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Community celebrates agriculture, FFA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2014 at 12:00 am

Nearly 200 turn out for Farmer to Neighbor Night

Photos by Tom Rivers

The Orleans-Niagara Dairy Princess Liz Meyer of Medina, right, serves up some milk punch with assistance from Jayne Bannister of Waterport, a dairy ambassador. They were part of the 16th annual Farmer to Neighbor Night on Saturday at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

The event was sponsored by the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, OC Soil and Water Conservation District, OC Farm Bureau and OC Chamber of Commerce.

Sara Millspaugh, president of the Albion FFA, delivers a prepared speech in front of about 200 people at Saturday’s Farmer to Neighbor Night. Millspaugh spoke about the need to battle hunger and highlighted the FFA’s effort to bring 19,000 pounds of produce to Community Action last December. FFA was formerly known as Future Farmers of America. It has expanded to become a leadership program.

Jack Hill, a junior FFA member in Medina, recites the FFA creed.

Haley Maier, 11, of Gasport was recognized during the banquet as one of two winners state-wide with a “Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.”

Tom Healy, a certified financial planner for Prudential, tells the crowd how Haley makes necklaces that she sells to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Haley was nominated for the award by the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Association. She is a member of the Lyndonville Mogrels 4-H Club.

Haley makes the necklaces in honor of her grandmother. Haley said she wants to expand her line of merchandise for the Alzheimer’s Association. She will be honored during a conference in Washington, D.C., where two winners from each state will be recognized. During the trip in May, 10 of 102 youth volunteers from around the country will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014.

Todd Eick, FFA advisor in Medina, thanked the community for supporting the FFA program. Medina will be hosting the state convention in May. Eick said he welcomes volunteers and judges, as well as donations for the event.

About 1,500 FFA students will be in Medina for the three-day convention, which was in Albion in May 2013.

“It’s a huge honor for Orleans County to host the convention two years in a row,” said Adam Krenning, Albion’s FFA advisor.

One nearby school – Roy-Hart – announced in January it was starting an FFA program.

State Sen. George Maziarz addressed the group and touted state legislation to encourage young farmers to pursue agriculture. That legislation would vastly reduce the estate tax, making it easier for farms to be transferred to a younger generation.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley also addressed the group. He said the “Farm Death Bill,” which would force farmers to pay overtime and give workers collective bargaining rights, could again be brought up in Albany. Hawley opposes the bill, as does New York Farm Bureau. They say it would put NY farms at a competitive disadvantage with other states that don’t have overtime requirements.