansburg, Newfield, and South Seneca School Districts presented their research projects and discussed their experiences in agricultural education with thousands of people, including elected government officials.
The second program was for chapter presidents in which Bella Culotta (Ithaca) and Ryan Besemer (Lansing) attended a Chapter Presidents Leadership Conference where they attended workshops, as well as a private session in the Executive Chamber with the Lieutenant Governor. Additionally, they watched the State Assembly in action and attended a Senate Agriculture Standing Committee Meeting where some of their peers provided testimony about the importance of agricultural education. Finally, Jack Murphy (Trumansburg) shadowed Senator Cathy Young’s staff as they hosted a Senate Finance Committee meeting in the Capitol.
When asked about the event, Michele Kline, teacher of the TST New Visions in Life Sciences program, added “It is always rewarding to bring students to our State Capitol. This celebration helped policymakers truly see the value of agricultural education but more importantly, I believe by providing opportunities for our students to see government they are more comfortable participating in government as adults.”
The TST New Visions in Life Sciences is a program sponsored by the Cornell’s School of Integrated Plant Science and offered by TST BOCES for high achieving high school seniors from nine area high schools. For more information about the program, click here.