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Capitol Hill experience inspires CALS student to pursue legislative career

A woman stands in front of the capital building in Washington, D.C.
After participating in the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and talking with policymakers in Washington, D.C., Stephanie McBath '19 was inspired to pursue a legislative career. Above, McBath stands in front of the capital building in Washington, D.C. Photo provided.

The 2019 delegation of Cornell representatives for the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) had a meaningful impact on Capitol Hill policymakers, as well as the career path of Stephanie McBath ’19. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in animal science, she joined the office of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., as a legislative aide.

McBath traveled to Washington, D.C. with Jan Nyrop, director of Cornell AgriTech, Dianne Miller, senior director of federal relations, and other extension representatives from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). While there, they talked with policymakers on Capitol Hill about federal funding that supports research and extension programs across CALS.  

“This funding is critically important for our faculty so that they can generate preliminary data and vital research to support New York state agriculture,” said Nyrop. “As a student, Stephanie helped convey another important element to policy makers—that federal funding helps build current and next generation agricultural experts.”

McBath said that while lobbying on Capitol Hill she felt invigorated by the connections she made with the staffers there.  She said, “When you bring young people, it certainly grabs the attention of people you’re speaking with. That gave me the opportunity to explain the importance of CALS extension, as well as the direct impact of federal funding on my education.”

Through CARET, McBath realized that one of the ways she could affect the most change for agriculture was through a legislative career. 

“I grew up in a family of dairy farmers, and as much as I love the production side of the business, I realized that I could make a difference by working with people who make decisions about issues that affect farming,” she said. 

McBath started in U.S. Rep. Stefanik’s office on Sept. 12. The congresswoman’s district includes McBath’s hometown of Waddington and spans most of the North Country region. McBath said, “I’m excited for the opportunity to work on behalf of the congresswoman for farmers in our district, in the area of New York state that I’m most familiar with.”

Currently, she’s working on issues related to rural broadband connection, agricultural worker labor reform and the new United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. McBath also helps with news releases and social media. 

“Stephanie, in her role as an agriculture policy advisor to Rep. Stefanik, is the perfect example of a young leader from CALS who is making a difference every day,” said Miller.  

McBath said that the values and education she gained at CALS shape her everyday life.   “I’ve adopted a unique Land-Grant mentality that helps me connect the dots between farmers, legislation and the expertise that CALS can provide,” she said.