2022 NYAAC Advocacy Scholarship Recipients Announced!

Jun 28, 2022 | Announcements

2022 NYAAC Advocacy Scholarship Recipients: Autumn and Gabriella!?

We are proud of these two advocates for animal agriculture. They have already done so much in their lives to make a difference in our industry.

Meet Autumn.

Autumn is a graduating senior from Bainbridge Guilford High School. She will be attending SUNY Cobleskill in the Fall, majoring in Animal Science and minoring in dairy production. She loves agriculture and her plan is to someday take over her family's dairy farm.?

When asked how she advocates for animal agriculture, here was her response; “I have become a confident public speaker, teaching the public about the importance of agriculture. When I learned that my high school was beginning an agriculture program, I reached out to my superintendent and asked to be part of forming the program. Advocating for agriculture is something that I learned through raising and showing animals in 4-H. I am proud to say that I am a founding member and president of a new FFA Charter at my high school beginning this year. This year, I am trying something new with my dairy cows. I am raising one calf of each breed of dairy cow: Holstein, red Holstein, Guernsey, Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, and Milking Shorthorn. Each was born on our farm or purchased as a young calf so that I can learn about the breeds and help them grow into healthy cows. I plan to train and show them at county fairs, to help teach the public about dairy farming and the differences between the breeds. Working with animals and in the field of agriculture has helped shape me into the confident, passionate leader that I am today. I plan to attend college, majoring in Animal Science. My hope is to learn innovative techniques to bring back to my family farm, and to share with other farmers to increase the sustainability of agriculture in our country. Without farms, there is no future.”

When asked what she believes the biggest challenges facing animal agriculture are today, she replied, “Agriculture is defined as the art and science of cultivating soil, growing crops and raising livestock. It is so much more to me. It is the way I live my life every day. Agriculture is caring for the land so that future farmers can cultivate it. Agriculture is watching a cow give birth to a calf that is then nurtured and raised with care. I have learned several lessons through my involvement in agriculture. Agriculture is under attack right now in social media and in political legislation pushed forward by an uninformed public. In order for farmers to survive, things need to change for the better. We need to use and show the use of sustainable practices with our crops and soil usage. Using no-till machinery is something that farms are doing more and more, as a way to maintain soil health. Crop rotation is important to keep natural nutrients and minerals in the soil used. We need to use and show the use of sustainable practices when dealing with agricultural waste products. There are programs that have been started and are in place in many counties for used plastics, but they can be expanded and improved upon to include additional plastics. Educational programs are available for some of these topics but putting them out to farmers in a more user-friendly way might improve their use. Dealing with manure is an industry in itself. Continuing research is absolutely necessary in this area. Without change, and without improving sustainability, rural farmers will no longer exist. I take every opportunity presented to teach people about agriculture. Whether it's my classmates in an introduction to agriculture class or my seatmate on an airplane, I share my life with them. I show them photos of my calves and talk about how I care for them. I talk about raising calves and growing crops. I share about the importance of dairy products and locally grown meat. I love talking about agriculture and I think people can sense my passion for the topic in the way I speak. I hope to join agricultural committees, as well as community groups such as planning boards. Adding my voice advocating for agriculture in my community is important. Agriculture is such an important part of my life and I plan to advocate for the success of rural farmers, and all farmers, as I begin my career.”

Meet Gabriella.

Gabby is a graduating senior from Newark High School. She will be attending St. Bonaventure University in the Fall, majoring in Communications and minoring in Biology. She has always enjoyed advocating for agriculture and it is her goal to continue to do so as part of her future career. 

When asked how she advocated for animal agriculture, here was her response; “Over the past nine years, I have had the privilege to be a part of the Wayne County Dairy Promotion program. This program sparked my love for communications and consumer-facing involvement in the agriculture industry. I started when I was ten years old as an ambassador when the program was formerly called the Wayne County Dairy Princess program. I learned the basics of interacting with consumers and through my dairy knowledge from dairy bowl I was able to create a social media account in 2019 that focused on these ideals. DairyDilemmaTruths is an Instagram and Facebook page that advocates for the dairy industry by displaying farmers' stewardship of the land, care for their animals, and the nutritional values of milk. Through DairyDilemmaTruths I was able to experiment with social media and got an incredibly positive reaction, it is a great outlet for me to promote and advocate for the industry at my own pace. Along with my work taking care of calves at El-Vi, I have also been asked to work with NYAAC on a farm newsletter to engage with consumers quarterly about what’s going on at the farm. In addition to this, I was named the New York State Dairy Ambassador this February and have spent the past two months traveling all over the state to attend events, media training, virtual farm tours, and much more. This opportunity has given me even more insight into promotion of the industry as the spokesperson and being behind the scenes. I have enjoyed it so much and I cannot wait to see the next opportunities that come along with it.”

When asked what she believes the biggest challenges facing animal agriculture are today, she replied, “Overall, I believe the biggest challenge facing animal agriculture today is representation. Over the past couple of years, agriculture’s social media presence has grown tremendously, as has the interactive audience of consumers on social media. This is great, it means more people are gaining more exposure to agriculture through their life on the internet, but it also means that sometimes our audience is limited. Even though social media is becoming more common there are still audiences being missed when using that as our main source of engagement. I believe that a more effective method to reach consumers, especially young consumers, is through education in schools. This way we are reaching an incredible number of students each day in all facets of agriculture. Although some schools have this program already, they are usually in rural communities where the general public is typically familiar with agriculture in some form. Another area I believe that agriculture needs more representation is policy. Without people who can speak on behalf of farmers in the legislature, the more restrictions will unknowingly be put on us. The best recent example of this is Proposition 2 being added to the New York State Constitution this past year. The Proposition reads, "Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment." The proposal sounds harmless, but it could be detrimental to farmers. We have so many practices to reduce our impact on the environment that consumers do not fully understand. New York Farm Bureau put out a statement saying that, "The vague green amendment would muddy the waters around good environmental policy and has potential implications for farmers who may face new legal challenges from anyone who disagrees with their farm practices" (Channel 13 News). This is important for our state Legislators to know when voting on bills within the Assembly and Senate. They need to know that they can and should reach out to farmers when they think a proposal might affect our industry's future. Even something so small as giving everyone in New York State the right to clean air and water can affect farm operations in many different aspects. One of my favorite quotes is said by Zippy Duvall the American Farm Bureau Federation President, “If you are not at the table, you are the meal”. Meaning if farmers do not fight for their representation, they will not have any. With this, I have thought about pursuing both Agricultural Education and political science during my collegiate career because I believe both of these areas will be key to agriculture's success in the future.”