Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Lisa Koumjian 518-457-0752

October 31, 2016

State Agriculture Commissioner Congratulates New York Future Farmers of America Leader Ashley Willits on Being Elected to Serve as a National Officer

Willits is the 13th Member from New York to Hold a National Office and is the First Female Member to be Elected

Extends Congratulations to FFA Supporters Recognized During the 89th National Convention

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We have so much to be proud of here in New York State—from our exceptional growers and producers who rank in the Top 10 in dozens of commodities and feed our school children, our communities and the world, to the great work our State’s farmers do in protecting our land, water and other valuable natural resources.  All of these contributions have led to a strong agricultural industry that drives the New York State economy, but perhaps the most valuable asset we have here in New York State is our inspiring future generation of farmers and agricultural leaders.

I would like to, on behalf of New York State and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, extend my sincerest congratulations to Ashley Willits on this exciting accomplishment.  As a past New York State Future Farmers of America President, Ashley has supported New York’s efforts in agricultural education.  With this new honor, as the Eastern Region Vice President, Ashley will now bring her hard work, dedication and passion for agriculture to a national stage as one of only five FFA National Officers who will conduct important outreach, training and policy making for tomorrow’s FFA leaders.

Ashley has a tremendous job ahead of her this year but I have no doubt she will continue to be an excellent role model for both current and new FFA members and an avid spokesperson for New York agriculture. 

I also commend Tara Berescik and Jeff Kirby, who each received an Honorary American Degree at the convention.  This is the highest honor that the National FFA can present to a member or supporter. It is given to individuals who provide exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA, and both Tara and Jeff are extremely deserving of this honor.

In her sixteen years as an agricultural educator at Tri-Valley Central School and as an FFA Advisor, Tara has played a crucial role in supporting the next generation of farmers in New York.  Through her knowledge and experience, Tara offers her students a unique educational opportunity that helps prepare them for success not only in agriculture, but also in life. 

As Executive Director of the New York Farm Bureau and former State FFA Officer, Jeff has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to New York agriculture.  Throughout his career, Jeff has worked tirelessly to find solutions to the challenges facing our farmers and to strengthen the industry.  In doing so, he has helped paved the way for countless new farmers of tomorrow.

In addition, I’d also like to extend my congratulations to the nineteen American Degree recipients from across the state.  The work of the New York State Future Farmers of America organization is critical to the success of the industry and I am tremendously proud of all those who represented our great state at the National Convention.”

2016 Press Releases