Extension honors 3 families with long track records of service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Flansburgs, Paneks and Southcotts all recognized

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Flansburg family includes, from left: Ben, Sara, Barry, Carolyn, Amanda and Chris. They were presented with a “Friend of Extension” award on Tuesday.

KNOWLESVILLE – They are dependable, year after year, finding new ways to help 4-H and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

These three families – the Flansburgs, Paneks and Southcotts – should not go unappreciated or publicly recognized, said Ed Neal, president of the board for the Cooperative Extension.

On Tuesday the organization presented “Friend of Extension” awards to the three families. Neal said they all help in their own ways, and have been critical to the success of Extension, 4-H and the annual fair.

Barry and Carolyn Flansburg met as kids and became friends through the fair. Their children joined 4-H and showed animals at the fair, earning many blue ribbons. Now that their kids are grown, Barry and Carolyn are still a presence at the fair. Barry announces the very popular grease pole competition.

The Flansburg children are stepping up as leaders in the community. The three – Ben, Chris and Amanda – are co-owners of BCA Ag Technologies. They work with local farmers in precision agriculture, mapping fields and using GPS, Autosteer and other technology to boost yield and improve soil health.

Chris, 23, has joined the board of directors at the CCE. His sister Amanda, 23, is the newly elected president of Orleans County Farm Bureau. Ben is an officer with the Barre Fire Company. He also met his wife, the former Sara Dresser, through the fair.

“The Flansburgs are always here,” Neal said.

Michael Southcott and his wife Barbara donate countless hours to the Extension. Their daughters were active in the 4-H horse program. Mrs. Southcott was a leader in the Horse Program Development Committee, helping to organize clinics, classes and shows.

Mr. Southcott was a leader of the fund-raising campaign for the new Extension Education Center. That project was paid off this year.

The Panek family – Jim and Kerry and their children – have donated resources, time and money to the Extension.

Neal cited the example of the Paneks allowing a 4-H Lego League Club to use several rooms at an onion packing facility in Albion. The club is able to store Lego robots and supplies so the three teams don’t have to pack up after every meeting.

Alan Panek refurbished the big metal pie pan that was used to make the world’s largest apple pie in 1977. The pan needed repairs and Alan took care of it. It is prominently displayed at the fairgrounds.

Alan’s wife Guin is a former Extension employee. Katie Panek, now Katie Klotzbach, also worked for the Extension. Both of those former employees remain supportive of the Extension programs. Those two and Kerry Panek volunteer as evaluators for 4-H projects, helping to get youths ready to exhibit at the fair.

The family also has been a generous buyer in the 4-H market auction program.

The Extension generally awards two “Friend of Extension” awards each year, but Neal said the organization made an exception this year, wanting to recognize three families with years of commitment to Extension.

(The Southcotts and Paneks were unable to attend Tuesday’s annual meeting to accept their awards.)