The 2012 Summer Conference, in conjunction with the PAAE Summer Conference, was held July 9-12, 2012. This year’s theme was “Ag Ed is Sweet”. And what better place to hold the convention than the sweetest place in Pennsylvania − Hershey. The conference was headquartered at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg / Hershey in Grantville, PA. Many members of PYFA attended the conference and spent time interacting with Ag educators from all over the state.
PYFA’s inclusion in the conference began Tuesday evening with a night out at Hershey Park. They enjoyed the evening meal there and attendees were able to take in all the park had to offer, including the rides.
PYFA conducted their business meeting at the hotel Wednesday morning before boarding busses for one of the 4 choices of tours. Tours included: Hershey Food’s Research and Development Center & Giant Center/Arena; Zoo America, Hershey Gardens & Milton Hershey School; Penn National Raceway, PA Veterinary Laboratory & Wildwood Park Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association; and Huntsinger Farms Potato Fields, Masser’s Potato Packing Plant & Millersburg Ferry. All the tours provided a look into all that the Hershey area has to offer. After the tours, the buses were loaded up to head to Purcell Friendship Hall for the Awards Banquet. It was a great evening, recognizing the accomplishments of the educators who are influencing the next generation of Ag leaders.
The National Young Farmers Educational Association Institute took place December 4-6, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. Pennsylvania Young Farmers again had a good attendance at the Institute. Delaware Valley College student Gabrielle Murphy was a winner of the Ag Communication Award and will represent PA at Agriculture’s Promise in March in Washington DC.
Those traveling to Texas early got to tour the King Ranch, which occupies over 825,000 acres in the semi-arid region of south Texas. Production includes milo, cotton, cattle, oil rights, and hunting leases. The Santa Gertrudis cattle breed, a cross between Brahman and Shorthorn, was developed at the King Ranch. They are known for their ability to withstand a hot dry climate. The Ranch is a privately held corporation whose board includes 7th generation descendents of Captain Richard King.
Thursday tours visited San Jose Mission, founded in 1720, and the Alamo and Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. An excellent tour of the Northeast Agriscience Magnet Program in San Antonio was enjoyed by all. What an amazing opportunity for high school students!
Friday we boarded buses for the hill country, the home of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the U.S. We toured his boyhood home in Johnson City and his ranch, the “Texas White House.” We visited one of the more than 100 wineries in the area. Founder and president of Wildseed Farms, John R. Thomas, gave us a very informative talk about growing wildflowers for seed. The farm has more than 1000 cultivated acres of wildflowers in Texas and ships flower seed and seed mixes all over the country. It was interesting to hear how he developed his own machinery to harvest the tiny seeds. We also enjoyed the large gift shop!
We topped off the evening with a steak dinner prepared by Texas Young Farmers at the dance hall in Luckenbach, Texas.