On her first visit to the New York State Fair, Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett walked past the midway games and deep-fried foods to enjoy the fair’s educational aspects.
In a half day filled with Cornell-related events and tour stops Aug. 31, Dairy Day at the fair, the president took note of the university’s strong influence on the state’s agricultural fabric.
During an interview with 4-H members at the fair’s Youth Building, discussing the importance of that organization for youth and teens, Garrett said: “[This is] a great opportunity to learn leadership skills, gain confidence and the ability to speak in public, and to think on your feet. It’s really great to see how many women are involved in 4-H – along with some terrific young men.”
In 2014, the New York State 4-H Youth Organization – managed by Cornell Cooperative Extension – had 168,385 participants, with about 54 percent of them girls.
“My sister was involved in 4-H … and it seems to me it’s really changing from how I knew it 30 or more years ago,” Garrett said. “It has many more women involved than when I remember – and I’d like to see that continue.”
On Garrett’s busy tour, Stephanie McBath ’19, the reigning New York dairy princess, was the first person to greet Garrett at the fair. The president learned that McBath, an animal science major, had grown up surrounded by Holsteins on her family’s dairy farm.
Garrett then attended the annual Dairy Day breakfast, where she met state legislators and key leaders in the cheese and fluid milk industry, including Bill Magee ’61, chair of the New York Assembly’s Agricultural Committee; and Richard Ball, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Joining Garrett on the tour were Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS); Judy Appleton, vice provost; Susan Brown, associate dean and director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York; Chris Watkins, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension and professor of post-harvest science; Julie Suarez, assistant dean, CALS; and Joel Malina, vice president for university relations.
Sara Millspaugh ’19, president of the New York State FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America), and Kaitlyn Kelder ’16, Cornell FFA club president, gave Garrett a tour of the fair’s FFA building. Millspaugh and Kelder, both agricultural sciences majors, explained how CALS engages students in training and agricultural leadership opportunities.
In its third year at the fair, the Dairy Cattle Birthing Center continues to grow in fair patron popularity. Garrett stopped by the center to speak with Lorin D. Warnick, interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Daryl Nydam, DVM ’97, director of Cornell’s Quality Milk Production Services, and others from the veterinary college to discuss issues in large animal veterinary care.
After breaking for lunch to sample the late poultry science professor Robert Baker’s famous Cornell Chicken recipe – at Baker’s Chicken Coop – Garrett took in the fair’s famous butter sculpture, where she delighted in seeing the refrigerated figurines titled “Thanks for the Milk, Moo York.”
At the wine pavilion, Garrett discussed the wine industry and Cornell’s contributions the state’s grape economy with King Ferry Winery owner Peter Saltonstall ’75. There, seeking to beat the heat, Cornell’s new president and the others sampled a refreshing “Red, White and Blue” wine slushy – a favorite among fairgoers.