Mar. 14, 2008
'Think statewide, act locally' is Cooperative Extension's focus for 2008
Promoting New York's grape industry; using ladybugs to teach underprivileged children about ecology; helping seniors through the Medicare maze. These are just three of the new Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) activities that Director Helene Dillard highlighted March 13.
In her State of Extension Address, presented in the Biotech Building and streamed live over the Internet, Dillard noted that funding for CCE programs will be increasingly distributed through a competitive grant process and that CCE will increasingly need to frame its programs in public-value terms, be accountable and focus on programs that are most fundable. She also stressed CCE's role in fostering collaboration between the university and the community.
"We are at our best when we are working together," said Dillard, who also is a Cornell professor of plant pathology and associate dean of the Colleges of Human Ecology and of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Dillard said that CCE programs apply research from Cornell to rural communities and farming families as well as to urban and suburban areas to educate the public about agriculture and food systems; children, youth and families; community and economic vitality; environment and natural resources; and nutrition and health.
"Extension work is at its best when the discipline of science combines with the power of relationships," she said. "We are celebrating a year of accomplishments."
Dillard detailed the Ladybug Project, for example, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and teams up 4-H and the Department of Entomology with local groups as well as with Native American youth in South Dakota. The project uses the lives and behavior of ladybugs as a concrete illustration of certain ecological concepts for hard-to-reach and underprivileged youth.
Choose Health, a proactive initiative throughout New York state, seeks to battle the rise of childhood obesity by emphasizing how healthy living can be promoted by changing certain factors in a child's environment, Dillard said.
Specifically aimed at rural communities, the Rural Learning Network, coordinated by Cornell's Community and Rural Development Institute, focuses on community and economic development in central and western New York communities.
"As we look forward to the celebration of our 100th year in 2011, we continue to find important work that needs to be done to improve the lives of New Yorkers," Dillard concluded. "The CCE system, with its capacity to think statewide and act locally, is a tremendous asset to the people of New York, to members of government at all levels and to Cornell University as it strives to carry out its land-grant mission. We will continue to position the organization for the future that we see on the horizon, and better lives for our families, our communities and our state."
Jennifer Wholey '10 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.