March 26, 2013


McEvoy gets farming advocacy award


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Pictured here in the livestock barn on the last day of the 2011 Cortland County Junior Fair, former Cortland County Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Syd McEvoy received the Geraldine Young Friend of Agriculture Award recently.

Staff Reporter

Syd McEvoy was thrilled recently to receive an award named after a woman he knew through his long career in agriculture.
McEvoy, former director of the Cortland County Cornell Cooperative Extension, felt that the Geraldine Young Friend of Agriculture Award was an honor to receive and “really quite humbling.”
McEvoy knew Geraldine Young and her family well, he said, and grew up alongside one of her sons.
“Geraldine was a longtime farm girl, wife and mother and devoted her life to ag (agriculture), dairy and healthy diet,” McEvoy said.
The award was given to McEvoy at an agriculture appreciation banquet March 19.
The dinner at Tinelli’s Hathaway House on Route 41 in Solon was part of a series of three agriculture-related events, including two workshops at the New York State Grange office in Cortland for large and small farmers held March 5 and Friday.
The first workshop targeted issues facing larger farms, including cattle marketing, crop and farm insurance and immigration issues. Friday’s workshop focused on helping smaller farms reach their goals, and extend growing seasons and seize new opportunities for diversification.
McEvoy worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension for 32 years, starting out in Chenango County and spending the last 14 years of his career at the Cortland County Extension, McEvoy said. For 12 years, McEvoy served as the Cortland County Cooperative Extension executive director.
McEvoy first worked as a 4-H educator when he joined the Cortland County extension in 1998, he said, fostering children’s interest in agriculture, and teaching biology, responsibility and community service.
As director, McEvoy was responsible for the various programs and securing grants for the programs and research.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Marathon, McEvoy had participated in 4-H.
“He’s always been a supporter and advocate for ag (agriculture) in all of his roles,” said Amanda Barber, manager of the Cortland County Soil & Water Conservation District, noting McEvoy’s work with Cooperative Extension, as well as his efforts with the New York State Holstein Association, among other farming organizations.
Geraldine Young, of East Homer, founded the Friend of Agriculture award in 1996, Barber said. The award recognizes individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a dedication to promoting agriculture in Cortland County, said Paul Fouts, president of the Cortland County Farm Bureau.
Young herself received the award in 2012, Fouts said. After Young’s death in January, the award was named in her honor.
Young had been a member of Farm Bureau for decades, Fouts said. She joined in 1955.
“Even when she was in a nursing home she was keeping track of it,” he said, adding that Young was passionate about the state hearing about Cortland’s agricultural issues.
Fouts and Young’s son, Brian Young, presented McEvoy with the award.
The Cortland County Business Development Corp. had been involved with the agriculture summit for 20 years, and this year the agency discussed, with other sponsors, how to freshen up the event, said Garry VanGorder, executive director of the BDC and Cortland County Industrial Development Agency. It was decided to break up what had been an all day conference into two evening workshops and an appreciation banquet.
About 150 people attended the banquet, VanGorder said, and speakers were Carl Byrne, CEO and president of Byrne Dairy; Patrick Hooker, director of agribusiness development for Empire State Development Corp.; Carl Haynes, president of Tompkins Cortland Community College, and VanGorder.
Sponsors of the event included Farm Credit East, a Homer credit union, the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, among others.
“It was a nice tribute to a good careeer,” VanGorder said.

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