Several students from Midlakes, Canandaigua, Bloomfield and Red Jacket also earn scholarships for their farming works

GENEVA — They celebrated agriculture, then recognized outstanding agriculture leaders at the Ontario County Agriculture Appreciation Banquet.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, Ontario County Farm Bureau and Ontario County Agriculture Enhancement Board are collaborators for the annual event, which was held in March at Club 86 in Geneva.

The Rodney Lightfoote Agricultural Viability, Leadership, and Innovation Award was presented to Richard “Rich” Jerome, a seventh-generation farmer. His father changed the farm from dairy to grapes when Rich was in high school. Now it consists of a U-pick operation of raspberries and peas in the spring and grapes and pumpkins in the fall. An active advocate for agriculture for over 30 years, he has been active in many leadership roles with the local, state, and national Farm Bureau. The honors will keep coming. At the January 2018 New York Agriculture Society’s annual meeting, the Jerome Farm will be honored for being in the Jerome family for 200 years.

The Jackie Kunes Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award was presented to Karen Rugenstein, who is a businesswoman, active in the farm management of her family farm, and a wife, mother and grandma. She started her career with USDA FSA as a commodity program technician and is a farm loan specialist. She also owns and operates a 25-head Simmental cow/calf herd with her family in Canandaigua. She was a 4-H member, then leader with her children and has continued her work as a 4-H leader and 4-H beef superintendent at the Ontario County Fair.

The 2017 Paul and Peg Zimmerman Outstanding Young Farmer Award was presented to Hannah (Young) Worden, who grew up on a dairy farm in Clifton Springs. She helped with calves and chores at a young age and then became active in many facets of school, 4-H and Junior Holstein Association and was an Ontario County Dairy Princess. She was a semi-finalist in the Holstein Association’s National Distinguished Junior Contest. Her cattle have received national awards for classification and production. A Cornell University graduate, she serves on the Ontario County Farm Bureau Board and is a member of the Ontario County Dairy Promotion Committee. She and husband Matthew are partners at Will-O-Crest Farm where he is herd manager.

The 2017 Ralph Jerome Scholarship was presented to Midlakes High School student Jaime Frederick.

The Ontario County Farm Bureau Agricultural Citizenship Scholarships were awarded to Sara Kelly of Canandaigua Academy, Sara Fessner of Bloomfield Central School, Hammond Raes of Midlakes High School and Katharine Wesche of Red Jacket High School.