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Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County

June 8, 2018 - 8:35pm

In a couple of weeks, Beverly L. Mancuso will visit her brother in Ohio and attend a couple of her nieces' recitals. Once the State of New York releases the retirement funds she long paid into the system, the former executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will consider more elaborate travel plans.

"Bev" spent Thursday saying goodbyes at the extension's headquarters on East Main Street in Batavia, winding down the final hours of 16 and a half years of employment there, the longest of her career.

She is dressed in khaki and coral colors, with "bling," as she calls it, to match. Tanned, with an easy laugh and quick mind, her mien is forthright, she is plain spoken, and admittedly unkeen on "micromanaging" adult professionals.

She left on her birthday at the top of her game, with a solid track record of achievement, and an unclouded sky above her.

There are several reasons for that.

Having steeped herself in the machinations of county government for five years prior to Cornell helped, as did a deep dive into the finances of the extension for the two years she served as business manager and associate director prior to landing the executive directorship.

Before that, her expertise in systems administration helped her develop the skills that could bring greater simplicity and clarity to the administrative side of the cooperative extension. For example, she helped craft a shared business network and that took more than six years to build.

"We already had strong programs, so I focused on the administrative side," Mancuso said. "How could we work smarter and do things differently? I tried to make it easy for people to do their actual jobs, so they're not doing busy work."

And always she kept mindful of taxpayers' money, and how she could be more responsible with it.

The days of 25 employees at Cornell extension in Batavia are history, she said, noting that today there are 10 permanent employees.

One idea she has, this daughter of the nation's creator of the first business incubator, AKA the Batavia Industrial Center, is to have a "one-stop-shop for nonprofits, for human service agencies."

"So we can all maximize the limited funding...we've got to be smarter about how we're doing stuff," she said. "It's not going back to how it was, how it used to be."

Another reason for Mancuso's strength of tenure can be traced to a program she is really proud of perpetuating after others launched it: Leadership Genesee.

Developed at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Batavia, and also unique to it, Leadership Genesee took 10 years to get off the ground.

"It became a force in the community -- all the nooks and crannies -- and what makes it tick," she said. "Every day focuses on a different component of the community. We don't tell them what to think, we just show them how everything works and they make up their own mind."

To date, it has trained more than 500 graduates, including Mancuso, who graduated in its debut Class of 2001.

She says it taught her, among other things, the wisdom to "let go" and allow others to help when a seemingly insurmountable problem arose.

There were 35 people in the latest class and applications for the next one are being reviewed.

The merits of the yearlong program are not lost on area employers.

"A lot of different local employers, they get it, they see the value in it," Mancuso said. "It doesn't really focus on developing traditional leadership skills -- like decision making -- it's about people who really love where they live and gives them an opportunity to see a lot of the things that are going on."

Whether the day's focus is agriculture and farm tours, or economic development and government, or travel and tourism, or nonprofit resources, the range is so broad and the knowledge so finely tuned that the cumulative impact of Genesee-County-as-classroom on the learner is profound, as graduates readily attest.

After completing Leadership Genesee, graduates can apply their skills and knowledge to any area that speaks to them and hopefully be able to make a difference in the community for the better; that's the goal.

"It's the best way for people to learn," Mancuso said. "And really, the issue is, we have bigger needs than we can (adequately) address. Like the opioid crisis."

Her leadership in the leadership program is one reason she was honored as a New York State Woman of Distinction by Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer last month.

Overall, Mancuso says she has learned a great deal by listening to experts in agriculture, which is far and away the main economic engine in this county.

"These guys are so smart," Mancuso said. "(Farming) is so hard. If anybody undersells what they do, it's agriculture. But I've been learning, learning, learning. The people who do this here have such an amazing skill set and they are so brilliant."

She leaves the cooperative extension that helps them, secure in the knowledge that Robin Travis is temporarily in charge.

The interim executive director brings 40 years of experience with the extension and numerous associations in the Finger Lakes region.

The reason why she has come out of retirement for the third time after formally retiring seven years ago to serve in an interim executive capacity is that she has personally seen the positive difference CE makes in people's live -- 4'Hers, homemakers, farmers, business professionals. She also works as a coach to new executive directors, mentoring them.

She has turned down some gigs, but says even though Genesee County is her longest commute -- 92 miles -- it was an easy "yes."

"I look at the strength of the board, their financial position and I look at their programming and how they're doing," Travis said. "And this one is going to be a delight because things are running so smoothly."

Travis planned to meet Thursday afternoon with a senior staff member to do a brief interview to find out what that employee thinks, likes, dreams and would like to see changed or implemented. These one-on-one sessions will continue next week with the rest of the staff.

Travis's part-time job through Sept. 30 is to keep things running as smoothly as Mancuso left them. The executive director position is being advertised and closes July 1. Qualified candidates will be screened through phone interviews and those making the final cut will travel to Batavia for interviews.

A committee, co-chaired by the Board of Directors President Colleen Flynn and the State Specialist and Cornell Representative Renee Smith, oversees the search process.

"I feel strongly that being able to understand our mission and then applying it to everyday life" is key in filling to position, Travis said. "It's a very grassroots organization, so we really try to address the issues that are particular to whatever county we're talking about.

"(The committee) is looking for somebody who knows the mission, who has vision and can see possibilities, and that is not stuck in the past or in what's current, but can really see the future."

Despite the enormous impact of technology on all of the work done at the cooperative extension, it is the relationships with people that are still at the core of everything, Travis said.

"The way you help people change behavior is to form a relationship with them," Travis said.

Those relationships help strengthen the organization's credibility, too, and its accountability.

"The buck stops here," Travis said. "We have the research base; we have the worldwide connection to that research."

Travis is also impressed that Genesee County has a whopping three staff specialists in residence in Batavia, an indication of the power of agriculture in Genesee County: "Expertise at your fingertips."

And Travis's expertise is greatly appreciated by Mancuso.

"She has such a strong background; she knows programs; she knows the system," Mancuso said. "The local piece is different but she already knows and respects that. I think her personality and demeanor are going to play really well here."

Speaking of playing...There were a couple of bottles of beer in a bag on the floor of Mancuso's nearly bare office, parting gifts from colleagues. Maybe she'll sip a cold one while watching "Cold Mountain," which she jotted down as a note to self, following a reporter's suggestion because Mancuso, who is not married, is fond of its star, Jude Law.

He could serve her a cocktail on vacation, say, at Camogli beach in Liguria in Northwestern Italy. She says she would not mind at all.

February 27, 2018 - 5:01pm

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This is the first in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Quickly deflecting any kudos for herself, Bev Mancuso, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, said it’s the staff, volunteers, and community that should be applauded in conjunction with the agency’s selection as the Agricultural Business of the Year for 2017 by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

CCE, along with several other businesses, will be honored at the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner on March 3 at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

“It’s the specialists and experts on the CCE staff who deserve the recognition,” said Mancuso, who is retiring from her position in June after 15-plus years at the East Main Street facility. “They’re the ones who are out in the field, literally. I do what I can to get them what they need to do their jobs.”

Mancuso also had words of praise for those who give of their time to help the agency reach its goal of “growing minds” through nontraditional, experiential learning.

“All of our internal programs are heavily dependent upon volunteers -- 4-H, Leadership Genesee, Master Gardeners. Much fundraising is due to our volunteers. We would be lost without them.”

She also spoke highly of the board of directors, also volunteers, who have been instrumental in building and maintaining a strong organization of employees “very passionate about their jobs.”

“I continue to be amazed with their (staff) dedication and commitment,” she said. “No one is here to just get a paycheck. It really is their calling in life – they live to be here and do this job, despite the funding cuts we’ve experienced over the past few years.”

Mancuso said the agency (there is one CCE in every county in New York State) primarily reaches the farming community – operations big and small – through its involvement with three regional teams – Northwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Fields Crop, Vegetable and Harvest New York.

Currently, 23 specialists from Cornell University interact with all segments of agribusiness, enhancing capacity and infrastructure through on-site farm visits, hours on the muck land, corn and soybean symposiums and newsletter blasts.

Highlights of the work of the three teams include:

-- NWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops: Several “Congresses” in the area of forage, calf/heifer, corn, soybean/small grains, as well as educational opportunities for growing malting barley, Ag workforce development and dairy calf managed housing and feeding systems.

-- Vegetable: A Batavia Field Day to capitalize on the increase in new farms in this area, soil health alliance summer field day, good ag practices farm food safety and research into wholesaling for small-scale vegetable growers, organic farming management and climate awareness.

-- Harvest New York: With a goal of spurring agricultural economic development, the focus is on dairy food processing and marketing, local food distribution and marketing, and farm strategic planning. Projects have been developed to promote the craft beverage industry, and to link Ag businesses with the WNY Tech Academy and GVEP BOCES culinary program.

The Master Gardeners program, coordinated by Jan Beglinger, has had a profound impact upon Genesee County residents, Mancuso said.

“On many occasions, someone will come in and want to start a farm, but don’t know what to do,” Mancuso said. “That’s when Jan gets involved. When you see those businesses start, that’s really cool.”

Last year alone, according to a CCE budget report, 71 Master Gardener volunteers donated 4,842 hours, worth $135,867 at current NYS value of $28.06 per hour to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County.

The CCE of Genesee County was nominated for the award by Christian Yunker, managing partner of CY Farms and a member of the Genesee County Agricultural Committee, said it’s easy to overlook the agency’s numerous benefits to the area.

“We in the industry many times take it for granted – the work that they do and their teams that provide such high value,” he said. “As producers, without that third-party expertise, we’d be left with only our vendors.”

Yunker said it was apropos that Chamber honor is being bestowed during the CCE of Genesee County’s centennial year.

“We believe that it is well-suited that during their 100th anniversary that they receive this award.”

August 1, 2017 - 1:42pm

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Today at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, 420 E. Main St. in Batavia, Master Gardener Maud Charpin (pictured above) presented a class on a “Do it yourself Terrarium.”

She spoke about what is needed to create your own, including supply lists, step-by-step instructions, and pamphlets for websites with video tutorials.

There are many types of creative ways to design your own terrarium including using glass to see through, small stones, dirt, different plants including moss, plus coffee filters, potting soil and decorations non-porous, non-organic. She said plants with different changing colors are a plus, too.

The half hour free monthly demonstrations are every first Tuesday of each month called “Garden Talk” presented by the Genesee County Master Gardeners. The open-to-the-public event is from 12:15-12:45 p.m. and registration is not required

Any questions call the office at 585-343-3040, ext. 101. Information can be found on genesee.cce.cornell.edu and their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CCEofGenesee

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August 14, 2014 - 3:00pm

 Beginning September 10, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will begin training a new class of Master Gardeners through our “Principles of Gardening” program.  Classes will be held at the CCE office at 420 East Main Street, Batavia on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 pm through November 19.  (There will also be a full day session on Saturday, November 8.)  Pre-registration by August 25 is required as the class size is limited.

Participants will enjoy learning about a variety of horticulture topics including: botany, plant pathology, entomology, soils & fertilizers, lawn care, vegetable gardening, weed identification, woody ornamentals, fruit, perennials and annuals.  Each class will focus on a different topic throughout the training.

Anyone interested in learning more about gardening may attend the course.  The fee for training is $225 per person.

This training is the first requirement to becoming a Genesee County Master Gardener.  Genesee county residents who complete the course are then eligible to apply to the Genesee County Master Gardener program.  (Other county residents should contact their local Master Gardener program.)  A Master Gardener volunteer should have a willingness to give back to the community and help put into practice what they learned at training.  Enthusiasm for sharing their skills and knowledge is a must.

For an application or to register contact Brandie Schultz at 585-343-3040, ext. 101 or stop by the Extension office at 420 East Main Street in Batavia.

April 8, 2014 - 4:58pm

Genesee County Master Gardeners will be offering their popular Coffee and Dessert Series this spring.  Participants enjoy a variety of gardening topics taught by Master Gardeners along with coffee, tea and dessert.

 

April 9 – “Herbs & Edibles”.  Growing a kitchen garden with herbs and other plant edibles is a great way of combining two of our favorite pastimes, gardening and eating!  After a long winter and checking the food prices on the grocery shelves, there is so much reward in starting your own garden of herbs and plant edibles.  With little space and $$, you can start this spring project with the kids, family and friends!  Call to register.  Space still available.

 

April 16 – “Square Foot & Container Gardening”.  Would you like to grow nutritious, great tasting vegetables but always come up with the same excuses?  Too much work – too many weeds – takes too much space – bad soil…  Square Foot Gardening solves all these problems in a simple, easy and logical manner.  Let us show you how it is done.  Still not sure?  Try growing your veggies in a container.  We will share with you the basics of container gardening.  Registration deadline is April 11.

 

April 23 – “Groundcovers - the Rodney Dangerfield of the Plant World”. -  Ground covers are more than the plants of last resort for difficult to grow areas.  Find out when and where to use these versatile plants to both benefit and enhance your gardens and landscapes.  Registration deadline is April 18.

 

April 30 – “Nobody Eats Nightshade, Everyone Eats Potatoes”.   Even within the same plant family, parts of one plant can be eaten while another plant should be avoided.  Learn to know the difference to keep your pets and family safe.  Registration deadline is April 25.

 

All programs are from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 420 East Main Street, Batavia.  Cost is $10 per person per class.  Pre-registration is required as class size is limited.  Contact Brandie at 585-343-3040, ext. 101 or stop by our office at 420 East Main Street in Batavia to register.  For more information visit our website at: www.genesee.shutterfly.com.

August 8, 2012 - 4:48pm
Company Name: 
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County
Job Type: 
Part-Time
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County is hiring a part-time Nutrition Educator. The successful candidate will will provide education to low-income and other County residents, including food stamp applicants and recipients, to improve their nutrition, food safety, food resource management and food preparation skills through Genesee County CCE Nutrition Education Program (comprised of two separate but similar grant-funded programs: EFNEP (the Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program); and ESNY (the Eat Smart New York Program).
August 1, 2012 - 4:57pm
If you would like to help improve your community and enjoy gardening, landscaping and related activities, please consider becoming a Master Gardener volunteer. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will be offering the popular Master Gardener Training series on Wednesday evenings, September 5 through November 14 from 5:45 to 9:00 p.m. Participants will be required to attend an additional training on Saturday, November 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sessions will be held at the Extension office at 420 East Main Street, Batavia. Master Gardener Training covers a wide variety of horticulture topics including: botany, growing fruit at home, herbs, insects, perennials, organic gardening, pruning, soils & fertilizers, turf grass, vegetable gardening, weed identification, woody plant materials, and how to diagnose plant diseases/problems. Anyone interested in learning more about gardening may attend the course. Graduates of the program are then eligible to become Certified Master Gardeners by volunteering time on horticultural projects with their local Extension Office. A Master Gardener volunteer should have a willingness to give back to the community and help put into practice what they learned at training. Enthusiasm for sharing their skills and knowledge is a must. Pre-registration by August 22 is required. No walk-ins will be allowed. The fee for the series is $225 per person. Class size is limited. For an application or to register contact Brandie Schultz at 585-343-3040, ext. 101 or stop by the Extension office located at 420 East Main Street in Batavia. More information can be found on the Genesee County Extension website at http://genesee.shutterfly.com/gardening.
March 29, 2011 - 3:46pm

Barbara Sturm, 4-H Youth Development and Agriculture in the Classroom Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, has received the “Achievement in Service Award,” by the New York State Association of Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educators (NYSACCE4-HE) and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA).

This prestigious award recognizes 4-H Educators who have been creative and innovative in programming efforts with demonstrated results. Ms. Sturm was nominated for the recognition by 4-H Youth Development Educators Paul Webster and Charles “Chip” Malone with letters of support for her dynamic and creative educational efforts coming from multiple local and regional 4-H staff, 4-H volunteers and Cornell University-based staff.

“Barb consistently produces significant, positive impacts while being committed to personal and program excellence. The high quality of her work is seen in her dedication and leadership with 4-H and Ag in the Classroom Initiatives” one supporter wrote.

State and National recognition will be extended to Barbara at the NYSACCE4-HE and NAE4-HA annual conferences in October 2011.

March 29, 2011 - 3:46pm

Barbara Sturm, 4-H Youth Development and Agriculture in the Classroom Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, has received the “Achievement in Service Award,” by the New York State Association of Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educators (NYSACCE4-HE) and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA).

This prestigious award recognizes 4-H Educators who have been creative and innovative in programming efforts with demonstrated results. Ms. Sturm was nominated for the recognition by 4-H Youth Development Educators Paul Webster and Charles “Chip” Malone with letters of support for her dynamic and creative educational efforts coming from multiple local and regional 4-H staff, 4-H volunteers and Cornell University-based staff.

“Barb consistently produces significant, positive impacts while being committed to personal and program excellence. The high quality of her work is seen in her dedication and leadership with 4-H and Ag in the Classroom Initiatives” one supporter wrote.

State and National recognition will be extended to Barbara at the NYSACCE4-HE and NAE4-HA annual conferences in October 2011.

July 8, 2010 - 11:01pm

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Nicole from Cornell Cooperative Extension joined in with Care-A-Van Ministries on their weekly cookout at Central Avenue Thursday evening.

She had a very interesting presentation on how much sugar is in common items we drink. If you were there, you would think twice about drinking that mountain dew!

Cornell Cooperative has become a regular partner with Care-A-Van. In the winter  time, the girls from the office make delcious soups to take out and feed the neighborhoods. They educate the people of the free services they have to offer. Several people attending this evening signed up for nutrition  classes.

July 3, 2010 - 10:24am
Event Date and Time: 
July 9, 2010 - 6:45pm to 10:15pm

 

May 25, 2010 - 10:56am

Leadership Genesee’s 7th Annual Golf & Bocce Ball Tournament is at 11:30 a.m. June 14 at Terry Hills Golf Course.  Gold sponsor of the tournament is Clark Patterson Lee. 

 

Teams may sign up for the four-person scramble that includes lunch, green fee, cart and buffet dinner for $100 per person by June 1st, $115 after June 1.   Registration for Bocce Ball is $50 per person and it includes lunch and dinner.  Dinner only is $30 per person. 

 

For team registration and sponsorship information, contact Leadership Genesee director, Peggy Marone at 343-3040 x 118, register on-line at www.leadershipgenesee.shutterfly.com or pick up a registration form at Cornell Cooperative Extension Genesee County, 420 East Main Street.

 

Leadership Genesee creates an experience promoting active leadership for Genesee County and is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension that offers equal program and employment opportunities.

 

May 25, 2010 - 10:53am
Event Date and Time: 
May 25, 2010 - 10:00am to June 1, 2010 - 5:00pm

Leadership Genesee’s 7th Annual Golf & Bocce Ball Tournament is at 11:30 a.m., Monday, June 14 at Terry Hills Golf Course. Gold Sponsor of the tournament is Clark Patterson Lee.

Now until June 1, teams may sign up for the four-person scramble that includes lunch, green fee, cart and buffet dinner for $100 per person. But after June 1, the price is $115. Registration for Bocce Ball is $50 per person and it includes lunch and dinner. Dinner only is $30 per person.

May 7, 2010 - 1:47pm
Event Date and Time: 
May 12, 2010 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Master gardener Jan Beglinger invites people to learn how to landscape with edible plants at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office, at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12.

The cost is $10 per person, and participants are asked to make reservations. To do so, call 343-3040, ext. 106 or e-mail Amy Berry at [email protected].

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