Event’s 14th year welcomes students from across the region to campus for a day of learning activities hosted by College’s School of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
SUNY Cobleskill’s 2019 Agricultural High School Day saw the College host a handful of firsts. Visiting students competed in games of leaf blower skee-ball outside the Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources, cast fly fishing rods under the tutelage of the College’s Trout Unlimited chapter, and whipped up batches of homemade ice cream. Yet by the time the afternoon awards ceremony commenced, and Neal Robbins Fieldhouse filled with students from schools in Western New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and beyond, it became clear that Ag HS Day had once again come and gone as a massive success.
More than 1,000 students and faculty members from nearly 50 secondary schools attended this year’s event, participating in activities hosted by all five academic departments in the College’s School of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Eager visitors made the campus their own, as facilities including the Equine Center, USDA-certified meat laboratory, and newly-renovated Curtis Mott Hall (Agricultural Engineering) opened their doors. The annual day provides a chance for students to explore programs they may elect to pursue at the college level, as well as meet faculty members across areas of study.
While many schools attend Ag HS Day annually, this year marked the first on which the Carriage House Café and General Store was open for business. Agricultural Business and Culinary Arts faculty members guided students through regional product identification contests, a pie bake-off, and ice cream making competition. The Plant Science Department held plant and insect identification contests, while providing tours of the campus greenhouses and plant conservatory. Others enthusiastically (and in some cases not so enthusiastically) met the amphibious and reptilian residents of the Herpetology Lab. The ever-popular canine training exercises once again drew considerable attention, with many interested in learning about the Canine Training and Management Bachelor of Technology, which the College launched after Ag HS Day in 2018.
The range of learning activities makes for a valuable experience in the eyes of the teachers and counselors who accompany the high schoolers. “I think the ability to see the different avenues for [careers] is really important,” said a pair of teachers from a regional high school in Connecticut. “The career-awareness is a big part of this. The students enjoy the contests, but the career awareness that they take away is the [real] value.”
Congratulations to Blackhawks Bryan H and Troy M for their achievements in competition during today's SUNY Cobleskill High School Ag Day!
Three seniors in the welding program at Sullivan (NY) County Boces echoed that point. The group is already familiar with some of the potential career opportunities for which their area of specialization prepares them. However the chance to practice with new materials, in a new environment, and with expert guidance generated some important learning experiences.
“I am not too concerned with how I did in the actual competition,” said one of the students. “I got to work with two new rods, and then talk with some of the [faculty members] about my experience. I know what I need to practice.”
Cazenovia Equipment Company’s Erick Haas was one of several industry representatives on hand to meet with students. Cazenovia Equipment Company is a John Deere dealer in Oneonta, and a sponsor of SUNY Cobleskill’s John Deere Tech Program.
“What today does from our perspective is introduce the different opportunities we have outside of just turning wrenches,” says Haas. “The John Deere Tech Program is really at the foundation of what you’ll be doing in this type of career. Most of the groups I interact with don’t know that – that they directly develop their career through this program.”
An awards ceremony concluded the festivities, where winners were announced in everything from a putting contest to small engine troubleshooting, and dairy cattle judging to landscape design. The College looks forward to hosting another group of guests for Ag HS Day next year, which will mark the event’s 15th year.