by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Brown’s Brewing, Revolution Hall, Troy, NY, provided the perfect setting for New York Farm Bureau’s 2019 Feast-East fund raising event, where folks came together to socialize and support the Foundation as the educational arm of NYFB.

Keynote speaker Richard Zwirn has been a school counselor for 24 years at Greenwich Central School.

Zwirn grew up in New York City, where farming was “the furthest thing from his mind, but is now the bedrock of his school and community.”

“We have an ag department that is probably second to none,” commented Zwirn, “and an FFA that is probably also second to none in the state and sometimes even regionally and nationally.”

Zwirn said he counsels youth for career and college. “We specialize in agriculture. We’re talking to youth about hundreds, if not thousands of industries and arenas out there from architecture to zoology.”

Zwirn said agriculture is the place to be. “The opportunities are immense.”

He remarked that the people involved in ag are real and passionate about what they do, with huge amount of diversification in employment including some of the most educated and intellectual people, as with research scientists, veterinarians and engineers.

“It’s just vast, and I can find someone in any grade and any classroom that would be perfect for one of many, many, many avenues or paths in the industry,” he emphasized.

Zwirm left attendees with a bit of advice.

“Teach a young person to work,” he advised. “Invite a class to your farm or to your office. Just spread the word, because it’s a magical field with so many opportunities — and I think it’s under-appreciated. The more visibility you can provide, the better the chances are of students having purposeful work.”

Sandra Prokop, Managing Director of the NYFB Foundation for Agricultural Education at New York Farm Bureau, says it is good to see that the NYFB group is growing.

“We need to tell our story. It’s not just ‘New York Farm Bureau’, it’s the farmers that make up New York Farm Bureau.”

The annual Feast is a major fundraiser for the Foundation.

“Support of the Foundation through fundraisers such as the Feast is essential to every New York State community as it directly benefits our successful agricultural education programs,” remarked Prokop. “We are working to cultivate a generation of New Yorkers who are knowledgeable about agriculture, which will help to keep New York State’s agriculture strong. The Feast East at Brown’s Brewing was a wonderful evening full of fine food, great New York State wines, and wonderful people who understand the importance of our work. A time to ‘connect’ and enjoy the bounty of agriculture.”

For more information on New York Farm Bureau Foundation resources, data or programs, contact Prokop at