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Cornell Cooperative turns 100 this year

The much beloved and frequently utilized Cornell Cooperative Extension is celebrating its 100th anniversary statewide this year, and all of Cornell extensions in New York state are joining the celebration. The Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County (CCEDC) will actually celebrate its centennial birthday in 2013, but it’s still among the many taking a moment to praise the statewide agency for all of the services and resources it has provided to New Yorkers for the past century. A bevy of environmental stakeholders, including 4-H volunteers, environmentalists, agronomists, nutrition experts, as well as county legislators and consumer educators, are planning to pay homage to the forces that united the knowledge, resources and research of Cornell University with those living and working in New York. The tribute is well deserved and based on the many years the CCE has served as a vital resource to not only to the state but right here in the Harlem Valley — providing information, personnel and essential materials to make our region all the richer in so many ways. There will be an all-out celebration on Thursday, July 21, at Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in Poughkeepsie at 5 p.m.; the public is invited to attend the festivities.And the Cornell Cooperative, as it is most often referred to, has much to celebrate. According to the agency, it was first brainstormed in 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln “created the concept of the land-grant university with the help of Ezra Cornell, Cornell University’s founder.” Fourteen years later, Cornell professors started their extension work with regional farmers to address agricultural problems. Then, in 1911, the first Cornell Cooperative Extension office opened in Broome County, N.Y., and by 1918 there were satellite extensions throughout the state.According to the cooperative, “while the extension’s early decades emphasized agriculture, as the country changed the extension’s educational mission grew to address environmental concerns, agricultural sustainability, nutrition and consumer education. Each year the educational programs of CCEDC touch the lives of over 10,000 Dutchess County residents with the assistance of over a 1,000 volunteers.”That’s no small potatoes. Many of those thousands who make use of the cooperative live right here in the Harlem Valley. Its central Millbrook location makes attending classes and seminars that much easier for local residents who might otherwise have a difficult time finding similar resources.But those programs aren’t free, nor do they come cheap. Most of the CCE’s work is primarily supported by county, state and federal dollars, and as such it’s susceptible to budget cuts, just like in other public institutions. Therefore, with today’s economic times, the cooperative is now turning toward private donors for support. It is also pursuing more grant opportunities and fundraising. The CCEDC will have a booth at the Dutchess County Fair this summer, at which its 4-H clubs will exhibit their livestock. The cooperative is also planning to hold a walk on the Walkway Over The Hudson on Oct. 7, to help raise funds for its programs. For more information about the walk, call 845-677-8223, ext. 137, or email nm62@cornell.edu.

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