Cornell Cooperative Extension, 100 years on
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County celebrated a century of service to the North Country last week, at our annual meeting and dinner held, this year, at the Malone Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant.
One hundred years is a very long time. Yet, surprisingly (to me at least), many within our community still do not know who we are. Nor do they recognize all that we do to assist, and improve the lives of, literally thousands of individuals and families in our region annually. That lack of recognition exists even among many whose lives have been touched and / or made better by their participation in programs and use of the services we provide.
Cooperative Extension has long been associated with agriculture, agricultural research and the distribution of research-based agricultural information. And indeed, we remain that today. But our focus is expanded. Our vision encompasses learning and education that is community based. And we’re working diligently to improve our county’s economic, environmental and social conditions; concentrating, as Extension always has, on quality of life and on the critical issues that affect daily living.
Every county resident is eligible for any of the services that Extension offers. There are no qualifying factors. All are welcome to call, email or walk into our offices any day of the working week to set up an appointment, ask for educational materials or bulletins, be placed on one of our mailing lists, or request our services, which are often provided without charge.
We are an informal agency reaching out to people where they live, work and learn. We offer educational information and programming based on research from Cornell University and other educational institutions, all of it intended not just to increase agricultural profitability but to enhance consumer horticulture and gardening; develop the character and competence of youth; strengthen individual, family and community resources; and improve nutrition and health.
While a good number of the people I speak with are familiar with, or have at least heard of 4-H, more than a few don’t realize that 4-H is the youth education and development branch of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Our 4-H programs, for youth 6 to 18 years old, provide recreational and learning opportunities in dairy farming, horsemanship arts and crafts, community service, citizenship, and leadership. 4-H youth learn and gain through experience. They work with other kids and adults, make new friends, share common interests and discover new places within their county, across the North Country and the state, throughout this great country of ours, and around the world.
Dedicated 4-H volunteers and Cooperative Extension staff are doing all they can to increase these young participants’ skills and abilities, to challenge the status quo, to inspire vision, to enable others to act, to model the way, and to encourage the hearts and minds of others. We see the potential in our youth and we make them, not their activities, our priority. Our concerns and interest are genuine. We want our future generations to realize their potential. We try hard to give them a sense of purpose, to empower them, and to motivate them to give back to their communities and their families in return for the good things that they received from caring adults when they were young.
Programs like Eat Smart, a nutrition education program, build stronger families, develop capable, responsible, and caring young people, promote healthy, supportive communities, increase financial well being and support informed housing choices. The Eat Smart program focuses on the health, nutrition and safety of both communities and individuals by encouraging increased fruit and vegetable consumption, promoting safe preparation and storage of food, reducing insecurities about food and the food supply, expanding knowledge of behaviors that affect women’s and children’s health, and increasing citizen participation in local health and safety policy decisions.
CCE has a rich history of outreach in home and community horticulture. The educational information and services that we offer are designed to bring ecologically sound, science-based practices for home gardening projects to homeowners, market gardeners and seasonal residents. We recognize that the process of planting and reaping in our own small corner of the world has the potential to meet certain human needs including a feeling of connectedness with the land and the seasons, moments of solitude, and cooperation with family and neighbors.
We provide workshops and classes for community groups and the general public. We work one-to-one and with small groups, providing consultation in the office or by telephone. We support community efforts through training sessions in our schools and with other community based organizations.
We recruit and train volunteers who become an active and integral part of Extension programming. These volunteers are our 4-H leaders, Master Gardeners, Master Forest Owners, our Board of Directors, and our advisory committees. And CCE distributes newsletters, pamphlets, booklets, fact sheets, and Cornell University and other land grant university and government agency publications. We reach out to residents with regularly published newspaper articles as well.
We are working to develop and implement effective and collaborative land use management approaches and policies that improve the quality and sustainability of our environment and our natural resources. We encourage farming, forestry, and industrial practices that promote and maintain a clean and healthy environment for all of our residents, while assuring a safe, sustainable, and abundant local food and wood products supply, attractive landscapes, and more prosperous local economies. And we are striving to meet and respond to the demands of contemporary issues such as diversity, technology, and new ways of working and learning.
My colleagues and I invite you to discover Cornell Cooperative Extension and all we have to offer. We encourage you to contact our office, or the CCE office in your county, to find out about upcoming programs, workshops, classes, and activities and to let Cornell Cooperative Extension put our experience and research knowledge to work for you.