Extension honors long-time volunteers and supporters

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 2 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Kristina Gabalski – Sharon Smith (left), principal of the Kendall Elementary School, receives a “Friend of 4-H” award from Jennifer Wagester, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County during the organization’s annual meeting on Tuesday evening. Smith was recognized for the school’s support in hosting 4-H clubs.

KNOWLESVILLE – Local officials, Cornell Cooperative Extension staff, 4-H Leaders, volunteers and friends gathered Tuesday evening for the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension annual meeting at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Jennifer Wagester, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, reported on 2015 highlights, which included an increase in programming for nutrition with participation in the federal Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the addition of a nutrition educator to the staff. The Master Food Preserver program was also revived and a three-day training held during the fall.

Wagester reported the most significant increase in program enrollment was in 4-H with the addition of 84 new members, a record growth of 24 percent. She noted the 4-H program is on its way to meeting the 2016 enrollment goal of 500 youth.

The highest facility update was in the Trolley Building kitchen made possible by grant funds, the Fern Blackburn Memorial, Fair Committee, the Leaders’ Association and a concession stand hosted by staff. A fire suppression hood was installed and the range refurbished. Additionally, a three-bay sink was installed along with a commercial refrigerator.

“These positive changes occurred because our volunteers, staff, community members, and county legislators worked together to make a difference in the lives of Orleans County residents,” Wagester said.

Long-time Lake Ontario Fruit Program Team Leader Debbie Breth receives recognition in honor of her upcoming retirement from special guest, Dr. Chris Watkins, Cornell Cooperative Extension director.

Neil Johnson, right,receives the Legacy Award from Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors President Ed Neal while Board Vice President Erin Anheier looks on.

Anheier said the Legacy Award is special as it is not given annually. She noted Johnson has served Extension and 4-H over the last 40 years in “as many capacities as possible.” She said the History of the Orleans County 4-H Fair, written by Johnson, was his most lasting and profound contribution over those years. The history provides, “Valuable insight into the past…. which would have been lost,” without Johnson’s efforts, Anheier said.

“I love 4-H,” Johnson said in accepting the award. “I couldn’t think of a better organization to give my time to.”

Stephen Kruger (left), architect, and his dad, Warren Kruger, Kendall Highway Superintendent, were honored along with Oak Orchard Concrete with Friend of Extension Awards.

All three worked with the Extension in 2015 donating time, expertise and materials to help make much needed structural repairs to the Curtis Pavilion on the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. Board of Directors member Vincent Flow of Holley made the presentation and noted the Pavilion, which was constructed decades ago, was beginning to tilt to the northeast.

Nineteen posts supporting the Pavilion were reinforced, and Flow said Oak Orchard Concrete was always very prompt with deliveries, even though they were needed sporadically throughout the project.

Through the efforts of the Krugers and Oak Orchard Concrete, Extension was able “to minimize the cost without sacrificing the quality of the job,” Flow said.

Other special awards went to Shelly Daggs, Outstanding 4-H Leader; and Sara’s Garden Center (Kathy Kepler), Friend of the Master Gardeners.