Extension picks Robert Batt as new executive director

Photo by Tom Rivers: Robert Batt is the new executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County. He is pictured outside the “Buzz” Hill Education Center in Knowlesville.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2017 at 11:22 am

KNOWLESVILLE – Robert Batt has been deeply involved with the 4-H program at Orleans County since he was 8.

When he aged out of 4-H at 19, he promptly signed up to be a volunteer, working on the Fair Committee for the annual week-long 4-H Fair in late July.

Batt, now 36, is the new executive director for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County. He wants to push the 4-H program and fair, as well as other Extension efforts that support agriculture, consumer science, nutrition, gardening and ag in the classroom.

Robert Batt is pictured with Alice Mathes, a 4-H club leader, in July 2014, when the two were getting ready for the 4-H Fair. The 4-H program saw a big jump in enrollment in Batt’s three years as an educator.

The Extension board of directors selected Batt last week to be the new director. He was chosen over nine other very qualified applicants, said Ed Neal, the board chairman.

Batt’s hiring wasn’t official until Wednesday when he received final confirmation from Cornell in Ithaca.

“He understands what is going on in Orleans County,” Neal said. “He is very dedicated to his job and he presents himself well.”

Batt has worked the past three years for Extension as a 4-H educator. He started his career at Rainbow Preschool in Albion, working as a teacher for 10 years for The Arc of Orleans County. Batt has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

The 4-H program took a big leap under Batt, including a new partnership with the Kendall school district, Neal said. Batt has proven himself, over and over, Neal said.

“We recognize his talents at the office,” he said. “I think he will do well as the executive director.”

Batt will lead an office with six full-time and three part-time employees. The Knowlesvlle site is also the base for five full-time specialists who work in regional fruit and vegetable teams through Cornell.

Batt said Extension provides many important services to the community, from youth development, to strengthening agriculture and helping residents grow more vibrant gardens that benefit their own health.

“I’m passionate about 4-H and all of the Extension programs,” he said this morning.

Batt was active in 4-H with clubs for rabbits and goats, as well as serving in the Senior Council. He also exhibited numerous animals at the fair. Those experiences were important in shaping his childhood, and remain powerful, positive memories, Batt said.

He wants that same opportunity for hundreds of children in Orleans County.

The Extension is celebrating its centennial this year.

“I’m excited to be a part of this organization, especially as we close out our first 100 years and look forward to the next 100,” he said.

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