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Animal science staff members earn teamwork award

Dean Boor shakes hands with Heather Darrow and Kelly Smith

Heather Darrow and Kelly Smith earned the Core Value Staff Award for Teamwork for the remarkable and highly dedicated support they provide from within the Department of Animal Science. Darrow, a conference coordinator, and Kelly Smith, an administrative assistant, are both members of the Dairy Management Group and PRO-DAIRY Team.

The Dairy Management Group advises, teaches and fosters experiential learning opportunities for approximately 100 undergraduate students. Smith takes the lead on undergraduate program support with key assistance from Darrow on specific aspects of the programs and activities.

Both Darrow and Smith support the dairy management undergraduate course curriculum, which encompasses fourteen courses, eight of which have a hands-on laboratory component. Most include multiple field trips per semester either during course time or on the weekends. Several of these courses involve intensive case farm analyses. Together, Darrow and Smith provide complex logistical support to ensure all needs are met, including transportation, meals, meeting and presentation space, and hotels as needed.

International study trips are an important part of these programs and Darrow and Smith research and coordinate all the logistics and complexity of international travel for groups of students and faculty. Planning a recent trip to China was especially challenging as entry visas had to be secured for all travelers along with flights and program coordination with colleagues at China Agriculture University. Darrow and Smith took charge, ensuring that everyone had current passports and appropriate entrance visas. This process took two months to complete while navigating the rules and regulations of the U.S. State Department and China.

Darrow and Smith also oversee campus visits for prospective students and families, acting as a touch point from the moment potential students arrive for a visit and throughout their undergraduate years. These early relationships often last beyond graduation when alumni stay connected to CALS as dairy industry partners. 

Equally demanding is their work to support the many extension and outreach activities of the Dairy Management Group faculty and PRO-DAIRY program staff. The majority of the extension programs are supported by participant fees. With approximately twenty programs a year in support of the dairy business management effort, planning and budgeting are critical to the success of the programs. Darrow has been instrumental in developing a budget template for all programs and continually improving the layout to improve the accuracy and usefulness of the data.

Smith, a newer member of the team, has stepped up to lead the undergraduate student support efforts. With a significant focus on experiential learning for the senior dairy management students, nothing is ever the same from semester to semester. Smith's ability to effectively communicate with students and faculty, organize event details, prepare assessment supplies and materials and handle last-minute changes allows the students to get the most from these experiences and faculty to focus on the students and host businesses.

The Core Value Staff Awards recognize staff whose performance has gone far beyond the standards defined by Cornell’s Skills for Success, recognizing performance that surpasses expectations and makes a significant and/or unique contribution to the college. The award for teamwork is presented to a group or individual who works effectively and cooperatively with others and builds an environment of trust through respect, compassion and empathy.

"Heather and Kelly, thank you for your tireless efforts to support the programs that benefit our undergraduate students and the dairy industry of New York state," Kathryn J. Boor '80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), said at the award ceremony.

Meet all of our 2017 Research, Extension and Staff Award winners