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  • Cornell Cooperative Extension

After nearly 10 years as the New York State 4-H Director, Andrew Turner ’88, MPS ’98, is moving into a new role as director for Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) beginning Dec. 1.

In this episode of ‘Extension Out Loud,’ Turner shares his vision for moving the organization forward and his deeply personal connection to and appreciation for the CCE educators across the state who selflessly drive and embody CCE’s commitment to New York state communities.

Turner was prepared for his new role by a lifetime of personal and professional experiences. A third-generation extension professional, Turner has led NYS 4-H since 2014, providing program leadership, professional development, and support for one of the largest and most diverse 4-H programs in the nation. Prior to that, he spent two years on campus as CCE assistant director for field operations and communications.

However, it is Turner’s boots on the ground experience at the county level that he says has most prepared him for his role of director. That journey began in 1989 at CCE Rockland County where Turner worked as a 4-H educator for nine years before serving as executive director for CCE Greene County for 14 years.

Turner says having experienced CCE at different organizational levels, as well as being a Cornell graduate, has had a profound impact on the way he views the reciprocal relationships between communities, local CCE educators, and extension faculty and researchers on campus.

“Bailey’s philosophical and literary writing is just so beautiful and grounded, I think it really speaks to his idea of the human place in the natural world, and to our current moment.”
John Linstrom

While appreciative of CCE’s rich history of serving New York communities, Turner also acknowledges the need for extension to adapt and embrace new ways of reaching people. Still, Turner emphasizes the importance of maintaining the human element as part of extension’s two-way exchange of ideas with communities. “We're not information providers only, we're community builders,” he said. “And that happens through collaboration and context and embracing diversity, finding a way to engage all the people.”

Download the podcast to learn more about Turner’s perspective on the future of CCE and extension work as well as his deep admiration for the educators who drive and define CCE’s work across the state.

PAUL: Welcome to Extension Out Loud, a podcast from Cornell Cooperative Extension. I'm your host, Paul Treadwell.  For this episode, I sat down with Andy Turner, who, after nearly a decade as the New York State 4 H Director, is moving into a new role as the Director for Cornell Cooperative Extension.  Turner brings a deep reservoir of experience to this new role, including a family history with the cooperative extension system that spans multiple generations.

The first steps on his path to Extension Director began in Rockland County, working as a 4 H educator.  He later served as Executive Director of CCE Green County, before moving to his role as Director of New York State 4 H.  Having experienced CCE at different organizational levels has had a profound impact on the way Turner views the reciprocal relationships between communities, local CCE educators, and Extension faculty and researchers on campus.

During our conversation, Andy also shares his vision for Cornell Cooperative Extension, emphasizing the crucial elements of resilience, creativity, and communication, as well as the need for Extension to adapt and embrace innovative approaches in reaching people.  Join us in this engaging and thought provoking episode as we uncover the transformative power of Cornell Cooperative Extension with Andy Turner.

PAUL: Welcome. It's great to have you with us.

PAUL: Could you just, for our listeners, introduce yourselves and tell us about the new role you're going to be?

ANDY TURNER: Andy Turner. I'm currently serving as the New York State 4-H director. I've been fortunate enough to be doing that for almost 10 years now. But I'm moving with great excitement into the role of senior associate dean and director for Cornell Cooperative Extension.

PAUL: Talking to you in the past, I've heard you mention your family has been involved in extension for a couple generations. Can you tell us a little bit about that and growing up in an extension family?

ANDY TURNER: Yeah, so I think it comes from an agrarian background. My parents are both from New England, my father from Western Massachusetts, and my mom grew up in New Hampshire, in Belknap County, including the lakes region of New Hampshire. And they were both agriculturally oriented in their youth.

My mom grew up on a dairy farm. The next generation from that a little bit, but my grandfather, my mother's father was a extension agent in New Hampshire, including and during the rural electrification part of extension's history. But he was a dairy specialist in New Hampshire. And I think that agrarian connection to education and agriculture carried through. Both my parents were extension agents at one time. My father was the county agent, 4-H and county director in Livingston County, New York for almost 30 years.

And that's where I grew up I have a lot of other connections through family to campus here, too, to Cornell. And so that to me is very meaningful to be working in extension still as a third-generation extension professional and thinking about the family history there, but also thinking about where do we go now? So balancing those two things I find really fascinating.

PAUL: It is interesting. I mean, having that much of a history with extension, you've seen so many changes over the years. And it really makes me wonder, when you were thinking about applying for this position, what potential or aspect of extension work did you see that was compelling that really urged you to apply?

ANDY TURNER: That's a great question. I think it's having had the opportunity to work as a community-based educator. So I started out as a 4-H educator in Rockland County. And I was there for nine years, the first nine years of my extension career, so getting a sense of what that's like to come into one of those roles and figure out, how does this job work? Where do I fit? How can I make a difference?

Because we're so unique in that we're educators, but it's not structured the way-- no one's coming into your classroom. So there's this aspect of creativity that comes into it, that you have a position description, you have a desk. At that time we barely had email. But it was like, what's needed what's needed in this community? And how can I apply this system to that?

And so that led me into thinking more about the larger picture of extension, which led me back to Cornell to do my master's degree. And then I think I started seeing more of the potential of the leadership side, the administrative side, where there's so much opportunity to support that work and the educators doing the work. And so from there, I went into Greene County as an executive director for 14 years and then came to Cornell.

So I think the answer for me, I think, is that I've seen how extension works at the different levels and how that is an ecosystem, is the way I think of it. And the opportunity to try to contribute to that, support that, and provide leadership for that at this level is just so compelling and so exciting to me.

And I think 4-H in some ways, the state 4-H role is a microcosm of that because you're working with all the counties. You're working with the educators. You're working with campus partners. I got a sense of the national extension component, which is also really fascinating and interesting.

So it felt like the only thing really that would be more fun than that, if there is anything more fun than, would be the extension director role. And so that's why I was really excited about the possibility of moving there.

PAUL: All right, can I just loop back to something? In your early experience in Rockland, you talked about as an educator understanding what's needed in a community. Can we talk about the tension between what's needed in a community and what's offered at Cornell? And how does Extension sit in the middle there and help translate that?

ANDY TURNER: Yeah, I think the land grant concept was-- sometimes we think of it more about how much we needed to bring the latest research, knowledge, and experience out to the communities because that's how we think about it. And that's absolutely true.

However, from the very beginning, there was a reciprocal component that was built into that and that the educational mission, I think of it more as a process. Cornell is strengthened, the research is strengthened if the community engagement piece is working in both directions. So I always thought of it that way.

But I did from the very beginning, maybe because I was a Cornell grad, I really valued that connection and wanted to find ways to make sure that the work we were doing was connected to Cornell and to the research and what was happening there but more in a collaborative way, I think, as opposed to, give me the information, then I give it out like a librarian. Not like that at all, more like the process, and that if we're engaging communities in that process, connecting them to the university and other higher education, it's benefiting both at the same time.

And I've been able to see how that can work. Faculty learn a lot when they work in communities. It changes the way they think about their work. And so I think we have to maintain that two sides to that and make sure that's a very rich conversation and more of a conversation.

So yeah, it's a balance of being connected but also interpreting and figuring out the best way to present that in the community you're working in, which can be incredibly diverse, of course, in this incredible state. So I often think about people who have done that really well. There are so many examples.

But if you just bring the knowledge to the people, it's not going to work. It's more how do we interpret it? How do we work with them in partnership so that we can create a space where this magic can happen?

PAUL: And really, it does go back to we're called Cornell Cooperative Extension. And although cooperative has a very technical definition, in this sense, it really seems to be a cooperative effort between the public, educators, and the university.

ANDY TURNER: Yeah, it's I don't expect everyone to do this. But if you had the opportunity, you really wanted to get a sense of that, I would say read the Ruby Greensmith book, The People's Colleges book, because that really, that was the idea, because we want the people to come here. We don't only want to go there.

When Liberty Hyde Bailey would say things like-- the first Dean of the College of Agriculture, he would say, what is extension work? This isn't an exact quote, but it's something like get on the train, go to the community, get off the train, and find out what the people need help with. That's extension work. So maybe we have to narrow it down a little, but I think it is more about the process of education and what we mean by that than it is about specific subject, matter if that makes sense.

PAUL: Yeah. So you mentioned diversity in New York State. And we, Cornell Cooperative Extension, are a large and diverse organization. So what are the grounding principles or values that knit our system together, in your view?

ANDY TURNER: So I think I would start with education and thinking about how we define that, so our educational mission. But I think of that in the more John Dewey school of education is a process. It's not learning about life. It is life, kind of something like that.

And you have to have collaboration. You have to have trust. You have to have ways to engage that are building collaboration and trust in order for real transformative education to take place. Not that that happens all the time or in everything we do, but I think we should be thinking about it in that way.

We're not information providers only. We're community builders. And that happens through collaboration and context and embracing diversity, finding a way to engage all the people. And it's more about the movement forward than it is about coming to a solution, I think.

PAUL: That really does go back to a question about the public value of extension. We're currently surrounded by competing claims and contentious debates. How do you see Cornell Cooperative Extension positioning itself to enter into the dialogue in a positive and helpful way?

ANDY TURNER: I think we're doing that really well. I think we can certainly do more. But maybe it's more just being intentional and being comfortable with saying that's part of what we're doing. I think maybe that's a big part. So I certainly think part of the Extension mission, a big part of it is the way we do the work and that we engage.

And I think our structure in New York State, sometimes people get exasperated by the structure. It's so decentralized. Another way to look at that is it's so collaborative. It's so partnership oriented. It's not top-down from the university.

I actually think that's the reason we have the most dynamic extension program in the nation. And I've had the good fortune of seeing a lot of different extension programs. And this is unique, what we have. It's precious. And what that means, though, I think, is that it gives us the opportunity to think of ourselves not only as bringing that new information and knowledge, helping farmers, helping families, helping individuals grow and expand their success, but it also means the way we do that can be building community and building trust.

I do think the extension associations are highly trusted in their communities. And we are Cornell. So I think we should embrace that role. Every place we possibly can, we should embrace that and think about how we bring people together, how we value the views. At the same time, we shouldn't be shy about we do have a mission that is based in evidence and science. No reason to be shy about that. That's a big part of what makes us important and valuable to communities.

So I think it's being open and available to all the points of view, also being clear about what our mission is and being willing to see how that does create social fabric. I think about the boards of directors of all the extension offices. We have elected board members that gather together, represent a lot of different views and parts of the community. That's civic engagement. That's building social fabric.

I do think the question you asked about the current context is really important and challenging. There's no question, we have to acknowledge that there is something happening or has happened. And maybe the pandemic made that even more challenging, where people are in their information silos. And I do think extension is positioned as well as any community-based organization to counter that.

PAUL: OK. Out of what you just said there, there were a couple of things that popped up. But one is to do the work the way you're describing it needs a sort of an intentionality and focus that is going to necessitate slowing down a bit. So in our competitive world, where a lot of grant funding is brought into the process, how do we carve out that space to develop that intentionality?

ANDY TURNER: I think there's only one way to, particularly if we're talking about our efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion, and reaching new audiences, it has to be done in stages. It has to be done in building trust and reaching out. And there's going to be time involved before you're having a program that looks like something we typically do. And I think for all of us, myself and all of us in the leadership roles, we should say that is the work. That is the work.

And I do think to be honest and optimistic here, there are grants that allow for that, where there's a planning stage. One of the ones I think about a lot is our Children, Youth, and Families at Risk funding from the federal government, from USDA, which is a youth and family-oriented funding source, but it's built in that way that it starts by creating the community partnerships, building trust with those groups, and then the youth development work comes in. It's a five-year grant cycle. There are other examples, but we can find funding that will allow us to do the work the way we should do it to be successful in those kinds of spaces. Yeah.

PAUL: So we've already touched on this a little bit, but what do you see as the current strengths of our system in New York State?

ANDY TURNER: I think the structure is a strength. And it creates the opportunity for innovation in ways that I don't see necessarily in all the other Extension systems, not that they don't have innovation. But I think the fact that we're so community based, the governance at that level is from there, creates the opportunity to adapt, to engage people directly, and to create real value in the community, which I think is one of the reasons why we've been so strong and continue to be and continue to get that support at the local level. So I think that's a strength.

I think, obviously, Cornell University is an incredible strength. The brand power of Cornell University is just global, right? So the fact that we're part of Cornell University, and we're connected, and there's a real appreciation for that here as well.

So one of the things in thinking about this position was looking at the strategic visions from the two colleges that we work mostly with, College of Human Ecology and Ag and Life Sciences. And their strategic visions have a lot of extension in there. And there are also a lot about working in communities in New York State to address big challenges. So I think we can aggregate our local strength and our program area strength to move into addressing some of those bigger issues.

And we've just had an incredible program yesterday here focused on climate change with educators from all over the state and all the areas of extension work, which is super exciting to see. And they're all thinking about the role they can play in adapting and resiliency around climate. So to me, that's a perfect example of a strength.

We have the connections and the resources here. We have the local connections. And we can bring those things together in ways that are very powerful.

PAUL: You mentioned briefly challenges. When we look ahead for the next, let's say, three years, that seems like a reasonable time frame. What do you see the challenges to extension being?

ANDY TURNER: I think there's a lot of, perhaps, anticipation that some of the technology and some of the changes in society from COVID, although a lot of those things were already underway, are major threats. And I think maybe that's the actual challenge, perhaps, is that we're seeing them through that lens. But I'm not as convinced that they are because I think one of the things we learned from-- so I'm supposed to be talking about a challenge. I am.

But I think there's a flip side, which is COVID showed us that we don't-- although we did what we needed to do to survive, it's not healthy for us right to live that way and to educate ourselves and work together that way. So I think that's the flip side of the challenge, is that you can see the value of a program like extension. Yes, we need to be aware of how people are learning and changing the way they gather information and make decisions. We can't ignore that.

But we're human beings that have we need each other, right, to do things and make decisions. And so I think it's the challenge is also a strength for us. But I think people realize how important that is.

PAUL: Yeah, it was interesting you bring up COVID. Looking back at the past few years, what have we learned about ourselves as a system and how we interact?

ANDY TURNER: I think we definitely learned that we're resilient, and we can be creative and figure out new ways to reach people engage them. Hopefully, I think, we learned that our mission and the way we do the work is really important. And we can't replace that with internet classes only or virtual learning, and that, in fact, that doesn't reach all the goals of education that are part of our mission anyway.

And we can see the implications of that. Working in 4-H, we can see the implications for youth, youth mental health challenges that are on the rise in all kinds of ways. So that sort of human development model of education works for youth. It works for farmers. It works for everybody. And that's us.

At the same time, we do need to bring in technology. Fewer and fewer people are going to find the Extension program by going to the County Extension Office. Not that they won't go there or shouldn't go there, they should. But they're going to find it online.

So we have to get our brand, what we do in a lot of those places so that people run into it. And then they have an experience and see the value. And then they'll engage.

4-H is really trying to do this through a national-level platform that will engage youth virtually. But then hopefully that brings them into 4-H youth development programming hands on and the things that we know really start to elevate their thriving. So I think that concept can work for extension in general as well.

PAUL: We've talked about CALS, and we've mentioned CHE, but Cooperative Extension is a partnership of those two organizations. Can you talk a little bit about your experience working with folks from the College of Human Ecology and how you see that playing out with you assuming the directorship? Are there opportunities there that we should be thinking about?

ANDY TURNER: I think there are really significant opportunities. And it comes through that part of human ecology's mission that's really looking at the impact on the human beings in their workspaces and in families and how we can design solutions there. So if you look at climate change, again, it's a big, overarching challenge. We're going to have to address that through every program area in Extension through the work we're doing with farmers and rebuilding and reimagining how the food system works, through youth development, through our energy programming that's growing, all those things.

And if CALS is creating world-class incredible new research and evidence around how to address some of those things, Human Ecology is doing the same but looking at it through the lens of how are the human beings being impacted? What are the impacts? And what does that look like? And so the opportunity there I see is to bring those two things together through Extension.

And the other thing I would mention is that we have-- so we just had the AG In Service on campus. And we had incredible participation in that. And that's really incredible that we can build on.

We also have lots and lots of educators out there working more in that human development side as parenting and nutrition and 4-H. And I see an opportunity for the college to really provide some real incredible professional development for all of those folks. So I do think there's no reason that we shouldn't be bringing-- just like we did 50 years ago, we still need to be bringing educators here engaging with faculty in both colleges. And they both have unique things to offer that we need in order to really create the kind of outcomes we want to in communities.

PAUL: And this is just totally off to the side, but it's interesting in thinking about this, if there's a climate summit next year, symposium next year, it would be interesting to bring some of the CALS elements into that so that it could be not just focused on some of the CHE elements. It might be a unique experience having CHE and CHE-oriented staff and faculty involved in that conversation as well to come up with a really more holistic view of the impacts of the work that we're doing.

ANDY TURNER: I think that's a great idea. The thing I'm wondering about and I'm looking to see what people think about this and engage and talk about it more is that we have a great mission. I love our mission statement because it talks about how we do the work in terms of that process of Extension education.

But it also has the updated version from whatever, 10 years ago. It has things we're trying to get to, which I think is really important. It's not just doing the Extension mission. It's also about helping people with economic stability and ecological stability. And so I think that's important.

And I think the piece that maybe we could think about more, what's the vision? So we have the mission. We know these are the things we're working towards. We know we have strong programs in these five or six areas. What's the next level? What are the things we want to help change in New York State? To me, that's where the vision is.

And climate is a good example of that. Health equity would be another good example of that. There are several. But then I think in theory, anyway, what that does is it gives everybody, no matter where you are in Extension, whatever county you work in or you're in campus, the regional team, you're working towards those big vision pieces because we would need all the different elements of Extension working together to achieve that kind of outcome. So to me, that's the opportunity for us, is what is that? What are those two or three things that we really want to do to improve the state of New York, bringing us all together towards doing that?

PAUL: So you mentioned two of the two or three things, climate and health equity. Is there a third thing on your list of things that you--

ANDY TURNER: There's probably 10.

PAUL: For the first year, we know we're not going to jump into 10. But what do you see as the priorities for your first year of your directorship?

ANDY TURNER: I think it flows out of things we're already doing, I think. We have in 4-H, for example, really exciting national vision around having the same theory of change for 4-H programming all over the country based on an evidence-based model, the thriving model of positive youth development. So what I've seen with that is it's starting to infiltrate all the ways we do 4-H in New York State. And it gives us a common destination.

Whether you're talking about an animal science program, a robotics program, a public speaking program, the purpose of all those is certainly to learn about those things. But underlying all of that is the positive youth development component and doing the things with youth, building the programs in a way that the evidence shows leads to thriving. And so I think that's an example of how we can generate shared direction and purpose. And I think that can be done in collaboration with the Extension system nationally as well. So certainly food system sustainability and climate and health equity would be some of the key ones that I think we should be embracing.

PAUL: If you were talking to me, I'm thinking about applying for a job at Extension, why would I want to be a member of this system?

ANDY TURNER: Good question. I think the answer is because you probably are thinking about it because you're oriented towards somehow taking something you have a real passion for or spark for and then changing the world with that. That's why you're even looking at Extension. You're interested in that, and you're looking for a place where you can do that.

An extension can provide that for people, and it does. And it also creates opportunities to continue to grow and learn new things because of our connections among our teams but also to the campus. So I think that's the way I would pitch that, is that we're going to give you a space to pursue the thing you really want to see happening in the world. And we're going to support that with other people doing that work and researchers who can help you do that work and engagement with real people and real communities in a way that's less structured than some other ways that education works. So that's the way.

It also hopefully does provide, and I think we do need to do work on that, though, is the career path component of that. How do we continue to support? When we get really incredible people-- and we do all the time. I just met a bunch of them the last two days. You can't help but think how are we going to nurture their career development and show them ways that they can grow in the system. I think that's an area that needs more work.

And we also have to also have to respond to the way people are expecting work to be now, which is definitely more flexible. That's something that's not going to go away. And if we want to attract and retain really talented younger people to Extension, we're going to have to be listening to that and thinking about that.

PAUL: OK. Now, on the flip side, I'm John Smith, and I'm a 70-year-old farmer from Upstate New York. Why should we continue supporting Extension? What's the point? There are all these other sources of information out there. Why should I come to Extension?

ANDY TURNER: I think the question that John is posing is great because it gives us a chance to have a conversation and to find out-- I would ask John some questions. But I think one answer for sure though, is that it has to be not only about the people that we can say, here are the schools we're working with in this county, here are the farms we're working with, here are the youth who have gone through 4-H, and they can tell you why this is a really important program. We need to do that.

But then we have to go to another level to say to John Smith, you're benefiting from that because you have a local food supply. You have youth that are thriving and moving on to college and learning what they want to do with their lives in ways that they wouldn't if they didn't have the 4-H experience potentially. So I think it's the public value.

We have to take those experiences that people are having, and we have to show why that matters to you, even if you're not directly involved in the program. And I don't think it's that hard to do, but it is critical to do that, especially because everything's changing in terms of who those people are, not only John Smith, but the people that are making the decisions about government spending and support. And that's changing in a way that's really good. It creates opportunities.

But if they haven't had experiences with Extension or don't know, they're going to ask those questions. And we need to be able to show them that we have-- we're working with their constituents, and we're providing a public value that goes beyond the individual programs.

PAUL: So you said that to John Smith, the 70-year-old farmer from Upstate New York. The kids are given these opportunities. One potential response is, the kids have been leaving our community for decades now. That has really diminished our community. So you're really not helping me at all.

ANDY TURNER: I think one of the things that I have experienced is sometimes that kind of question is really not what it first seems to be. If there's a conversation that happens, you might find that the person is feeling frustrated and not sure about where their community is going. And that's one of the reasons why you need Extension, because we're going to be the people that are going to listen to that and we're going to think about, what do we do with that?

I guess being comfortable with inviting those kinds of questions and conversations internally as well. So we need to have a lot of those conversations internally also, so being OK with having those more challenging conversations because we make mistakes. I'm going to make mistakes. I've already made two or three today.

It's the culture behind the work, I think, needs to be more about we're creating. We're engaging. We don't know all the answers. And we want to hear what you have to say, John Smith.

PAUL: What would you say to staff around the state and even other system stakeholders about what your first 100 days as director will look like?

ANDY TURNER: So I think the first thing I'm thinking-- there's three different levels to that. One is to really engage with the leadership here on the campus and find out how everybody's doing and where we need to focus our time to really make sure we're a really strong team, and we're providing the value that we need out to all the associations and all the stakeholders. So that's a big part of it, is just listening to people, but listening with the intent of learning and then figuring out where we can go with what we're learning.

So I think that on campus, there's an incredible receptivity to engaging in the colleges. We have two deans that are very bold visions and see Extension as part of that. So I'm seeing nothing but incredible opportunity there.

I'd say the same thing about faculty. Yes, there's changes in faculty, but there's also incredible interest in seeing things get out into communities. And that's happening all across the university. So that's exciting.

With the association level, I think it's listening. We have incredible diversity in the associations but great leadership. We have a lot of new executive directors. And I think that's really exciting and creates opportunity. Providing support, listening, and figuring out, what are those say three or four key things that we could be working on together that would be more transformative?

And I think we know what some of those are, but I think we need to make sure we're on the same page. So we think we know what they are. We need to find out if the associations agree. And then I think the opportunity to work together to move some of these things forward, I really feel like there's an opportunity and an interest in that. Listening, but listening that leads to action, I think, is the way I would describe it.

All the parts of the Extension are critical for working-- the leadership, the campus leadership, association leadership, the volunteers, critical. The thing that ties it all together and moves it forward and recreates it constantly is the educator. And that's what I would want to.

I've been able to do that work personally. I've been able to support people doing that work. And that, to me, is what gives me the most excitement and hope about Extension, is that we attract really motivated, intrinsically motivated people that want to do the work. And they're incredible. They're all over the state.

And one of the things I think we can do better is to let people know that. You could be in a county doing your job, and you don't necessarily know the power of this organization you're working for. I get to see that more. And I think we need everybody else to see it, too, because we have got incredible people working all over the state.

And they are passionate about the work. And they're doing it because they want to change the world. It sounds corny, but it's true. And they are doing that. So I think that's the thing I want people to know, is that's at the core of my philosophy in this role, is to support that, make sure it continues, and to see how we can continue to recreate Extension as we move into the future. And that's the way I'm thinking about the job every day.

PAUL: That in itself is interesting because having been around a while, I have seen educators doing really innovative things but flying under the radar. So to think about having a system that would support that sort of thing is a radical shift in culture, I think.

ANDY TURNER: So there are, obviously, some aspects of the structure that require Cornell to be in a governance role. And that's really critical and important. And it's actually good. That helps everybody.

At the same time, I think there's a philosophy around how we think about that that I would like to see, even if you're, say you're in a finance role on campus-- and I have a great example of this in the 4-H team, Ruth Campbell. She's an incredible finance lead. She knows all the systems and processes at Cornell and how to do that and keeps us afloat and helps us manage all the things.

Also, she cares big time about Extension and 4-H. She knows what the programs are. She cares about them. She comes and volunteers. That would be the other part of that, is that whether you're an administrative, finance, HR program, you're all key to Extension working.

And I'm hoping that people have that identity, not only in their county association or their program or their function, but they're an Extension person, New York State, Cornell Cooperative Extension person, no matter where you are. And it's all about driving the mission forward. And that should be the number one part about it, that we're all together trying to drive the mission forward.

PAUL: We're looking forward to an exciting first year, Andy.

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What trends are we seeing in Extension work nationally and how are state Extension systems rising to meet needs highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic? Dr. Caroline Crocoll Henney, executive director of the national Cooperative Extension System, joins the Extension Out Loud podcast to discuss these questions and the history of the Cooperative Extension System in the latest episode of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Leading through Extension” podcast series.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
Kimberly Kopko



In the early days of Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, Extension educators traveled around the state in demonstration trains to engage directly with families, especially farm wives, in their homes. Today, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Associate Director Kimberly Kopko is reimagining ways to meet families where they are with more portable parenting models that bring learning opportunities to spaces where families already get together, including schools, community and health centers, and, when necessary, online.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension