Long respected locally for its solid research and well-tested practices, Cornell Cooperative Extension Steuben is on the cutting edge in developing Steuben County’s swiftly developing agricultural industry.
Now working on developing a new strategic plan, CCE-Steuben aims at changing
the perception it is the best-kept secret in Steuben.
“Our agricultural programs are central to what we do,” said CCE-Steuben Executive Director Larkin Podsiedlik. “But all of our programs are intertwined and available to everyone. We impact the food system from farm to consumer.”
CCE-Steuben is partnering with Cornell University on a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) research project, which will encourage people to buy local, and shows residents what to do with the local goods once they’ve been purchased.
“So many people rely on fast food or boxed and frozen meals, because it is easier, or seen as less expensive,” Podsiedliksaid. “Well, what we want to do is show people how to prepare home-grown foods that don’t take long to prepare, taste better and saves money.”
The program, and others that CCE-Steuben offers, also provide more markets for Steuben’s growers, she said.
Future agri-business development also has a solid base in the county’s 4-H program. Historically active in preparing children for careers in many aspects of agriculture, local 4-H clubs offer training in robotics, large and small animal husbandry, career development, college preparation, and much more.
“And there is a focus on the ‘soft skills’ associated with employment,” P said. “Such as teamwork, the importance of goals, of hard work, of contributing something to the community.”
Podsiedlikis an example of far-ranging employment opportunities in the agricultural field. The youngest CCE executive director in the state was raised in the farming community of Fabius. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo, she enrolled in Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy program while also earning a master’s in public health.
Podsiedlik spent a year with CCE-Steuben as the Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York Regional Senior Nutritionist, and also worked at Foodlink, a regional food hub and Feeding America food bank in Rochester.
She will celebrate her first year as Executive Director with CCE-Steuben May 1,
and expects to build a strong base for agriculture and related services.
“I want to have big picture conversations about our vision, what we do and what we bring to the community,” she said. “I also want to make sure we maintain a lot of the really strong relationships that already exist. At the same time, I want to bring more parties to the table who may not have been there before and who can help CCE Steuben fulfill its mission.”