Since 2012, Churchville-Chili High School students have been elected by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) to design posts and banners for its annual Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference. And so far, both the teens involved and the NOFA-NY have been reaping the benefits of the arrangement.
The Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference is an annual event that brings together more than 200 farmers and agricultural professionals from across New York State, including both younger organic farmers and veteran farmers.
And the conference doesn’t just provide opportunities for those in the agricultural business — it gives young graphic designers a chance to showcase their work.
“We have a great working relationship,” said Bethany Wallis, education team director, in an interview with the Democrat and Chronicle about her organization’s partnership with the high school’s media arts department. “The fact we’ve done this for four years speaks to the quality of their program. We wouldn’t continue if it wasn’t.”
Originally, science teacher Linda Judd and art teacher Jane Betrus started the partnership. Now, it is orchestrated by Betrus and art teacher Jonathan Woodard.
“We essentially are acting as a professional design firm,” said Woodard. “Using advanced graphic design, our students get a taste of real-life experience.”
Each year, 100 students enrolled in the school’s media arts classes participate in the conference.
The opportunity provides the students with the option of receiving dual credit through Monroe Community College. Additionally, NOFA-NY gives the young graphic designers a job ticket, directing them to design banners that showcase the conference’s sponsors or educational workshops.
Other tickets instruct students to create banners with themes, such as cow comfort or organic dairy management, a growing movement.
The partnership also allows NOFA-NY to educate students about the agricultural movement, giving teens a chance to learn about agriculture from a new perspective. While teenagers consume the very products agriculturists produce — such as ice cream — the conference helps teens to make connections between the farmers and the food they eat. For example, 9% of all of the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers becomes ice cream.
“A lot of time young people think of agriculture simply as farming and they don’t think of the greater agribusiness at work,” said Wallis. “There are so many jobs within the industry that support farms.”