Cooperative Extension welcomes Liz Callahan

Liz Callahan, a resident of Cooperstown, will bring more than 25 years of experience leading nonprofits to the region when she takes up her post as Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties (CCE SW) on April 12.

“Cornell Cooperative Extension is about community resilience,” Ms. Callahan said in a conversation with The Freeman’s Journal / Oneonta Hometown. “All staff are deeply committed to helping families, farms and individuals find answers that work for them. The healthier our small units are – our families, for example – the healthier the communities will be.

CCE SO, affiliated with Cornell University under the National University Land-Grant System, is a nonprofit community education agency. The CCE helps preserve the region’s agricultural heritage, protect ecological infrastructure, support families, and provide youth with opportunities for community service and research-based education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). ). Ms. Callahan grew up in Western New York, where she participated in 4-H, volunteered VISTA and moved to Cooperstown in 1991 to pursue her Masters in History Museum Studies from Cooperstown’s graduate program. .

“Cooperative Extension is so much more important than its visible role in 4-H,” she said. “The resources we have are not solidly defined with sharp corners. We focus on determining community needs; it’s something that will be different in the rural and less rural parts of our counties.

“Using the talents of the professional staff we have and the resources of the extension system, I know we can provide practical and constructive answers,” she said.

CCE SO’s mission spans a spectrum serving the needs of long-established family farms to start-up agricultural businesses, from professional gardeners to home hobbyists, families needing access to healthy food options to producers who can provide them.

“We are all aware of the high cost of food, especially fresh options,” Ms Callahan said. “There are people in our area who feel like they can’t afford healthy choices. We can show them how to find and buy nutritious food, even on a tight budget. »

“Cooperative Extension serves the entire food continuum,” she said. “Healthy farms, healthy production, healthy consumption.”

Those with green and not-so-green thumbs know to turn to CCE SO with their questions, and Callahan is excited about these opportunities as spring approaches.

“We just had a successful seed swap day,” she said. “We get questions about everything from how to start a garden to more advanced questions about growing and growing. Our Master Gardener program is so robust that it develops people’s skills based on their level of expertise.

If connecting farmers, gardeners and consumers to food security is a priority, CCE SO also deals with energy efficiency strategies and the protection of the region’s natural resources.

“Cooperative Extension can show people how to keep their homes more energy efficient,” she said. “It’s also a big problem for farms, as they are constantly looking for better ways to minimize costs and maximize efficiency.”

Ms Callahan joins Cooperative Extension after approximately 20 years as Executive Director of the Hanford Mills Museum in East Merideth, where she developed the resources to expand the interpretation and preservation of the rural industrial complex and historic site. She was also the director of the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi and program coordinator for the Regional Council of Historical Agencies.

“It’s bittersweet to leave Hanford Mills,” she said. “I loved my two plus decades there. I find so many things in terms of community values ​​and commitment at Cooperative Extension that resemble what we do at Hanford Mills that I saw this as a next obvious step.

“This area is truly blessed with so many community organizations,” she said. “I look forward to many partnership building collaborations to make the process of finding and connecting resources much more seamless.”

“I’m not reinventing the wheel here,” Ms Callahan said. “I want to build on what is already great with Cornell Cooperative Extension. I hope people will feel they can call us when they have questions or see a need that we can fill.

Liz Callahan lives in Cooperstown with her husband, Bill Francis (Senior Researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum) and their son Daniel Francis (Gallery Manager, Cooperstown Art Association). Their daughter, Matilda Francis, will graduate from St. John’s University in Queens in May 2022.

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