Growing up in the suburbs of Maryland, this city-raised child was always just a big country boy at heart.
Michael Foor-Pessin, a resident of the South Otselic area for the past 30 years, says his love for farming stemmed from the summers he spent in the Midwest at his grandparents’ farm. You couldn’t get into trouble in the middle of nowhere, he explains, whereas in the suburbs, he says he may have easily found himself with the wrong crowd.
After graduating from Woodlong High School, Foor-Pessin headed towards earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, where he met his wife Terry. Still carrying the idea of wanting a small farm, the couple moved to upstate New York.
After moving to the area, Foor-Pessin explains he and his wife were both involved in the social services scene in Syracuse. Caring for at-risk teenage girls, the couple acted as house parents in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. “I loved working with the children,” he says, “but I just wanted to figure out how I could intervene earlier on with them.” Foor-Pessin then continued his education at SUNY Cortland, where he earned his master’s degree in English and education.
By 1980, Foor-Pessin was working in the English department at Otselic Valley High School. Just seven years later, he took on a distance-learning program that today encompasses many school districts throughout Chenango County. “The program is the oldest of its kind in New York state and the second oldest in the county,” said Foor-Pessin.
Foor-Pessin started teaching at the Morrisville College Norwich extension in the early 1990s and has continued teaching there through the years. In time, Foor-Pessin and his wife bought the small farm they had wanted and raised two children, a daughter and a son.
Today, Foor-Pessin spends his time divided between raising Dexter cattle and growing over 300 different varieties of Hosta plants from all over the world. Foor-Pessin served on the Otselic Town Board for 16 years, a service he explains he misses a great deal. Years ago, Foor-Pessin said he started a drama club in the community originally called the Otselic Valley Players. He has been the Superintendent of Cattle at the Chenango County Fair and has been involved in 4-H for years. “It was a really great experience for my kids,” he said. “We raised anything from chicken, to goat to sheep,” he explains.