Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County Closes Offices on Biweekly Basis; Continued Budget Constraints Cited
Online PR News – 04-June-2013 – JERICHO, NY – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County (CCE-NC) regrets to announce mandatory unpaid furloughs for all employees, effective immediately, with staggered closures of the Jericho office and East Meadow Farm. The latter will close first on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, and the Jericho office will be closed on Friday, June 14th. Additional closures will continue throughout the summer on a biweekly basis, with deeper cuts expected in the fall, absent a line item allocation in the next annual Nassau County budget.
CCE-NC Executive Director Laura Hunsberger lamented the measure, which reduces public access to the many resources and services that have been offered by extension to Nassau County residents for almost a century. Hunsberger said, “It is with extremely heavy hearts that we are forced to implement additional cost-saving measures, which necessarily limit the low and no-cost public services we provide, and meaningfully cut the incomes of a dedicated staff. Unfortunately, the current financial reality is that CCE-NC cannot continue to operate without a permanent county budget allocation. This is one in a series of unfortunate measures taken to maintain CCE-NC as a going concern into its centennial year. However, without an annual county budget allocation, CCE-NC’s one-hundredth year may be its last.” Hunsberger added, “The looming threat of closure is now palpable, and it would redound to the people of Nassau adversely if the wide array of public services provided faithfully by Extension since 1914 were simply to disappear.”
The § 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has undertaken a variety of fund-raising activities and grant-funded programming in the last year, which temporarily staved off these new cutbacks, but the severe financial constraints the nonprofit continues to experience have mounted to the point which make these measures immediately necessary.
Hunsberger also addressed the two-fold impact of county budget elimination: “A meaningful portion of the CCE-NC budget was provided historically by Albany through the New York County Law 224 program, which provides state matching funds, contingent on county funding. The effect of eliminating CCE-NC from the annual county budget was exacerbated by the loss of matching state funds.” Hunsberger continued, “Layoffs appear to be inevitable in 2013 without restoring the annual budget line item, and the ability to remain a going concern is now in doubt due to the lack of county funding, along with the resultant loss of New York State 224 matching funds.” The first phase of CCE-NC furlough dates, through the end of the third quarter, is stated below; residents can call East Meadow Farm at 516.565.5265 (ext. 7) for more information:
East Meadow Farm - June 11, 27; July 11, 23; August 8, 27; September 12, 26;
Jericho Office - June 14, 24; July 12, 26; August 9, 30; and September 13, 27.
CCE-NC DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES
While East Meadow Farm will now be shuttered two days per month, the low-cost diagnostic services CCE-NC offers to Nassau County residents will continue, albeit on the new limited basis. When landscape problems arise, residents and local “green industry” professionals are encouraged to bring tissue samples of flowers, vegetables, fruit, trees, shrubs, houseplants, soil, insects, fungus, etc., from their home or business landscapes to the East Meadow Farm at 832 Merrick Avenue for diagnosis and identification, along with expert treatment guidance.
Those who utilize the low cost CCE-NC diagnosis and identification services will receive an assessment of their sample(s) by a skilled and highly-trained Master Gardener, and if needed, may consult with a CCE-NC staff educator to identify a recommended treatment regimen. Under some circumstances, a sample may require additional analysis by Cornell University laboratory personnel for more detailed assessment by specialists such as botanists, pathologists, or entomologists.
Following a scientific determination, residents and “green industry” professionals receive instructions about how to best deal with landscape problems as safely as possible, and typically receive Home Ground Fact Sheets designed to help residents better understand the issue and resolve it. All CCE-NC recommendations are based on objective scientific research from Cornell and affiliated land-grant universities. During 2012, CCE-NC horticulture professionals fielded approximately 2,200 calls and/or site visits for plant and insect diagnostic services, soil pH testing, and diagnostic hotline calls, with another 700 participants appearing at public gardening presentations for additional education.
CCE-NC diagnostic services include: insect, pest and disease identification for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants; numerous types of soil testing; plant species identification (including weeds and invasive species); identification of nutrient deficiencies; and problems caused by various natural and non-natural environmental inputs. CCE-NC diagnostic services are free for members. The non-member fee is $7.00 per sample. Soil pH tests are $5.00 per sample. Various nutrient analysis soil-testing services are also available but fees vary based by test type (e.g., post-Sandy salinity tests). CCE-NC specialists also make on-site assessments with field visits (by appointment). Site visit fees for one acre or less are $275; with a $225 fee for each additional acre (or less).
CCE-NC is committed to building healthy lifestyles and healthy communities by conducting educational programs that connect Cornell University resources to community needs for all people in the county. CCE-NC is an educational subordinate governmental agency association that provides research-based information and educational programs designed to build strong and vibrant communities. CCE-NC has been educating and disseminating information since 1914, through funding and resources provided by Nassau County, New York State (through Cornell University), USDA, a variety of grant partnerships, and direct financial support from generous donors who support our public service mission.