By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — LYNDONVILLE — Agribusiness leaders gathered this weekend to celebrate all that’s good about local farming, including the crop of future leaders at local schools.
The annual Orleans County Farmer to Neighbor Dinner, held Saturday at The White Birch, brought together more than 200 members of a diverse community that works together throughout the year. With the growing season about to begin, the event and others held in surrounding counties are one last chance to get together before the haw work begins.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the importance of agriculture to Western New York,” Barry Flansburg of Barre, the event’s emcee, said. It was a fun evening too. “It’s a casual get together ... everybody has a good time.”
The dinner and silent auction raised funds for local FFA programs. Members of the Medina and Albion FFA Chapters took an active role in the proceedings.
“I come as the future of agriculture,” Medina FFA member Chantelle Kidney said in a prepared speech that spoke in favor of keeping youth involved in the agricultural economy. “As an American I have a right to farm. As an American I have the right to work. As an American I have the right to do what I love.”
Kidney noted that many of the youth who are ineligible to work at farms are more than capable enough to, a message that resonated with the crowd. Albion Junior FFA member Alexis Maines backed up the ability for youth to step up, impressively reciting the FFA creed from centerstage.
“I did it last year and had it memorized,” Maines said after returning to a table for fellow blue-jacket wearers. “But it was nerve-wracking.”
Albion FFA Advisor Adam Krenning said the event lets students interact with the titans of the local agriculutral community. Those leaders, including many FFA Alumni, came away impressed by what they saw.
“It’s great to see the youth involved,” said Controller Tim Winters of Western New York Energy, one of the event’s sponsors. “The future for agriculture looks good.”
The night also featured thanks to the adults who promote agriculture in Orleans County. Batavia Daily News columnist Virginia Kropf received the annual Farmer to Neighbor award from Orleans County Farm Bureau President Gary Kludt.
Well, the honor. The award is coming — Flansburg joked that the number of articles she writes will decide how big is it when the award arrives.
Thanks were also given to Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator Margo Bowerman, who is leaving the region for a job overseeing 4-H operations in a wide swath of Minnesota counties.
“The Orleans County community and the New York State 4-H community have benefited from (Bowerman’s) hard work, dedication and enthusiasm,” Cooperative Extension educator Kerri McKenna said in a heart-felt tribute.
What made the night special was that those type of moments could be shared between groups who have a common bond. The event brings together the farm bureau, cooperative extension, FFA and alumni and Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District among others in a shared experience.
“More and more this is one of those things that shows the cooperation we have here,” Flansburg said. “Everyone does their part.”