Thursday, November 11, 2010

Community Services Provided by Westchester CCE Staff and Master Gardeners

From the CCE:

Westchester County provides 34% of our budget, but receives 100% of our programming.

Highlights - Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester County
2010 Budget Revenue breakdown summary

Funding Source -Dollar Amount- Percentage of Funding
County $1,187,82551%
State via Cornell* $616,779 27%
Federal $337,14815%
Other $174,4447%
TOTAL BUDGET$2,316,396100%

CCE Westchester did not receive $1.3 million in 2010; the County Executive only approved and released $1,187,825. That was a 10% cut which resulted in 4 layoffs.

* The above figures do not include $1,422,466 worth of services from Cornell faculty and staff, and do not include the value of volunteer hours: $1,788,696.

If their services had to be provided by others, the cost is estimated to be over $16 million.

In the last 5 years, CCE cut their staff from 36 employees to 18, but more than doubled their productivity. They are extremely efficient. Not one penny of the county funding ever goes toward fringe benefits (pensions, healthcare, etc.) at CCE.

  • We have 130 active Master Gardener Volunteers in Westchester County.
  • Master Gardeners have volunteered over 7000 hours so far in 2010. This is worth over $2,000,000.
  • CCE has trained nearly 200 teachers in school gardening.
  • Master Gardener Volunteers mentor 35 school gardens in Westchester County which makes school gardening more accessible to over 12,000 youth.
  • We responded to 1,636 requests for service (Hort Hotline, Diagnostics etc) last year.
  • Our nutrition department provided nutrition education to 721 adults representing 2382 family members in 2009. This service is bilingual.
  • Our incubation and embryology program (egg hatching) reaches over 11,000 youth.

Background info:

CCE has a $2.3 million dollar program, but it only costs Westchester government about $1.2 million a year. That comes to about $1.00 a year per resident.

CCE is a governmental agency, not a private non-profit. It must, by law, receive its core funding from county government appropriations. CCE was created by the NYS Legislature, not by Cornell University. It was created for the benefit of the respective counties and their residents and businesses. Cornell only administers the program. Cornell University funds do not directly support CCE. Cornell pays faculty and staff who provide in-kind services to county extension offices and the people we serve. Cornell University’s endowment is for Cornell students and cannot be spent on New York State’s cooperative extension system.

CCE provides training, technical expertise and economic development support to the “Billion Dollar Green Industry” in Westchester County. That includes the turf & landscape industry, the private and public golf course industry, the nurseries and greenhouses and the farms. CCE's education teaches them to use the most environmentally safe products and procedures. CCE also provide training, advice and assistance to municipalities in caring for their green spaces (parks, street trees, planting strips, etc.) and provide integrated pest management education so that people don’t use environmentally-unfriendly or dangerous methods of dealing with pests (insects, rodents, bedbugs, wild animals, etc.). CCE serves urban, suburban and rural parts of the county. This “green” industry employs tens of thousands of Westchester residents, so keeping these businesses viable in Westchester means keeping them employing a lot of local people and paying a lot of taxes.

CCE provides advice and guidance to homeowners about plant and pest problems. CCE's lab quickly analyzes and identifies problems brought to it by homeowners. CCE's 150 volunteer Master Gardeners provide thousands of hours of free assistance throughout the year all over the county. Without CCE, the Master Gardener program ceases to exist.

CCE's nutrition educators teach food-stamp eligible people how to stretch their food stamp dollars and make it to end of the month with nutritious and healthy foods. CCE teaches them how to buy, read labels, select, safely handle and store, and prepare food for their families. CCE reaches about 2,400 of Westchester’s poorest people each year with this program. CCE's programs are geared toward preventing youth obesity which leads to later life problems of hypertension, cardio-vascular disease and diabetes. Since this population lacks private health insurance, their healthcare becomes a taxpayer’s burden, so their work is designed to alleviate that tax dollar drain.

CCE's 4-H/Youth Development program teaches kids self-confidence, public speaking, self-discipline, good citizenship, and science. CCE provides the huge Incubation & Embryology program in the local schools that teaches 9,000 Westchester students each year about biology and the environment by having them incubate and hatch chick eggs in their classrooms. On their own, the schools could not afford to hire the expertise that CCE provides in doing these programs unless they increased their schools budgets and raised school taxes.

Call County Legislatos whom you know or who otherwise represent you to let them know how important CCE is to Westchester. Since no other entity in Westchester does what CCE does, if CCE disappears there won’t be anyone else to do this job. It just won’t get done.

You can also email your legislator:
Also copy Pete Harckham, who is the majority leader.

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