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County donates $4K to Ag Ed Program

Posted Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 —


Ontario County has donated $4,000 to the Geneva City School District’s Agricultural Education Program. The program, new this year at Geneva Middle School, boasts approximately 40 students.


Agricultural education was originally suggested by two members of Cornell AgriTech: Betsy Bihn, executive director of the Institute for Food Safety, and Courtney Weber, associate professor of horticulture. The pair now play a key advisory role, along with representatives from area higher education institutions, wineries and others who serve on the newly created Agriculture Education Community Group.


With the help of the community group advisors, the program, taught by Karen Patricio, is midway through an introductory year at the middle school and plans to expand to the high school next year.


“On the behalf of the Ontario County Agricultural Enhancement Committee it is my pleasure to present the Geneva City School District (GCSD) with this check in the amount of $4,000 to support the district’s initiative in providing an agricultural education curriculum,” said Bob McCarthy, a member of the county’s Agricultural Education Committee. “The committee fully supports the career development opportunities in agriculture provided by area schools.”


The community support of the program is one of its standout features, according to Geneva City School District Director of Innovative Programming and Multilanguage Learners Tracy Marchionda. “Not only is it heartwarming to see that, but it indicates the need for developing people who have these skills and interests,” she said. Initially, the program will focus on plant and animal science; later curriculum is still in the development phase. The district hopes to teach youth not only about what agriculture is, but what it can be, said Mrs. Marchionda. “It’s not just tractors and cows—it’s a bigger world than that, and we want to make sure that students know that.”


“As today’s agricultural practices demand more technical training and science background it is of paramount importance that our schools graduate students prepared to contribute to this exciting and challenging industry,” said Mr. McCarthy. “Our thanks go out to the GCSD for having the vision to offer its students courses in agricultural education to better prepare them for a career in this field and also to further the understanding of the general public as to how our food is produced and where it comes from.”


Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York State (NYS) Senator Pamela Helming and NYS Assemblyman Brian Kolb were instrumental in securing initial funding for the program.