Farmer to Neighbor dinner has thrived with student connection
LYNDONVILLE – They came to celebrate Orleans County’s top industry – the $100 million-plus generated annually by the local farm economy – and to be inspired by a new crop of future farmers.
About 200 people, including elected officials from throughout the county, attended the March 9 Farmer to Neighbor dinner at the White Birch Golf Course.
“Agriculture is very representative of Orleans County,” said David Callard, County Legislature chairman. “Agriculture represents a quality of life in Orleans County.”
FFA students from Albion and Medina shared the limelight at the event. The two chapters will take turns hosting the state FFA convention 1,200 students and 250 judges due in Albion from May 2-4 for the convention. Next year it will shift to Medina.
Each chapter convinced a panel from the state FFA that they had the right facilities, activities and farm community. The diversity of local agriculture – fruit, vegetables, dairy, maple and more – is one reason why the FFA chapters from around the state want to come to Orleans County, said Barry Flansburg, the Albion Alumni FFA president.
He served as master of ceremonies during the March 9 event, but gladly shared the microphone with local FFA students. Alexis Maines, an Albion seventh-grader, recited the FFA creed in front of the crowd. Chantelle Kidney, a 15-year-old from Medina, delivered a speech about legislation that would ban youths under age 16 from using farm machinery.
Chantelle told the group the youths benefit from working with machinery, making a bigger impact on a farm. They use the tools with respect and care, she said.
Lydia Erakare of Albion sang the national anthem and other FFA students handed out items won in an auction.
The students have been featured in the annual dinner since 2009, when Albion celebrated the 100th anniversary of its agriculture program. The response was so enthusiastic from the crowd, seeing the FFA students in their blue corduroy coats, that the students have been coming back. Attendance has nearly doubled since the FFA students were included in the annual celebration.
“It makes people see there is a future,” Flansburg said.
During the dinner, the Orleans County Farm Bureau also honored long-time Daily News staff writer Ginny Kropf for her years of coverage of the farm community. Margo Bowerman, the 4-H team coordinator, also was recognized for her 13 years of service. She is taking a job with 4-H in Minnesota.