Cornell Cooperative Extension Of Oswego County Welcomes New Agricultural Team Coordinator

Submitted Article

MEXICO, NY – Jonathan “J.J.” Schell grew up around farming.

His dad worked on a dairy farm outside Watertown when JJ was a toddler and remained in the farming and agricultural field for many years.

Jonathan “J.J.” SchellHe gained his own farming experience through high school by working on two local farms, one which focused on vegetables and ostrich, the second which focused on dairy cows.

But, he remained interested in returning to dairy farming because of his family’s history in the industry.

“After six months of battling these enormous birds, I decided I missed milking cows and went to work for a beautiful one hundred-cow dairy farm,” he said. “There I was introduced to the challenges of long-term manure storage and bottom silo unloaders.”

Thus began Schell’s career assisting farmers solve everyday problems to make their businesses successful.

He has recently joined Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County as its new agricultural team coordinator.

Schell has an extensive history applying his farming experience to helping others through CCE.

His journey to his new position may have started early on with his involvement in Cornell Cooperative Extension as 4-H volunteer.

“I thought my passion for agriculture and the sense of accomplishment I had when I volunteered my time with 4-H would assist me in the agricultural teaching field,” he said.

After receiving his Masters of Arts degree in Agricultural Education from Cornell University in 2001, he decided his experience and background would be a good match with CCE’s goals and has worked in the agriculture departments at several CCE locations including Washington and Schoharie counties.

“In Schoharie County I worked as an agricultural generalist and program leader,” he said. “When the team coordinator position became available here in Oswego County, I could not pass up the exceptional opportunity to move closer to where I grew up and to work with the agricultural producers here.”

He has been on the job for a little over a month but has come in full force working with potential livestock and vegetable farmers to educate them about the advantages of setting up their businesses in Oswego County.

“The ‘Come Farm With Us’ program is in place to recruit potential farmers to use the farmland resources we have here in Oswego County so these farms can continue as farmland, and not be developed for other, non-agricultural uses,” Schell said.

Schell believes many farmers in New York State are aware of CCE, but are sometimes surprised at the level of attention and expertise they can access through the organization.

“The personalized attention you get through Cornell Cooperative Extension is second to none in business development,” Schell said. “We work step-by-step with local agricultural businesses to help them make the most of their resources. We help them plan and show them the most current practices and research that can help them be more productive and successful in their business.”

In addition to the science of agriculture, CCE of Oswego County is also investing in economic development with its recently appointed agricultural economic development specialist, who works under Schell’s direction.

“The agriculture producers in Oswego County have much to offer,” said Schell. “It is extensions responsibility to help interested local farmers with branding, image, expansion into niche markets, and partnering opportunities in larger markets.”

Schell views positions and resources like this as an example of CCE of Oswego County’s commitment to agricultural viability in the region.

“I’m very passionate about what I do and about farming,” Schell said. “Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County is as well. It’s a good match and I look forward to working with the Extension staff and the agricultural businesses in the area.”

CCE Executive Director Paul A. Forestiere II is excited about his new agricultural team.

“The agriculture program at CCE stresses that farming is business, especially in Oswego County,” Forestiere said. “Many people drive by the mucks and other local farms, purchase goods from local farmer’s markets and think that is agriculture, but this is far from the truth. Agriculture, or agribusiness, is a major economic player in this country, and especially throughout Oswego County. Our role here is multi-faceted as an advisor, a consultant and educator. J.J.’s experience in farming and knowledge in today’s agribusiness environment will be a great asset to our local farmers.”

Schell is committed to helping local farmers and creating a stable and inviting environment for new farms, and possibly even his own farm in the future.

“I have plans to get back into farming some day,” he said. “But for now, I want to see the existing farms in Oswego County prosper and grow.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension is a key outreach system of Cornell University with a strong public mission and an extensive local presence that is responsive to needs in New York communities.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension educational system enables people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work.

If you would to learn more about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, call (315) 963-7286 or visit counties.cce.cornell.edu/oswego/