CCE building

The Cornell Cooperative Extension building in Auburn.

Many members of the community have come to members of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County Board of Directors with questions about recent transitions and changes within the organization. This is an update on the status and activities of CCE Cayuga.

We are still in our building at 248 Grant Ave. and expect to continue to be there well into the future. Our normal office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Community members are welcome to come to the building during those hours.

In November our executive director, Doug Ververs, retired after leading CCE Cayuga successfully for many years. A search committee has been formed and is actively working to develop criteria for a new executive director and set up a recruiting plan. In the meantime, longtime Cayuga County nonprofit leader Katie Moran has taken on the leadership role as our interim executive director.

Part of the planning process for a new executive director is a needs assessment and strategic planning process. The strategic planning/needs assessment process will involve conversations with stakeholders in the community as well as program advisory committees. These conversations will help to determine the future priorities of CCE Cayuga and will help to guide the new executive director. Citizens with thoughts or comments that would help the strategic planning process can e-mail them to cayuga@cornell.edu.

There have been some staff changes, but we still have a great team on board. While we are recruiting for permanent 4-H educators, we have three 4-H educators on staff who are working hard to make sure that 4-H activities continue and are well run. We continue to provide nutrition education through Eat Smart New York and other funding sources at a number of schools and community locations, for both youth and adults. We have both a nutrition educator and an agricultural program educator on staff.

Some of our recent and upcoming activities and programs include:

• Nutrition programming in Port Byron to home schooling moms and two groups of home schooled youth.

• A regular mom’s group at the Auburn Rescue Mission Homeless Families Unit, as well as a program for youth there.

• Nutrition education in three Auburn elementary schools.

• Collaboration with the Cayuga Community Health Network on a grant that is focused on improving eating behaviors of children and their parents.

• Collaboration with the NY Agriculture Land Trust, County Planning Department and CCE Seneca to plan for a July program on land conservation and other topics.

• A series of four workshops for farmers and others in the agriculture industry in Moravia, Cato and Aurora that cover a variety of topics.

• A successful Produced in New York event and a Parade of Breeds for the 4-H horse clubs in January.

• Public presentations were done in February, as was a Dairy Cattle Knowledge event.

• Ongoing preparations for teams that will participate in the regional Dairy Bowl.

• A county Horse Bowl and Hippology event was also held in February, as were make-up Produced in NY and Public Presentations.

• 4-H youth attended a Regional Horse Extravaganza and Regional Dairy Bowl the first weekend in March.

• A 4-H Youth Tractor Certification Safety Course that runs for six weeks starting March 4.

• Ag Literacy Week is March 18 to 22. Volunteers will be reading this year’s book, “On The Farm, At The Market” in county elementary schools. Currently readings are scheduled in Port Byron, Cato, Weedsport, Union Springs, Owasco and Genesee elementary schools.

• CCE Cayuga will participate in the DEC Pheasant Release Program. Pheasant chicks will be available in mid-May to participants who sign up in advance and will be distributed at the Tractor Supply Store.

• Planning has begun with the Cayuga County Planning Department for recycling events in 2019.

• Planning meetings are being held for the Big 6/4H/County Fair to take place July 25-27.

• 4-H dog classes will start in April.

• Master Gardeners will open their phone lines on April 1. They will be available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to take calls from the public. In addition, soil and pest samples can be dropped off any day at CCE during office hours.

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Emily Robertson is president of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County Board of Directors.