Longwood High School senior Jessica Anson, who lives in Yaphank, has been awarded the $1,500 New York Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship for her achievements and future endeavors in the agricultural industry.
To nab the top prize, Anson had to pass muster locally before competing against nine other finalists from districts across the state. Sandra Prokop, managing director of the NYFB Foundation for Agricultural Education said this year's competition was fierce and "the decision was not easy."
Anson's family owns and operates a retail nursery business specializing in annuals, perennials and hanging baskets, and she has been active on the farm throughout her childhood. By 10, she was ringing orders and answering customer questions about plants.
Anson remembers playing "I spy" with her mom and brother in the car when she was younger: "I spy marigolds," "I spy black-eyed Susans."
"By the time I hit kindergarten," she wrote in her application essay, "my mom made sure I knew my ABC's, my multiplication tables, and my annuals and perennials from A to Z."
She has served as the Longwood Historical Society's club secretary for the past three years and plays on her school's varsity volleyball team as first-string right side and defense specialist. Her other activities include the Brookhaven Youth Court, where she has served as a juror, judge or attorney handling real-life cases involving peers, and the School Leadership Team, where she was chosen as a student body representative.
Anson has applied to Cornell University's Agricultural Science program for fall 2011. "After my first visit to Cornell, my head was spinning with all the possible avenues that I could travel," she recounted in her essay. "I never imagined that such an old tradition could be such an exciting new world and I want to bring new technologies back to farming."
After college, Jessica plans to work for a state or local farm agency to advocate for and help maintain Long Island's family farms.