Each year, more than 3,200 agricultural fairs are held around the country. The Clinton County Fair has been offering summer fun and a glimpse of agriculture for local residents for more than seven decades. The 71st annual Clinton County Fair recently wrapped up and Miner Institute was well represented.
In the open show dairy barn, Miner Institute had four milking cows and five young animals. We also had two young heifers in the 4H barn that were shown by Alexis Seymour. Students train their animals and break them in to a halter; then clip, wash and care for their animals at the fair.
Eight Miner Morgans made their way to the Morrisonville fairgrounds. They showed in the Morgan In-Hand class and a yearling and two-year-old halter class. They were on the fairgrounds for four days for visitors to see and learn about the Morgan breed. An extra stall was set up with a great display of the equine program at Miner Institute and even included a photo booth! The students did a great job keeping the space clean and the horses cool and comfortable.
Additionally, a handful of Miner Institute employees take vacation time during fair week so that they can represent their own family farms and/or cheer on their children who show at the fair. There also is a "friendly" annual burger competition. This year entries included burgers with meat from the Emerichs, Gauthiers, Castines, and pork from the Dann/Perkins family. The judges were three Clinton County sheriff deputies.
Dorado Jerseys and Angus – The Emerich family
Wanda Emerich has been showing at the fair since 1983. She brought five Jersey cows from her family’s Dorado Jerseys and Angus farm to the Clinton County Fair and they competed in the Open Dairy Show. The Emerich’s animals are located adjacent to Miner Institute’s animals. Back on the farm in Mooers, Wanda and her husband, Jerry and daughter, Katarina, have Black Angus, an assortment of chickens, cats, African geese, and a dog. Wanda said that she really enjoys interacting with the numerous families who have also been showing at the fair over the years. “We have watched each other’s kids grow up and tell stories about show cows and heifers over time. People work together to prepare the animals for the show, then compete together in the ring and celebrate with each other after the show has ended.”
Mineral Spring Farm – The Gauthier family
Heather Gauthier’s farm in Mooers has Black Angus, White Park and crossbred beef cattle, and Alpine, Nubian and crossbred dairy goats. They brought one summer yearling Angus heifer; two 3-yr lactating does; one 2-yr lactating doe; and three four-month-old doe kids to the fair this year. Heather’s children, Eli and Aubrey also leased two 10-week-old meat goat kids from another 4H leader. Eli and Aubrey Gauthier are members of the 4H Milk Dipper club. Eli showed in the 4H dairy goat show, the 4H/Open meat goat show, the 4H/Open beef show, and assisted Ava Castine in the FFA beef show. Aubrey showed in 4H dairy goat show, 4H/Open meat goat show, 4H/Open beef show, and assisted Lincoln Perkins in the 4H pig show, and assisted another club member in the open dairy show. Mineral Spring Farm’s two-year-old lactating doe was awarded best in breed in the dairy goat show. “The fair was mostly a sweaty whirlwind, but we are part of a great group of kids and parents in the club that we are with as well as the whole crew in the 4H barn,” Heather said. “We became sort of a pit crew for almost every livestock show division… prep the animal, dress the kids, shine them all up and go! I think overall we all had a great time and the smiles on the kids’ faces tell it all! All the stress and prep and planning is worth it when now, two weeks later the kids are complaining wishing it was still fair week and making plans for what to show next year!”
Castiron Acres – The Castine family
Shaun Castine took a week of vacation from milking cows in Miner Institute’s barn to show his beef cows at the fair. Eleven of Castiron Acres purebred Hereford animals were shown as part of the 4H and FFA shows. Shaun prefers to let his daughter, Ava, 11, do the showing, but says if he has to, he’ll get in the show ring too. Ava really enjoys it, and has “really been working hard,” Shaun said. Shaun’s wife, Emily, is the 4H leader for the Milk Dippers club. Ava earned master showman for the 4H show and reserve master showman for the FFA show, Shaun said. One of their heifers earned reserve champion status and a yearling earned a champion status. Shaun said that his family looks forward to the fair every year and plan to also show at the Malone fair and at a show in Westport. He hopes to eventually take some Castiron Acres animals to the New York State Fair in Syracuse.
Jem Farm, Tangled Reins 4H Club – Dan and Georgia Belrose
Dan Belrose’s daughter, Georgia, has been showing at the Clinton County Fair for four years as part of the Tangled Reins 4H Club, showing horses from Larry and Donna Sorrell’s Jem Farm in Champlain. Dan says that Georgia absolutely loves it. Dan’s role during fair week, in addition to cheering on Georgia, is to wipe down saddles and equipment, muck stalls, spray the horses with fly spray, and act as a personal assistant to Georgia, making sure that she has everything she needs and gets where she needs to be at the right time. “It makes for a long week,” Dan said. “But the kids love it.” Georgia shows a horse and a pony this year and participated in the 4H show on Wednesday and Thursday and then in the open show on Friday and Saturday. She will be representing Clinton County in the 4H show at the NY State Fair in Syracuse for the third year in 2019.
Brightside Farm – Heather Dann and Lincoln Perkins
Heather Dann and her son, Lincoln Perkins, brought three pigs to the fair – Mr. Squealer, Susan, and Apey. They seemed to be the only pigs at this year’s fair. Lincoln showed Susan, who won as champion market hog. Aubrey Gauthier showed Mr. Squealer. The pigs all enjoyed the attention given to them at the fair and liked being pet by visitors. Susan, Mr. Squealer, and Apey entertained fair visitors by playing with a blue Jolly ball and a red Kong Frisbee. Heather said she was surprised by how much attention her pigs got. People enjoyed watching and interacting with the pigs, even stopping to take selfies and videos with the pigs. In addition, Lincoln showed a meat goat kid leased from Valerie Bertholf in West Chazy; and a dairy goat kid leased from Heather Gauthier. Heather said that Lincoln enjoyed showing and cuddling with the goats.
An expansion of the dairy barn to better accommodate our research program is underway! The research side of the barn will be more than doubled as an additional 40,000 square feet will be added to the south side of the barn. The addition is 291 feet long. The job has been awarded to Fuller Excavating, who will hopefully begin construction in August.
Site prep has been ongoing for several months, beginning with tree removal in early spring. Nearly 8000 cubic yards of gravel was pulled from the hill across from the Miner powerhouse on Ridge Road and used for base material at the construction site. It is estimated that this saved more than $30,000 since we did not need to purchase and haul from another quarry.
The 2019 group of summer experience students have arrived and settled into a rhythm here at Miner. They just wrapped up three days of Farm Days for Fifth Graders where they helped to teach several hundred regional fifth graders and lots of teachers and chaperones about agriculture. It is a memorable, character-building experience for our interns and is undoubtedly memorable and educational for all the fifth graders!
Joining us for the 2019 summer semester are: Emily Hiller in the farm management program. Emily is from Apalachin, NY and is a student at SUNY Cobleskill. Jessica Carnal is in the ag research program. Jessica is from Lansdale, PA and is a student at Delaware Valley University. Danielle Stephens is in the equine management program. Danielle is from Huntsville, AL and is a student at Auburn University. Isabel Wohlstadter is in the equine management program. Isabel is from Macomb, IL and is a student at Truman State University. Alex Benoit is in the ag research program. She is from Berkshire, VT and is a student at Cornell University. Aimee Ding is in the farm management program. Aimee is from Woodmere, NY and is a student at Stonybrook University. Emily Davie is in the equine management program. Emily is from Bellingham, WA and is a student at Washington State University. Angelica Torres Rodrigues is in the equine management program. Angelica is from Orocovis, Puerto Rico and is a student at Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.Kayla Johnston is in the ag research program. Kayla is from Point Pleasant, NJ and is a student at the University of Connecticut. Sarah Baldwin is in the ag research program. Sarah is from Cobleskill, NY and attends SUNY Cobleskill.
The 7th Annual Strides for James event kicked off at Miner Institute on May 11, 2019. This year marked the sixth year the event was hosted at the Institute and we had around 200 total runners, along with several dozen volunteers to carry out the event.
Strides for James is a 5K/10K race and 1 mile children's fun run/walk that is held annually in honor of James Dean Wilson, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2012. All profits from the event support the James Wilson memorial scholarship at Clinton Community College.
At this year's event, five scholarships were handed out to local students who either are already attending or who plan to attend Clinton Community College. Each of the recipients stood with Clinton Community College Vice President for Institutional Advancement Steve Frederick in front of the newly donated/completed mobile classroom of the college's Institute for Advanced Manufacturing. James Wilson truly would have been wowed as he was a student in the college's architectural drafting program.
The interaction with the community and the ability to help carry out this great event for the past six years truly is a privilege and an honor for Miner Institute. This event absolutely would not be possible without the support of staff, management team and the board of trustees. Extra kudos goes to the numerous staff who volunteered to help in some way and to those who participated in the race. It was a great day and we look forward to the 8th Annual Strides for James in 2020!
April 13, 2019 marked the annual Day of Caring -- a day of community service organized and championed by the United Way of the Adirondack Region. This year, 714 volunteers worked on 61 projects across Clinton, Franklin, and Essex Counties.
Miner Institute teamed up with The Alice T. Miner Museum to coordinate, along with United Way, a group of volunteers including 8 folks from Johns Manville in Plattsburgh to clean up the Riverview Cemetery in Chazy. Volunteers enjoyed temperatures in the 60s, sunny skies, and delicious raspberry filled cookies, courtesy of the Miner Institute cafeteria!
Land for Riverview Cemetery was donated in 1811 by Dr. Nathan Carver. The older section of the cemetery includes stones that date back nearly 200 years. In 1926, William Miner built a chapel and then a mausoleum in 1927. The mausoleum is the final resting place for William and Alice Miner, their infant son William Jr., and Alice's three sisters. The Miner Foundation owns and maintains the chapel and mausoleum.
When Alexandra Banks arrived at Miner Institute in May 2018 to participate in the Summer Experience in Farm Management program, she planned to ultimately go to vet school. Now, though, she is a few months into her year-long dairy internship and says she has realized how much she likes working with calves. “I’ve found that I really enjoy working with calves, so much so that it’s caused me to change my mind about what I want to do after leaving here,” Alexandra said. “I was originally thinking I’d like to go to vet school, but after being here and working with cows on a daily basis, I think I want to stay working on a farm, specifically with calves/heifers and potentially become a calf manager or heifer herdsman.”
Alexandra studied animal science at the University of Maine and graduated just before arriving at Miner for the Summer Experience program. She is the 2019 Stephen S. Flanagan, Frances B. Flanagan, and Stephen F. Flanagan Scholarship recipient at Miner Institute. The scholarship fund was established in 2016 after a $1.3 million donation to Miner Institute from the late Stephen Flanagan of Plattsburgh. The scholarship was named after Mr. Flanagan and his parents. The scholarship funds up to two students annually who are pursuing careers in dairy science.
Alexandra said that she really enjoys being at Miner and has “learned a lot and is enjoying the work and the people here.” She said that over the past few months, she has “decided my new dream job is to work with calves.”
For the third year in a row, we packed the auditorium of the Joseph C. Burke Education and Research Center with around 140 people and local comedy group Completely Stranded had the crowd approaching tears with their laughs. Most importantly, though, we raised $1,028 for the United Way of the Adirondack Region. This event has truly become one of our favorite events of the year, bringing the community out to enjoy comedy and support the dozens of great agencies that the United Way partners with. Combined with the $3,116 in employee contributions and money raised at the auction held at our Christmas party, Miner Institute's total 2019 contribution is $4,144. We are also planning to take part in this year's United Way Day of Caring on April 13 with some cleanup at the Riverside Cemetery in Chazy in a collaboration with The Alice T. Miner Museum.
In collaboration with The Alice T. Miner Museum, Miner Institute held a Beat the Boredom program during the February break last week for school-age kids. We had more than 20 kids who came and had a great time!! We had crafts, Jenga, we made 30 minute mozzarella, built snowmen and had a pretty impressive snowball fight. It is fair to say that this event was a great success and our collective wheels are already turning for how to "beat the boredom" in 2020!
In September 2018, following the August 3 death of Dr. Joseph Burke who had served as chair of Miner Institute’s Board of Trustees for 30 years, Rod Giltz was appointed chair; and Dr. Fred Woodward vice-chair. The vice chair position was one that hadn’t been filled in decades.
“I grew up not far from the Institute and marveled at its agricultural presence. At one time, Miner Institute housed a host of animals that made for special trips,” Woodward said. He later became President of Morrisville College, one of the SUNY agriculture and technology schools, with a focus on dairy and equine. Woodward recalled that each year the horses from Morrisville that would compete at the county fair would stay at Miner Institute, which helped to establish and build a relationship between the two institutions. Woodward was appointed a member of the board in 1990 and became a trustee in 2010.
Giltz joined the board as a member in 1984, and became a trustee in 1990. Giltz is past president and current chairman and chief financial officer of Northern Insuring Agency, Inc. As chair of Miner Institute’s board of trustees, Giltz said he is looking forward to bringing the board into the 21st Century and working to get the board more engaged. “We want to be involved and not just hear reports,” he said. There is such a wealth of knowledge and talent on the board that could be supportive and helpful to Miner Institute management if it is tapped, Giltz said.
“Miner Institute plays a significant role in local agriculture sharing research and demonstrating agricultural initiatives local farmers can utilize to enhance their operations,” Woodward said. Ten years ago Miner Institute had no presence in the public, Giltz said. “Our outreach has come a long way. Miner Institute has become a citizen of the community. I think that’s particularly healthy, especially given the presence of agriculture in the North Country.” Giltz said.
In December, the board appointed Chazy dairy farmer Tony Lapierre as a trustee. LaPierre has been associated with Miner Institute as an advocate since 2017. He is active in 4H and Cornell Cooperative Extension and currently serves as the District 7 representative on the NY Farm Bureau Board. Additionally, four new advocates were appointed by the board. Kristy Kennedy, Vice President of Marketing and The Director of Tourism for the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau; John Fairchild, Math teacher at Westport Central Rural School and former Superintendent of Chazy Central Rural School with 34 years of experience in education; Matthew Bull, Nutrition Consultant with Holtz Nelson Dairy Consultants; and Mark McCullough, Environmental, Health and Safety Engineer currently overseeing the decontamination and redevelopment of the former Pfizer site in Rouses Point, NY. The board and the Institute will undoubtedly be served well by their varied expertise.