Albion’s Krenning named top ag teacher in NYS

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2016 at 12:00 am
Adam Krenning

Photo by Tom Rivers – Adam Krenning, an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Albion, shows buds and blossoms on apple trees to elementary students last week at the FFA land lab. Krenning has led the FFA program for 16 years.

ALBION – It was 16 years ago when Adam Krenning was hired as Albion’s agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. The program then was in danger of being shut down because of limited student participation.

The program has thrived and grown under Krenning, tripling in size. It is considered one of the strongest in the state. in 2014, the New York Association of Agricultural Educators named Albion the state winner of the “Outstanding Middle School/Secondary School Program.”

Albion has twice hosted the state FFA convention in Krenning’s tenure, and several Albion students have served in state leadership roles, including Sara Millspaugh who was state FFA president this past year.

The program can add another honor: Ag Teacher of the Year in New York for Krenning. He will receive the award from the New York Association of Agricultural Educators on June 28 in Albany.

Krenning is being recognized for how the program has grown and excelled, as well as the strong ties to the local farm community. The local farmers give 30,000 pounds of produce after the harvest season to benefit Community Action and local food pantries, a collection organized by the Albion FFA.

The farmers also work with students to plant and harvest crops at the FFA Land Lab on school property along Clarendon Road.

“With Adam you can see his true commitment to students in the activities that he does,” said Erin McCaffrey, president of the NYA Agricultural Educators and FFA advisor and ag teacher for Stockbridge Valley Central School.

Krenning teaches classes on ag business, ag science, leadership, vet science and more. Many of the students complete supervised ag education projects, documenting cost of raising livestock or other farm products, and comparing that with revenue.

Krenning pushed to create the 5-acre Land Lab to make his classes “as hands-on as possible.” The Land Lab functions like “an experiential learning classroom” where Krenning said students measure the distance between apple trees and crops, and try different fertilizers to see which are most effective, among their many assignments.

Adam Krenning, Steve Nesbitt and Barry Flansburg

FFA Advisor Adam Krenning, left, and Albion apple grower Steve Nesbitt discuss apple tree planting strategy at the FFA Land Lab in this photo from 2014. Barry Flansburg is behind the steering wheel. Nesbitt donated many of the trees, an example of the local farm community’s support of the Albion agriculture program.

Krenning said the community support has allowed the Albion program to grow and thrive. He said students are committed to the program, and community service, whether it’s the annual food collection for Community Action, reading to elementary students in Ag Literacy Week, or hosting a Mini Farm where students can see farm animals brought in for a day at the ag shop.

McCaffrey said the number of farm families is declining in the state, yet the FFA is seeing a resurgence as many students, including those who don’t live on farms, join the FFA to gain leadership skills, learn about food production and try to connect with service projects.

Ag educators feel a little vulnerable, McCaffrey said, because the programs aren’t state mandated. The ag teachers have to continually work hard to prove their worth. Some schools without FFA and ag programs see the success in other school districts and are trying to start programs, McCaffrey said.

“Schools are trying to rejuvenate programs, but it’s hard to find teachers like Adam. That’s the biggest hurdle, finding teachers with passion.”

Krenning also is eligible to be considered for the national ag teacher award. A committee will pick six regional winners to compee for the national award.

Krenning, who grew up on a fruit farm and hog operation near Knowlesville, wants to add more to the Albion program, including a Field to Table initiative wherestudents would make meals from food they grow in the Land Lab. Krenning would like to see the students develop recipes that could be handed out during the annual food drive for Community Action.