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 their December meeting.
And, the support isn’t just financial, he pointed out.
“It has been a good year. We have had some very good success and some very little successes,” he said. “The world is changing very rapidly for us. And, like everyone else, we’re always being asked to do more with less. We are trying to readjust as best we can.”
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.”
They’ve increased 22 farmers and $8.2 million in economic impact in Oswego County, according to the most recent data, he told the legislators.
“Other people will tell you that there are a lot of other factors. But I will stand up here in front of you and tell you that Cooperative Extension had the lionshare of how that happened,” he said.
Every person that moves into Oswego County that wants to start a farm, contacts
Cooperative Extension, he pointed out.
“It’s not our job to do things for people. It’s our job to teach people to do things for themselves,” he explained. “That’s what Cooperative Extension is about.”
There was a big change in their nutrition education program; everything is going to ‘region,’ he said. By regional, he said, he means “big regional” – 10 counties.
“I don’t think regional approaches are all that they’re cracked up to be,” he said. “You can save money and you can save resources. But, the reality is every time they move into a regional approach you have to give something up. I believe an Oswego County agency should take care of Oswego County. If you’re a resident of Oswego County, you deserve to know that an Oswego County agency will be there.”
Some of the counties involved lost funds and got nothing in return, he said.
“Here in Oswego County, we fought very hard to keep a position. We had a loss of 3.5 position, but we did in fact gain one back. I have to credit the commissioner of Social Services; he really stood by me on this one. I appreciate all he did for us,” Forestiere said.
He also told the legislators about a “huge success.”
“We have done more 4-H school programs in the 2013-14 year, then we have ever done in the history of Cooperative Extension of Oswego County,” he said. “We now provide school programs in all nine school districts and we provide full programs to three private schools. The total number of youth involved is a substantial increase. This year, we took care of almost 12,000 kids – 11,800 kids – that’s a big jump for us.”
He thanked the legislators for being there for the agency.
“We are ‘Team Oswego.’ We are trying to make sure that people in Oswego County are taken care of. On behalf of all of us, thank you very much for your support. Nothing that we do is possible without you,” he said. “We can’t do it alone, we have to have you. It’s not just the fact that you give us money that we appreciate. It’s the fact that wen we run programs, we see you there, we see you at our events. We know that you are there with us. That means a lot to us. It means a lot to our constituents when they turn around and see a legislator (at an event). 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.