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CCE goes to Albany


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CCE Meeting participants included from left, Jeanne Darling (CCE Delaware, Executive Director); Jared Buono (CCE Ulster, Executive Director); Senator Jen Metzger; Lucy Joyce (CCE Orange, Executive Director); Ruth Moore (CCE Dutchess, Executive Director. Contributed photo.

CCE Meeting participants included from left, Jeanne Darling (CCE Delaware, Executive Director); Jared Buono (CCE Ulster, Executive Director); Senator Jen Metzger; Lucy Joyce (CCE Orange, Executive Director); Ruth Moore (CCE Dutchess, Executive Director. Contributed photo.

Roxbury’s Jeanne Darling was in Albany last month when the halls of the New York State Capitol Building in Albany were lined with red. She went to visit newly elected senator Jen Metzger on Jan. 22 with nearly 50 executive directors from Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) county associations from across the state who met with senators and Assembly members from their respective districts.

The visits corresponded with interactive displays in the lobby of the Capitol, highlighting extension programs and initiatives such as Harvest New York, Taste NY, NYS 4-H and the Cornell Maple Program.

In addition to sharing examples of its impact in each lawmaker’s district, CCE representatives spent the day advocating for an increase in the state funding it receives through NYS County Law 224. The law currently provides about $4 million in funding to CCE associations – an amount that has not changed since 1994.

CCE lawmakers to double contribution.

“The ability of our educators and community partners to respond to emerging issues such as the opioid crisis and invasive species is hampered by an existing funding structure that is heavily dependent on grants and contracts,” said CCE Director Chris Watkins. “An increase in [Law] 224 funding would allow us to respond more quickly and with greater agility. The fact that 224 funding has not increased in 25 years puts our system at a great disadvantage.”

Watkins said this year’s visits were especially impactful because of the large number of new senators and Assembly members who took office after the 2018 election. “We found those new folks were especially excited about the work that extension does and how it impacts their districts,” he said.

The Albany visits also represented an opportunity to reconnect, strengthen existing relationships and discuss priorities for 2019. CCE Delaware County Exceutive Director Jeanne Darling said,

“Senator Metzger seems very supportive. We spent some time speaking with her team also. They were interested in our Sources of Strength youth suicide prevention program.”

CCE Broome County Executive Director Victoria Giarratano spent part of the afternoon on the Assembly floor as a guest of Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-123rd Dist.

“I have spent quite a bit of time collaborating with Assemblywoman Lupardo and am in constant appreciation of her investment in agriculture across the Southern Tier,” said Giarratano. “There’s no doubt her partnerships with CCE have led to a stronger ag economy in our county. And now that she’s the chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I’m confident that her intense commitment to strengthening agriculture and its related economies will serve all of New York state.”

The relationship between CCE and its communities is not lost on Lupardo.

“Cornell Cooperative Extension is one of the more important organizations in our community,” she said. “I can’t say enough about what they have done for decades working with our farmers… and all of our community partners.

“They’re able to bring firstclass research and the expertise to really help our communities, not just farmers,” Lupardo added. “They help everyone grow in a very healthy way, and we would be lost without them.”

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