NY FFA Speaks Issue #1 September 2013
To All Partners in Agricultural Education,
Attached is a newsletter from the State Officer Team. This is being done as an added value activity from what used to be simply district newsletters. Not only can students see content from their district but they can see what students across the state are doing.
Please print out a copy of this newsletter for sharing. It includes information about upcoming events and past successes. If you have information you’d like included in future issues you can contact your district president or email the line officers directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. They’d be thrilled to feature your students and events.
Thanks for helping to distribute this to your students and supporters!
New York FFA Executive Secretary
Youth Program Specialist
FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
Two major, unrelated events prompted a desire for action in NYS FFA Officers. October 24-27, students participated in the Rally to Fight Hunger at the National FFA Convention. The day after they returned home, Hurricane Sandy came ashore and resulted in devastation that consumed the news and social media for days. The storm damage made it impossible not to see the need people had in New York and the officer team wanted to respond, somehow.
A series of messages were sent back and forth between the 14 member team of students. From their locations in separate parts of the state, officers contemplated how to respond to the need from the storm but also to do it in a way that aligned with the beliefs of the organization. A partnership with the New York Farm Bureau triggered in a plan that would not only respond to needs of those displaced and set back by Hurricane Sandy, but also bring awareness to a real issue that exists in every part of the state at every time of the year. Farm Bureau annually collects donations for regional food banks through the Harvest for All project. Understanding the role food banks play in responding to food emergencies, state officers decided to help direct FFA members wanting to respond after the hurricane to do so through agriculture. In addition to supporting the New York Farm Bureau’s Harvest for All efforts, however, officers added a component to their challenge – education.
The Food Insecurity Challenge asks schools to do three things: 1, educate themselves about the variables that contribute to food insecurity and specifically how food banks help to provide people with access to affordable food; 2, take the stigma off of services and programs that exist to help alleviate food insecurity by educating their schools about why it exists and the real demographics of hunger in New York; and 3, launch a campaign within their schools and communities to collect donations for regional food banks in New York State.
Over the course of a weekend, New York State Officers developed the project, created a script and a story board and recorded pieces of a video to launch the project. Officers worked in their bedrooms, hallways and dormitories from hundreds of miles apart to complete the project, together. After using partner organizations for feedback, they launched the project through social media and agricultural education networks on Tuesday, November 6.
“I’ve never been so proud of a project in my life,” said New York State Sentinel, Kaylin Broadwell. Broadwell is an FFA member from Hamilton, NY and currently studies agricultural communications at SUNY Cobleskill. She acted as the hub for all media and put the project together in her college dorm room, but doesn’t claim responsibility for the project. “It was a team effort. Like we say in the video, we’ve got to see that this is happening, recognize that it’s a problem and say it’s not okay. We hope that the video gets members thinking about the reality of food insecurity and gets them to do something to change the way people think about hunger.”
“We believe a lot of things about hunger,” District 6 President, Ashley Willits states in the video. “That it only happens to lazy people. That it only happens to people without jobs. That it only happens to people in big cities – and that there’s nothing we can do about it.” Willits is a junior at Lowville Academy in upstate NY and was eager to help develop the script for the video. “We want to take the stigma off hunger… until we make people realize that there is no shame in being hungry, we keep ignoring the people who need agriculture the most.”
The Food Insecurity Challenge is designed to engage all people in the reality of the issues of hunger all around them and to respond to the short-term needs of people following Hurricane Sandy – but it has the bigger goal of restructuring the way people think about hunger and to engage young people, long term, in finding solutions for hunger. “It has to be more than just a bake sale,” State Secretary Leann Green, a student at SUNY Cobleskill states. “It’s more than just a can drive. We want people to understand why food insecurity exists and to realize they can do something about it.”
Guest Post: New York FFA Food Insecurity Lesson / Challenge
In the last 2 weeks, state officers participated in the Rally to Fight Hunger and then watched the news to see people’s homes destroyed and their families left in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many of your students may be having the same conversations with each other as the state officer team has been having among themselves.
In response, the officers developed an initiative to engage local chapters with their schools in a dialog about food and food insecurity and a response to hunger in New York. They want students to focus in part on problems that threaten food security and how careers in agriculture can solve systemic and chronic problems – but they also know part of the challenge is that a general misunderstanding of the issue of hunger results in people not taking advantage of systems that are in place to serve people in times of need.
The challenge officers are making is simple and significant. They are asking all chapters to educate themselves about the reality of food insecurity and the role food banks play in feeding New York. Then, chapters are to educate their peers and the faculty at your school about the reality of hunger issues. Finally, once that education has taken place, they want schools to collect donations for local food banks in order to respond to the anticipated increased need for food in food banks throughout NY – particularly in the weeks and months following Hurricane Sandy. Any donations made between now and the deadline made in the name of the Harvest for All project will go to help credit NY Farmers in their competition to see which state Farm Bureau network contributes the most food to their food banks throughout the year – there is a lot of good that can come out of this project.
To launch the project, the team worked on a video laying out the problem and their challenge. I’ve included it as two different links – youtube and school tube. I’m also going to try to put it up on a file share site in case your school has blocked both of those sites.
In the next few days we’ll be trying to put together some resources for your students to use to help them get started in understanding food insecurity. This is a phenomenal stepping stool to engage students in the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute next year, or perhaps to spark some ideas for agriscience projects, ag issues presentations or prepared speeches. Additionally, creating a school wide dialog and understanding of hunger may help to attract some students into your agriculture classes when they recognize the challenge this generation of students must meet.
Good luck – and thank you for taking time to share this with your students. The video is 6 minutes and 20 seconds but I’d bet you could anticipate 10 to 15 minutes worth of discussion and planning to come out of it (if not more) if you propose this as a project your students take on.
Let me know how I can help – the videos are below.
NY FFA Executive Secretary
The New York FFA Foundation
The NYSFFALTF, Inc., chartered in 1946 by the New York State Board of Regents, is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that provides businesses, associations, other foundations, and individuals the opportunity to contribute to the growth and success of our New York youth. Our mission is to build and maintain a financial base that will allow the New York FFA to generate well-educated and career focused productive citizens. Email our Director at email@example.com .