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Agriculture students learn value of hard work
in Herkimer BOCES summer program

Aug. 3, 2016



Agriculture summer program students with a horse
Students in the agriculture, food and natural resources session of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program pose for a picture with a horse that teacher Tom Browka and his wife brought to Herkimer BOCES on July 25 for the students to interact with.



Students in the agriculture, food and natural resources session of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program worked on the grounds outside the BOCES facility, picked weeds and fed animals at the Utica Zoo, loaded hay and fed calves at a dairy farm and much more.

Tom Browka, who is teaching the session and also is instructor of the Herkimer BOCES outdoor power equipment career and technical education program, said there were many lessons the students were able to learn from the program.

“It teaches them that work isn’t always easy,” he said. “Sometimes, work requires a lot of effort and going above and beyond.”

The summer youth employment and training program at Herkimer BOCES runs for six weeks for 33 local students who are ages 14 and 15. The students attend for five hours per day, four days per week and are paid $9 per hour through a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant that funds the program. Students attend two-week sessions in three of the four available career clusters: agriculture, food and natural resources; hospitality and tourism; information technology; and transportation, distribution and logistics.

The following is a more detailed list of activities the agriculture, food and natural resources students participated in:
  • Cleared brush and weeds around the Herkimer BOCES campus.
     
  • Took a trip to the Utica Zoo, where they found vegetables in the garden, removed weeds, fed animals and cleaned animal pens.
     
  • Learned proper care of animals from guests from Herkimer Veterinary Associates and how to take a pulse from animals’ back legs.
     
  • Received free shirts from Clinton Tractor and learned to represent the company in their actions.
     
  • Visited Browka’s dairy farm, where they walked trails as a team, cleaned manure from the horse pasture, loaded hay, put milking machines on cows and fed calves.
     
  • Heard from Jean O’Toole, director of marketing and communication for the New York Beef Council, about cuts and grades of meat, products made from cattle by-products such as crayons, soaps, insulation and pharmaceuticals and about the various jobs available in the industry.
O’Toole told the students that jobs range from being farmers to being a nutritionist and to being lobbyists for farming.

“I hope they gain an overall better understanding of the industry and how they can be part of it in so many different ways,” she said. “There are so many different aspects to be involved in.”

O’Toole shared with students that she wasn’t qualified for her job with the Beef Council when she was trying to get it, but she kept after it and was hired because of her tenacity and passion.

“These are the qualities that will hopefully get you where you want to go,” she said.

O’Toole said she thinks the summer program at Herkimer BOCES is great because it gives students the opportunity to see various career opportunities and gives them something positive to do during the summer.

“I think it’s important to make that connection and teach them the value of work ethic,” she said.

During O’Toole’s visit, Browka also discussed the importance of hard work and shared his reason for teaching the summer program.

“I’m here because I believe in success stories,” he said, to the students. “I believe that you’re going to be a success story.”

Browka told the students he was proud of them for joining the program, that they’ve showed an awesome work ethic and have had good manners.

“I would hire any one of you in a heartbeat,” he said.

Browka worked with Jennifer Collins, 4-H Youth Development educator from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Herkimer County, to arrange a visit to the Utica Zoo for the students.

Nicolette Hajdasz, education assistant at the Utica Zoo, led students around the zoo as they did weeding, fed sulcata tortoises and cleaned the pens of the tortoises and pigs.

“It will be a fun thing for them to do,” Hajdasz said, of feeding the tortoises.

The weeding around the zoo’s many paths is a big help, Hajdasz said.

“We have a lot of volunteers throughout the summer that help us do that because the zoo is huge and we have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Hajdasz said she hopes the students learned more about how animals eat and about the many responsibilities of zookeepers.

“Hopefully, they’ll see the large amount of work that it takes to keep a zoo up and running,” she said.
Summer program student Ashley Amendolare, 15, of Central Valley Academy, said she wants to be a zookeeper.

“I love animals,” she said. “I’m really good with small animals, small children and food.”

Ashley said she was familiar with many aspects of what it takes to be a zookeeper, but learned more than she had thought about as far as maintaining the zoo.

“I’ve never really thought about how much of a whole process it all is,” she said. “They have to do a lot of work to maintain the animals’ little areas.”

In addition to the agriculture, food and natural resources session, Ashley is also participating in the transportation, distribution and logistics and hospitality and tourism sessions. She said she really enjoyed the hospitality and tourism session, during which she made cake, cookies, cupcakes, chicken riggies, bread and more, and she is joining the Herkimer BOCES culinary and hospitality program.

Ashley said experiencing the various career options during the summer program is beneficial for the students.

“I think it’s helpful that everybody can learn a little bit of everything, so they can be independent,” she said.

Additional stories spotlighting each of the four career cluster programs will be coming soon including online at www.herkimer-boces.org, www.facebook.com/HerkimerBOCES and www.twitter.com/HerkimerBOCES.



Summer program agriculture students hear about cuts of beef
Jean O’Toole, director of marketing and communication for the New York Beef Council, talks to students in the agriculture, food and natural resources session of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program on July 25 outside Herkimer BOCES about different cuts of beef.


Jean O'Toole of the New York Beef Council speaks to students
Jean O’Toole, director of marketing and communication for the New York Beef Council, talks to students in the agriculture, food and natural resources session of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program on July 25 outside Herkimer BOCES about different cuts of beef.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Students in the agriculture, food and natural resources session of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program and teacher Tom Browka pose for a picture at the Utica Zoo while wearing shirts donated to the program by Clinton Tractor. Students picked weeds, fed animals and cleaned pens at the zoo.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program student Dustin Benoit, of Dolgeville Central School District, feeds a sulcata tortoise on July 26 at the Utica Zoo as part of his agriculture, food and natural resources session of the summer program.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program students Thea Watson (left), of Little Falls City School District, and Dominick Bemis (right), of Central Valley Central School District, feed sulcata tortoises on July 26 at the Utica Zoo as part of their agriculture, food and natural resources session of the summer program.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program students Alexis Priola (left), of Central Valley Central School District, and Jaylanni Arzu (right), of Central Valley Central School District, feed sulcata tortoises on July 26 at the Utica Zoo as part of their agriculture, food and natural resources session of the summer program.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program student Dominick Bemis, of Central Valley Central School District, hands off weeds he picked on July 26 at the Utica Zoo as part of his agriculture, food and natural resources session of the summer program.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program students in the agriculture, food and natural resources session remove weeds on July 26 from around the Utica Zoo.


Summer program agriculture students helping out at the Utica Zoo
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES summer youth employment and training program students Madison Muller (left), of Poland Central School District, and Devon Maine (right), of Central Valley Central School District, clean out a pig’s pen on July 26 at the Utica Zoo as part of their agriculture, food and natural resources session of the summer program.





 
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