The yet-to-be-signed state budget includes $200,000 to launch a North Country Agricultural Studies Academy at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Learning Farm, according to Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.
The cash will pay for staff training, equipment, supplies and other costs for the program, which will be housed in buildings once used by SUNY Canton’s agriculture programs, Ritchie said.
Ag Academy students will be able to take advantage of facilities that were used by SUNY Canton for its own agriculture programs for nearly a half century, beginning in the 1950s. The facilities include office, classroom and laboratory space, as well as a large barn, greenhouses and other outbuildings, located among tillable land and forest.
In addition, Cooperative Extension maintains a commercial sheep flock, beef and dairy cows, broiler chickens, layers and pigs.
“The regional agricultural academy is an innovative one-year program for high school seniors that will offer a comprehensive introduction to agribusiness careers,” said St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Thomas Burns. “Students will earn credits toward a Regents diploma while completing an agricultural curriculum and also earning college credits.”
“The program will help make high school seniors aware of agribusiness career opportunities for young farmers, agricultural management professionals and businesses that serve Northern New York’s farms of all sizes,” said St. Lawrence Cooperative Extension Executive Director Patrick Ames. “The Northern New York Agricultural Academy will serve as a model for agricultural regions across the United States to help introduce young people to our most important industry.”
“Agriculture is the most important industry in the North Country and throughout New York State, and today’s farmers—and those of the future—need innovative business and technology skills, in addition to good old fashioned farming know-how, to ensure their success,” Ritchie said.