Stissing Mountain senior joins county’s Ag Advisory Board
From left, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro named Stissing Mountain High School senior Cailin Halladay and John Jay High School junior Jenna Franco as the first two youth leadership members of the Dutchess County Agricultural Advisory Committee alongside Chair of the Dutchess County Legislature Gregg Pulver (R-19), a multi-generation Pine Plains farm owner. Photo submitted

Stissing Mountain senior joins county’s Ag Advisory Board

PINE PLAINS — In celebrating the county’s rich agricultural identity, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announced the appointment of the Dutchess County Agricultural Advisory Committee’s  (AAC) first two youth leadership members at its annual Agriculture Breakfast this spring.

The Agricultural Advisory Committee is responsible for reporting to and advising the county executive on issues and policies regarding agriculture and agri-business in the county, and for facilitating “implementation of the programs outlined in the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan,” according to

“We’ve discussed the possibility of adding youth to this board for almost a year now,” said Chair of the Dutchess County Legislature Gregg Pulver (R-19), himself a Pine Plains multi-generation farm owner and farmer who serves as a member of the AAC.

In seeing all of the FFA students who attended the committee’s annual meeting at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck in April, Pulver said the committee recognized it didn’t have any actual youth members to represent themselves on it.

With help from the entire committee, Pulver credited Mark Condon, a professor at Dutchess Community College and a member of the AAC, as the catalyst for installing the two student members.

Pulver said Condon came up with the criteria for seeking the new youth leadership members. He explained the committee wanted students involved in agriculture in some fashion, so they looked to the county’s FFA and 4-H students as potential candidates. It also looked for leadership skills and a commitment to attending AAC meetings. In the end, the committee decided to pick a junior and senior to give the it continuity going forward.

“All of the candidates were great,” Pulver said, adding, “The two that we picked we think will do a great job representing the youth of agriculture.”

The 2022 Agriculture Breakfast was held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck on Friday, April 22. It was with great excitement that Molinaro announced Stissing Mountain High School senior Cailin Halladay and John Jay High School junior Jenna Franco had been appointed to the Agricultural Advisory Committee and its Education Subcommittee.

According to Molinaro’s office, the Education Subcommittee’s role reports to and advises the county executive on issues and policies regarding agriculture and agri-business, and provides “organization and leadership in carrying out the vision of the agricultural plan.”

Cailin will serve a one-year term on the committee while Jenna will serve a two-year term.

“I think we have two great students that will represent Dutchess County’s interest in agriculture,” Pulver said.

As advisor to the Pine Plains FFA, ag teacher Stephanie Rhoades said the appointment to the AAC will be an exciting opportunity for Cailin.

“There is great value in having young adults get involved with local government,” Rhoades said. “This opportunity will allow Cailin to use her leadership skills gained through her FFA involvement and will help her learn more about agriculture in Dutchess County. FFA members like Cailin are the future leaders of agriculture and our community so it is very important to invest in youth and provide them with these opportunities.”

Rhoades also extended a shout out to Rebecca Cossa from the Dutchess County Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) FFA for encouraging Cailin to apply to the AAC.

“I’m really excited all about the appointment,” Cailin said. “I’m just really excited to advocate for the youth of Dutchess County because I think it’s very important that their voice is heard.”

An active member of the Pine Plains FFA for the last seven years, Cailin currently serves as an officer and a reporter with her school’s FFA chapter this year.

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