BATH — A regional team expected to provide Steuben County‘s agribusinesses the boost farmers are looking for has added two more members with solid hands-on experience and sound educational credentials.
Alycia Drwencke and Amy Barkley recently joined Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) Southwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Crops Program, with Drwencke’s most recent experience as a CCE Dairy Management Specialist, and Barkley providing background in livestock and small farming.
The pair will join other members of the SWNY program which will serve farmers and related businesses across Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Steuben counties with up-to-date information on dairy, field crops and forage, livestock and business management.
Both women bring a lifelong background in farming, as well as degrees from universities nationally recognized for excellence in agriculture.
“Growing up on a small farm in (Tunhannock) Pennsylvania gave me an inside look at the lives of people like my dad and grandfather,” said Barkley, a Pennsylvania State graduate with a two degrees in Animal Science.
One of her earliest memories was being presented with a flock of chickens to care for – something that may have stood her in good stead after graduation from Penn State when she worked with large and small farms for Eggland’s Best.
Drwencke grew up on a small farm in Michigan, developing the deep respect for agriculture she brought with to her bachelors studies in Animal Science at Michigan State University and later earning a masters at the University of California Davis.
“I bring a lot of passion for dairy,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to be involved in the industry first-hand and in a unique way. Working in these counties is very appealing.”
Drwencke and Barkley believe their first step in working with local agribusinesses is to listen to, and take their lead from, the farmers’ ideas, opinions and experiences.
While the dairy industry faces many challenges, Drwencke said the nature of the business may be its greatest asset, as well.
“There are a lot of dairies here,” she said. “There is a culture that has lasted a long time here, that’s a real strength. Something is going right. And it will continue.”
Barkley sees a future for small farms and enterprises in Steuben and the other counties.
“There’s a vast opportunity for diversity,” she said. “Small farms, backyard farms. There are a lot of full time and side occupations.”
The pair will refer anyone with business start-up questions to another member of the SWNY team, Katelyn Walley-Stoll.
“I can tell them if can be done,” Barkley said. “Katelyn can tell them how it can be done.”
A fourth member of the regional team, Josh Putman, heads up the team’s Field Crops and Forage section.
“We are here to provide a network for agriculture, look at strategies, provide information,” Drwencke said. “Ag is so similar in these counties, we think this team is a natural fit for this region.”
The Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Program with Cornell Cooperative Extension offers educational programming and research based information to agricultural producers, growers, and agribusinesses in the five county region of Southwestern New York. The program is designed to meet the rapidly changing needs of our region's diverse agricultural community.
Specialists work with Cornell Faculty and Extension Educators statewide to address the issues that impact the agricultural industry and provide services to farms of all sizes and production techniques. The educational programming and support ranges from workshops to on-farm events and includes one-on-one consultations.
A 2020 update by the SWNY team is set for 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at Bovine Supply Plus, 7508 Loon Lake Road, Hornell.
The cost is $20 per person. Register at least four days before the event by contacting Kelly Bourne at (585) 268-7644 ext. 10; email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or online at swnydlfc.cce.cornell.edu/events.php
Cash and checks will accepted at the door or registrants pay with a card by registering online.