Since 1999, the Junior DAIRY LEADER program has graduated a total of 468 youth. The September-to-August program builds personal, communication, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership skills; networks the students with industry professionals; and provides exposure to dairy internship opportunities.Under the guidance of program leader and Cornell PRO-DAIRY youth development specialist Deborah Grusenmeyer, each year's class participates in eight hands-on workshops; attends the National 4-H Dairy Conference and World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin; and tours farms and agribusinesses.
Participating students are mostly from New York State, but, over the years, have also come from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont, where no similar program exists. Past graduates credit the program for influencing their decision to pursue dairy-related careers. The 2019 Junior DAIRY LEADER class members are:
- Allegany County: Bryce Warriner, Andover
- Cayuga County: Rebecca Colgan and Tad Patterson, Auburn
- Chautauqua County: Katelyn Miller, Cherry Creek; Emily Starceski, Sherman
- Chemung County: Tori Reese, Horseheads; Alyssa Roorda, Cayuta
- Columbia County: Katelyn Barnes, Niverville
- Herkimer County: Austin Ainslie, Little Falls
- Lewis County: Jordan Bergen, Lowville; Alexis Payne, Glenfield
- Livingston County: Josephine Sywers, Dansville
- Madison County: Erin Curtis Szalach, Cazenovia
- Monroe County: Faith Avedisian, Hilton
- Montgomery County: Jennifer Keehan, Fultonville
- Onondaga County: Zoie Skinner and Cassandra Wilbur, Fabius
- Ontario County: Annaleigh DeBoover, Phelps; Morgan Smithling, Stanley
- Otsego County: Garrett Proskine, Gilbertsville
- Saratoga County: Adam King, Schuylerville; Blake Wadsworth, Ballston Lake; Libby Swatling, Clifton Park
- Steuben County: Jade Atherton, Greenwood
- St. Lawrence County: Camryn Chester, Lisbon; Sarah Kearney, Potsdam
- Tioga County: Chelsie Fuller, Newark Valley
- Washington County: Erin Armitage, Greenwich
- Wyoming County: Rachael Sylvester, Fillmore; Tucker True, Perry
- New Jersey: Teresa Buzzoni, Hillsborough, NJ.
Empire Farm Days is the annual agricultural and rural living showcase held each August at Rodman Lott and Son Farms in Seneca Falls, NY. Show hours are 9am-5pm on Tuesday, August 6, and Wednesday, August 7, and 9am-4pm on Thursday, August 8. Admission is free; parking is $10 per vehicle. Find more information at www.empirefarmdays.com or call 877-697-7837.