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Penn Yan honors ag group members

    PENN YAN—Penn Yan’s chapter of the National FFA Organization honored the work of members during the 2011-12 school year with the annual community banquet on Thursday, Apr. 19.  The event was held at Penn Yan Academy.  
    Through FFA, grade school students are able to develop leadership skills, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.  PYA Teacher John Kriese, who serves as advisor to the Penn Yan chapter, pointed out a great aspect of the program is members are not limited to only learning about farming.  He added the opportunity is there to develop an interest in any subject within agriculture whether it is lawn mowing or viticulture.  Participants also have the chance to take part in agriculture-related workshops and competitions at both the state and national levels.  
    According to Kriese, the ages of Penn Yan FFA participants range from seventh through twelfth grades in the Penn Yan Central School District.  The following members were part of the chapter’s officer team for 2011-12: Chris Conley (president), Brittany Griffin (vice president), Allison Hamm (secretary), Maren Andersen (treasurer), Katie Kriese (reporter), Corey Slocum (sentinel), and John Kriese (advisor).  Carlie Brown, who worked as a student teacher in PYCSD during 2011-12, served as a student teacher advisor to the program during the year.  
    The guest speaker for the event was Mike Collizzi, a former member of the Penn Yan FFA chapter.  He graduated from PYA in 2005 and currently works at the Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension as a viticulture community educator.  Collizzi discussed some of the positive impacts which FFA had on him.  He explained to members of the audience how the experience helped him improve skills such as public speaking, job interviews, and developing talents and interests.  Collizzi also noted the friendships that get formed are invaluable.  “It’s so nice to have those bonds with people,” he stated.  Another person who spoke was J.W. Allen, the N.Y. State FFA advisor.  Allen stressed the importance of making people aware of the positive impacts agriculture has on a community.  “Go home in your community and coffee shops,” he said.  “Make sure a positive message about agriculture is out there.”
    During the program, several awards were presented.  Slocum received the Sean Murdock Memorial Award.  The Growth Award went to Andersen.  Brown, who presented the award, lauded Andersen for her leadership skills and serving as a role model to other FFA members.  “This individual has grown significantly, in FFA and in life,” she said about Andersen.  “This member has a willingness to take responsibility, takes initiative when something needs to get done, serves as a role model to other members, and helps people make good decisions.”  
    Outstanding Awards were given to a select member from each grade in PYA.  The award for ninth grade went to Katie Kriese.  For tenth grade, the recipient was Slocum.  Griffin took home the award for eleventh grade.  The honor for twelfth grade was presented to Sean Murphy.  
    Discovery Degrees, for active members in sixth through eighth grade, were given to Scott Fingar, Emily Fingar, and Sabrina Parsons.  Greenhand Degrees, for those actively involved for a year, went to Katie Kriese, Chris Gilbert, Ben Morehouse, Jon Morgan, and Cassidy World.  For two years of involvement, FFA Chapter Degrees were handed out to Hamm, Slocum, Danielle Fulkrod, Brooke Parsons, and Nick Anderson.  Six members were recognized for taking part in career development events: Conley, Griffin, Andersen, Sabrina Parsons, Scott Fingar, and Emily Fingar.  
    Two Friend of the FFA awards were presented during the event.  Individuals who receive the honor are not members, but still provide some sort of support to the chapter.  The first award was given to Dave Schiek.  He received the honor for his assistance with the group’s annual fruit and cheese sale which is held to raise money for the banquet.  “He (Scheiek) provides his time and energy to ensure that we produce a high quality product to sell each and every year,” said Hamm, who introduced Sheik as the award recipient.  Stacey and John Grabski got the other Friend of the FFA honor for their efforts in spearheading a fundraising benefit auction to help purchase team jackets for all chapter members.  
    Special recognitions were given to Jordan Owen and Cody Whitney.  School district maintenance worker Rob Bennett received an appreciation award.  A special parent appreciation honor went to Karen Fingar.  The officer team for 2011-12 presented Brown with a student teacher appreciation award for her help in assisting members throughout the course of the school year.


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