RICHMONDVILLE — Cobleskill-Richmondville High School senior Grace Dunham has been named a 2021 New York Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship award recipient. Dunham, the C-RHS 2020-2021 salutatorian, was selected District 9 winner based on essay submissions, and community and agricultural engagement.
Dunham, of Richmondville, will receive a cash award and a gift from the New York Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Program.
As NYS Future Farmers of America District 2 president, Dunham represented an area that covers the southeastern part of New York State from Sullivan to Schoharie Counties. She also served as FFA chapter secretary.
Dunham said her initial reaction to the award’s announcement was “excitement and surprise,” as “there had been many worthy candidates.”
Dunham explained that the process of “discovering my passion for agriculture through FFA competitions and classes like Environmental Science,” shaped her as a person and student. She credits Ag Teacher Deborah Fletcher with “greatly impacting,” her educational path.
Fletcher, Dunham said, introduced her to the Future Farmers of America and “pushed me to leave my comfort zone to pursue NYS FFA district president office.”
Fletcher said Dunham has been a joy as a student, referring to her as “one of my shining stars and a wonderful person.”
Added Fletcher, “Grace will help anyone and has a positive attitude that is completely contagious.”
Dunham — an FFA member through all four years of high school and a “leader for most of those years,” according to Fletcher — was instrumental in championing a positive and inspiring attitude even though pandemic-related hardships.
“When things seemed impossible with virtual learning and virtual club meetings, she kept encouraging everyone and made it work,” said Fletcher, referring to Dunham as, “the core and heart of the chapter.”
In addition to FFA and academic activities, Dunham shows jersey cows, cultivates vegetable gardens, and is a member of 4-H. She was president of the National Honor Society, and participated in Odyssey of the Mind for nine years, once as part of a winning team.
Dunham played Varsity Soccer and Track and Field, and also enjoys working on the family farm.
One of Dunham’s favorite ag-related activities has been caring for Nigerian Dwarf Goats. She said, “I love bringing baby goats to school for Ag Fair to teach elementary kids about agriculture.” She also enjoys regularly checking on bee hives behind her high school.
Dunham was chosen for the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Award for CRCS. She was also recipient of the National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program for the College Board. She has participated in the 4-H Agri-business Career Conference and the 4-H State Teen Action Representative Retreat, and was awarded the Chobani Agriculture Grant, FFA Star Chapter Degree, and the SAE Farm Credit East Scholarship.
She said that though time management while participating in as many activities as possible has proved challenging, one of the greatest joys of Dunham’s high school career “has been the little interactions with my classmates every day.”
Dunham is the daughter of Jason and Deanna Dunham. She plans to attend Cornell University in the fall, majoring in Global and Public Health with a potential minor in Food Science or Agricultural Science.
Fletcher, who wrote a heartfelt letter of recommendation for Dunham, concluded of her star pupil, “She’s been one of my favorite students of all time.”
“She’s a unique mix of positive attitude, intelligence, caring and compassion, determination and integrity. She’s one of those people who will — and already does — make the world a better place.”