GAINES – On the cusp of the celebration marking the upcoming centennial of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension/Orleans County Farm Bureau, the Extension held its 2016 Annual Meeting on Tuesday evening at Tillman’s Village Inn and honored many supporters.
“We will have a lot of things this next year to celebrate,” Extension Interim Executive Director Deb Roberts said as she opened the annual meeting.
She referenced the 2016 Annual Report which shows, “renewed vigor in our program. It’s really important to see that.” Roberts added that the search committee continues to work to find a new executive director following the resignation of Jennifer Wagester last summer.
Roberts said she is happy to have programs such as the Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program and the Master Food Preserver Program returned to OCCCE and revitalized.
Laura Bentley, Cheryl Kast, Ed Neal, Charles Pettit and Patrick Woodworth were elected to the Extension Board of Directors. Kast and Woodworth are new members.
Retiring board members Don O’Keefe and Gary Blackburn were recognized and O’Keefe additionally was presented with a Friend of Extension Award for his work to “bring awareness to the public of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension,” Board President Ed Neal said.
O’Keefe worked for 40 years as art director at Channel 13 in Rochester, and has used his artistic talents in his volunteer service for the Extension. He served as a member of the Extension Board of Directors for seven years and is also a Master Gardener.
O’Keefe created the Master Gardener Makeover contest and designed the 2017 OCCCE Centennial logo. Neal called O’Keefe a “deep thinker” and thanked him for his years of service.
Retiring Board of Directors member Gary Blackburn of Medina was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for his service. Board President Ed Neal noted Blackburn’s tireless work of “taking care of everything” at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Knowlesville.
Mike Elam also received a Friend of Extension award. Elam is well known to fairgoers and 4-Hers for his work in the log cabin on the fairgrounds.
This year Elam worked to repair and replace cracked pipes in the Lartz Building and also worked to winterize pipes on the fairgrounds. His work to replace and install a new water heater for bathrooms on the fairgrounds ensured that there would be hot water during fair week.
Elam’s efforts, “saved a lot of money,” Roberts said.
Long-time 4-H leader Pauline Lanning received special recognition for her 50 years of service. She has been an active 4-H leader who runs the Senior Council Stand. (The Pauline Lanning Building is named in her honor.)
“There are no words to sum up” what Lanning means to Extension and the 4-H Program, said 4-H Educator Robert Batt said.
Linda Roth received the Friend of 4-H Award. Robert Batt said Roth owns her own consulting and design firm and has designed many kitchens.
She has been helping 4-H to re-design the food stands for fair, including the 4-H Senior Council Stand, the Pie Stand and the French Fry Stand.
Jeannette Riley was recognized for sharing her garden on Braley Street by the Erie Canal in Albion in the 2016 Down the Garden Path tour, presented by Orleans County Master Gardeners.
Riley has also offered her spectacular yard as the site for a modified garden tour in 2017, which will feature a formal garden party.
Zach Welker and Chrissy Bloom received the Outstanding 4-H Leader Award. The two are leaders of the Orleans County 4-H Dairy Club, which has seen a large growth in members. The club annually hosts a fund-raising roast beef dinner and is assembling baskets of dairy products for families in need this holiday season. Batt said the highlight of his day is getting a call from Zach informing him, “…so I have this crazy idea.”
Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard also spoke at the annual meeting and presented a talk on “A Day in the Life: 1917,” as a way to begin the centennial year. Ballard noted that 100 years ago, there eight newspapers in Orleans County, 73 grocery stores and 22 hotels. He said the establishment of the OCCCE/Orleans County Farm Bureau in 1917 helped to lead the way in local conservation and educational efforts which made “rural life more attractive.”