The Mount Markham FFA chapter was rechartered in 2017. They are located in the southwest corner of Herkimer County within the village of West Winfield. The students are in grades 7-12 and take a wide variety of elective and core classes in the CTE department.
The middle school CTE program offers both agriculture education classes as well as technology and production classes.
In 7th and 8th Grade Agriculture, students learn about many areas of agriculture, as well as how to plan for our futures. Students learn about horticulture, food science, finances, how to write a resume, and care for multiple small animals. They are also introduced to FFA.
7th and 8th Grade Technology teaches students how to work with various tools and they do many fun building activities. 7th graders build a toolbox, a piggy bank, and race mousetrap cars. In 8th grade, they learn how to do technical drawings, build boot jacks, and race CO2 cars. Both classes begin with emphasizing the basics and importance of measuring skills and technical drawings.
8th grade students have the opportunity to take DDP/Introduction to Building Trades or Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Successful completion of these classes result in students receiving one high school credit. Students in DDP/Introduction to Building Trades build ornaments with elementary students, catapults and Adirondack chairs. They also learn about machines and use a variety of hand tools and power tools when completing projects. Students in Introduction to AFNR use CASE curriculum to learn about agriculture in America, plant science, animal science and food science.
Students are also encouraged to start Work-Based Learning experiences where they are mentored by Mrs. Lindsey and Mr. Rathbone. Examples of student experiences include carpentry, furniture construction, dairy production, apple orchard management, small animal care, and horticulture production. In high school, Agriculture classes include Agriculture Power and Technology, Agricultural Drawing Design and Production, Basic Home Maintenance and Repair, Independent Studies, Natural Resources Management, Forest Resources Management, Animal Science, Veterinary Science, and Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
A valued part of the program is implementing and fostering positive community relationships. Past community organizations and businesses that we have worked with include the CNY Farm Progress Show, NY Maple producers, MOMMS organization, Sweet Acres Orchard, Roedale Farm, Farm Arm Sugarbush, Casler Flower Farm, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and Cedarville Carpenter Company.
Students are able to participate in wonderful opportunities presented by the NYS FFA Association that offer learning opportunities for them to expand their network, leadership skills and communication abilities. In events like leadership development, students are able to expand their knowledge and public speaking skills. In events like career development, students are able to explore areas of interest. In these competitions, they are able to gain valuable skills related to the field of agriculture, which they find the most enjoyment.
Fundraising allows FFA to participate in numerous events. A good portion of funds comes through grant writing and the fruit and maple sale. However, a niche that has been carved out for the chapter is the sale and production of hardneck garlic. This crop of hardneck garlic is a unique crop for the school calendar. FFA is able to plant and tend to the crop throughout the school year but the harvest happens during summer break. In the fall, the garlic is sold directly to retailers as final product and as seed. Locally in past years, they have worked with Sweet Acres Orchard and Casler’s Flower Farm to sell excess garlic that does not go to their main retailer. This main retailer is the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture located in Tarrytown, NY. This farm to table property hosts the Blue Hill restaurant which has garlic derived from the rich soils of Herkimer County, NY. Jim Wrobel, a niche farmer and faculty member at Mt. Markham School, fostered this special connection.
About the Author
Owen Allen is the Mt. Markham FFA Chapter President 2022-2024.