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  • Cornell AgriTech
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Agriculture
Jared Buono, executive director for Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Ulster County, has been named director of the Cornell Hudson Valley Research Laboratory (CHVRL) in Highland, New York, effective Oct. 17

The CHVRL, founded in 1923, is a successful public-private partnership between Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and local fruit and vegetable farmer members of the nonprofit Farmer’s Alliance for Research and Management (F.A.R.M.). As a satellite New York state agricultural experiment station, CHRVL is focused on timely research and technological innovations to help Hudson Valley farmers thrive.

Buono, who grew up on his family’s farm in nearby Saugerties, New York, has been working with farmers and doing extension work for most of his life. After completing his doctorate in hydrology at the University of Arizona, Buono spent the next decade in Indialeading NGOs, government and community partners in building collaborative watershed management programs in rural areas. In 2017, he returned to the U.S. to take his role with CCE Ulster. There, Buono worked with extension educators, volunteers and local partners to diversify funding and expand programming, which impacts 20,000 residents annually.

Unlike previous CHVRL directors whose primary role was research, Buono’s expertise in extension and alliance-building is an asset that Anna Katharine Mansfield, associate director of Cornell AgriTech, said will bring a strong applied and stakeholder-focused point of view to the lab’s future. Jan Nyrop, the Goichman Family Director of Cornell AgriTech, agreed that Buono’s leadership of CHVRL is an essential step toward CALS’ vision of building a more integrated agricultural research and extension program in the Hudson Valley.

“We need strong leadership in place to enhance further investment and connectedness,” Nyrop said. “Jared has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to do this, and to lead an organization in expanding its capabilities, adapting to changing environments and needs, and connecting constituents who impact agriculture in the Hudson Valley.”

Today, farmers in the heart of the middle Hudson Valley produce $124 million in fruit and vegetable products annually – representing about half of the region’s total agricultural sales. The Hudson Valley is one of New York state’s major apple producing regions and has rich, rare muck soils ideal for growing onions. Other important crops grown there include sweet cherries, berries, grapes, sweet corn and squash. Many Hudson Valley farmers are also expanding into value-added farm products, especially wine and hard cider.

At CHVRL, Nyrop said Buono’s charge will be to engage not only with these constituents, but also with other Cornell faculty whose research programs impact the region, and to optimize those impacts through collaborations with local nonprofits, politicians and county extension programs. Buono wasn’t planning to leave his extension role, but said he recognized the potential for making an even larger impact through CHVRL.

“My mandate for the lab is to create stronger ties with all stakeholders and anyone at Cornell who wants to conduct research here,” Buono said. “That’s how we’ll expand our capabilities to shape the next iteration of agricultural research and extension in the Hudson Valley.”

Like Buono, F.A.R.M.’s board of directors is eager to get the ball rolling after two years of reduced capacity at the lab due to faculty retirements and COVID. Board President Sarah Dressel-Nikles, B.S. '11, fourth generation co-owner of Dressel Farms in New Paltz, New York, described the transition as a new season, full of growth opportunities.

“We’re excited for what the future holds,” Dressel-Nikles said. “Jared’s research background, combined with proven leadership skills at CCE, give him unique insight into agricultural research, Cornell’s scope and the Hudson Valley. We’re looking forward to working together to rebuild and restaff the lab in order to continue our legacy of timely and important research for our growers.”

Sarah Thompson is a writer for Cornell AgriTech.

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