The New York State Agricultural Society was organized in 1832 to “foster, promote and improve the New York State food and agricultural industry through education, leadership development and recognition programs.” With less than 2% of the United States population involved in agriculture, agricultural advocacy is important to help educate consumers about how their food is grown. In 2014, the society launched an ambassador program to help young people pursuing a career in agriculture to develop leadership skills and broaden their awareness of issues within the industry.
Miner Institute Research Technician Amber Bornt is an alumni of the Ambassador Scholars program at Cornell University and participated in a full-day program on Aug. 24 at the NY State Fair in Syracuse. The theme for the day was “agvocacy” and was supported by Bayer CropScience. “This opportunity allowed my peers and I to see just how diverse NY agriculture is,” said Amber. “It also showed us how the NYS Fair bridges the gap from farm to consumers allowing the public to get an insider perspective of how farms actually work. Where else can you see a cow give birth, and then enjoy a glass of NYS milk for just 25 cents?”
The day was set up with a number of different stations that Ambassadors visited, Amber said. They visited the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, which is one of the most well-attended exhibits at the fair; they visited the NY State Beef Council; the Future Farmers of America; and they watched an equine show. At each station, the ambassadors learned how that group was advocating for their sector of NY agriculture. The most consistent message from everyone, Amber said, was to keep your information consumer friendly. Essentially, make the message easy to understand for folks outside of agriculture and don’t use terms that are not commonly known outside of the industry.
Amber said that the experience was excellent and it energized her about advocating for agriculture.
Nine Ambassador Scholars attended the NYS Fair August 24, 2018 to polish their leadership and advocacy skills with the assistance of LEAD NY, NY Animal Agriculture Coalition, NY Beef Industry Council, NY FFA, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum, and equine organizations located at the NYS Fair Coliseum. The event was sponsored by the NYS Agricultural Society Foundation. From L to R: Christina Hall, Jacob Ernst, Amber Bornt, Emily Hiller, Sarah Peavey, Lucy Shephard, Sayvanna SFabian, Ashley Howlett, Megan Clancy.