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Adventures in the North Country: Trying to Keep Everything Straight

Greetings from the North Country! It’s been a hectic few weeks. It’s almost time for the Clinton County Fair, which means the entire office is buzzing with excitement. From making to posters and registering 4-H kids to making changes to the actual grounds, there are so many things to do. I have volunteered to judge both 4-H projects as well as the Swine show. This will be an interesting change of pace, considering I have participated in swine shows myself for the past seven years but have never judged one before.

The Willsboro Research Farm hosted a Farm Tour on Tuesday to show what they do. Having visited and met with the staff of the farm, I already knew how hard they all worked, but this tour was still an eye-opener for me. They conduct multiple wheat and grass trials, as well as grape, corn, tomato and even more than I could name.

Overhead shot of different grasses at the Willsboro Research Farm

They also hosted a session with a local baker who discussed why he valued using local products. As a baker, he told us how it is the most important thing to create a quality product as opposed to creating an optimally efficient set-up. Overall, it was incredible to see the connections made through this research farm.

For the duration of the leek moth project, I have been working under the guidance of Masa Seto, a researcher working at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. The experiment breaks down into seven sites with pheromone trappers and data loggers which record the daily temperature and light intensity. These are set up near plots of onions, which were planted to specifically lure in the pest. Our preliminary findings show that the leek moth seems to be moving south, as it was confirmed in Willsboro, NY for the first time this year. We spent a day together travelling to each site and meeting with the farmers. We even experienced a stroke of luck – one home gardener knew of a neighbor who had complained of problems with her onions. We ended up visiting her and confirming that she also had the pest.

Our office also organized a field meeting with Abby Seamen, the New York State IPM Coordinator. Seven local farmers met up at the Juniper Hill farm to get advice straight from an expert. Concerns were brought up about leaf hoppers, cucurbit pests and corn pests. It was really great to see farmers put competition aside and simply share their ideas with one another. Considering that these farmers are competing with each other in the marketplace, it was reassuring to see a collaboration to achieve the greatest possible yield. Abby also left behind handouts of color photos of pests in case the farmers had any questions in the future.

Scouting for Leek Moth with Masa

For me, these past few weeks have given the fairest representations of what it means to work in extension. As the intern, I realize that I bounce back and forth between departments, but this enabled me to see just how much is going on in this office at any given moment. Our Nutrition Educators share their recipe ideas with me as they prepare for a program to encourage students to live healthier lifestyles. Our 4-H agent tells me about the progress of planning a county fair. Our horticultural agent shows me downy mildew for the first time. The collaborating researcher tells me about how he got into research and what role extension plays in connecting the work in the lab to the farmer in the field. Though this internship is definitely hard work, it sure isn’t boring.

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