What began as an organization to aid farmers is now a household name and this year, the Cornell Cooperative Extension celebrates its 100th birthday. But as our Tamara Lindstrom reports, these days, the non-profit assists with much more than just agriculture.
TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- At the annual Fall Festival for Kids in Ithaca Monday, the cutting of a birthday cake marked the celebration of an organization that's been involved in the community for 100 years.
"It was primarily focused on agriculture, primarily focused on the farmer and then it grew into working with the farmer by himself wasn't going to be sufficient in terms of growing the local economy," said Ken Schlather, Tompkins County CCE Executive Director.
And now, a century later, the Cornell Cooperative Extension has grown to include a vast array of services.
Schlather said, "Today we are 250 staff. We have 2,500 volunteers, who, by themselves, contribute 60,000 hours of volunteer time. And we went from one single program around improving production in agriculture to today about 200 different programs that are out there."
"They are really there because they care about making a difference in the community. And that's really exciting and it means the resources there are tremendous," said CCE educator Avi Miner.
With programs ranging from nutrition to natural resources to consumer education and more, educators say it's the close ties between researchers and the community that keep the organization relevant.
Schlather said, "Everybody has wisdom, experience, knowledge that they've gained through just day to day living. And when you combine that with research based knowledge, the potential for that to actually address problems that people care about goes way up."
Miner said, "They've remained relevant just by reaching out in so many different ways and being flexible enough to respond to the different needs of the community and to have the connections sufficient to know what the community is looking for."
An interactive approach members hope keep the organization strengthening communities for another hundred years.
To learn more about the programs offered in your area by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, visit www.cce.cornell.edu.