OSWEGO, NY – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County is an extension of the county legislature, its executive director said.
Thanks to the support it receives from the county, the agency is able to help make life better for area residents, Paul A. Forestiere II told the legislators at Thursday’s meeting.
And, the support isn’t just financial, he pointed out.
Forestiere thanked the legislators for their support over the years, and he updated them on some of the successes of the agency during the past year.
“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County works for the residents of Oswego County,” he said. “I want to make sure that it is clear in everyone’s mind that Cornell Cooperative Extension works for Oswego County. We are an Oswego County entity, an Oswego County agency; we are supported by Oswego County funds.”
The past year “has been incredible” for the agency, he noted.
Cooperative Extension’s second Harvest Dinner was a sold out event, he said.
“We have heard back from the farmers, the people in agriculture that are telling us that we are making a difference. Why? Because we are trying to educate the general public. We want them to know and understand all the things you can do with Oswego County agriculture products,” he said. “You don’t have to buy things in a store that come from Washington State. You can buy things that are grown locally. When you do that, you help everyone.”
A few months ago, the federal government came in and reduced funding in one of the agency’s programs that provides nutrition education for the residents of Oswego County.
“It was kind of brutal in the way they did it. In addition to removing the funding, they took our budget back to 2009. They retro-actively readjusted everything,” he told the legislators.
What that meant was a lot of meetings and quick decisions to find a way to deal with the situation, he said, adding that he was happy to say that the program survived those changes.
It’s a little smaller; other counties decided to not keep the program, Oswego County Cooperative Extension did not make that decision.
“We have finally gotten back to where we were several years ago in our 4H program. This year’s numbers are a little over 11,000; with one full-time and three part-time people (providing services). Let’s put that number in better perspective. There are about 122,000 people in Oswego County. Roughly about 40,000 of them are of 4H age, if they want to be involved in 4H at that age, they can do it. That is 25 percent,” he said. “That is phenomenal. A little staff like that, in a little place over in Mexico, for us to able to accomplish that is absolutely amazing.”
He thanked the legislators for being there for the agency.
“Nothing that we do is possible without you,” he said. “We can’t do it alone, we have to have you. We like the fact that we are getting money from the Oswego County Legislature, but what’s more important is that we see you at our events. We know that you are there with us. I’ve had conversations with you. It’s great to see you at those events, the more you come to the events, the more you understand who we are and how hard we are working for the people within the boundaries of Oswego County. That’s what we want to do, that’s our mission.”
Cooperative Extension’s mission is to “interpret, disseminate, and deliver research-based information and knowledge on issues relevant to Oswego County youth, individuals, families, farms, small business, and communities.” It also contributes to improving the quality of life through education and empowering volunteers and staff to lead, guide, and teach, Forestiere said.
Since 1913, business, farmers, and families have been receiving the best information available on the issues that matter most to them, he added.