Here at Miner Institute, we all love a good competition, especially if it is also raising money for charity, so in September we put together a team of athletic trash talkers to represent Miner Institute at the third annual ETS Corporate Kickball Challenge. The Miner Threat was one of 18 teams that played in the tournament on a warm, sunny Saturday at the US Oval. The tournament raised $1900 -- half of the funds went to the United Way of the Adirondack Region, the other half went to the winning team's charity of choice. WB Mason's team won the tournament and directed $950 to the FitzPatrick Cancer Center. The Miner Threat put up a good fight, had fun, and are already looking forward to the 2019 tourney!
The New York State Agricultural Society was organized in 1832 to “foster, promote and improve the New York State food and agricultural industry through education, leadership development and recognition programs.” With less than 2% of the United States population involved in agriculture, agricultural advocacy is important to help educate consumers about how their food is grown. In 2014, the society launched an ambassador program to help young people pursuing a career in agriculture to develop leadership skills and broaden their awareness of issues within the industry.
Miner Institute Research Technician Amber Bornt is an alumni of the Ambassador Scholars program at Cornell University and participated in a full-day program on Aug. 24 at the NY State Fair in Syracuse. The theme for the day was “agvocacy” and was supported by Bayer CropScience. “This opportunity allowed my peers and I to see just how diverse NY agriculture is,” said Amber. “It also showed us how the NYS Fair bridges the gap from farm to consumers allowing the public to get an insider perspective of how farms actually work. Where else can you see a cow give birth, and then enjoy a glass of NYS milk for just 25 cents?”
The day was set up with a number of different stations that Ambassadors visited, Amber said. They visited the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, which is one of the most well-attended exhibits at the fair; they visited the NY State Beef Council; the Future Farmers of America; and they watched an equine show. At each station, the ambassadors learned how that group was advocating for their sector of NY agriculture. The most consistent message from everyone, Amber said, was to keep your information consumer friendly. Essentially, make the message easy to understand for folks outside of agriculture and don’t use terms that are not commonly known outside of the industry.
Amber said that the experience was excellent and it energized her about advocating for agriculture.
Nine Ambassador Scholars attended the NYS Fair August 24, 2018 to polish their leadership and advocacy skills with the assistance of LEAD NY, NY Animal Agriculture Coalition, NY Beef Industry Council, NY FFA, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum, and equine organizations located at the NYS Fair Coliseum. The event was sponsored by the NYS Agricultural Society Foundation. From L to R: Christina Hall, Jacob Ernst, Amber Bornt, Emily Hiller, Sarah Peavey, Lucy Shephard, Sayvanna SFabian, Ashley Howlett, Megan Clancy.
Dairy Herdsperson Anna Pape says that Clinton County Fair week is always "a fun but exhausting week." One of her favorite parts, she says, is showing off the genetics of the herd. "Every year we seem to bring a better and better group of animals ... even if they don't win first place against other farms, we know that we've improved the herd over the last year and that is very satisfying!"
The picnic tables near the Miner cows in the dairy barn at the fair is a great place to catch up and socialize with some of the other farmers exhibiting at the fair. Miner Institute provides coffee and donuts for dairy exhibitors every morning of fair week.
Here is a summary of how our "girls" did:
Research Scientist Heather Dann's son, Jake Perkins showed a March calf with 4-H and she placed 8th out of 12 animals. It was his first time showing and he did a great job training his animal and taking care of her at the fair. Heather says that Jake nicknamed 3385 "Houdini" since she was good at untying the halter slip knot. Jake learned a lot and had lots of help from Miner staff. Bethann Caston and the calf feeders helped care for the calf while he was training her on the calf hill; Victoria Vendetta provided clipping and fitting advice; Steve Couture provided general support and transported the animals to and from the farm to the fair.
In 1918, as World War I was winding down, there was a national effort to support the American Red Cross. A successful weeklong drive in Chazy raised $1,410 in support of soldiers and their families. To celebrate this accomplishment, William and Alice Miner hosted a community event at Heart’s Delight Farm in May 1918. The 1918 event hosted at Heart’s Delight Farm inspired the recent Centennial Summer Fair co-hosted by The Alice T. Miner Museum and Miner Institute and held at Miner Institute in Chazy. The 2018 Summer Fair featured wagon rides provided by Country Dreams Farm; an equine demonstration by Miner Morgans; a dance demonstration by Dance Plattsburgh; a World War I exhibit with artifacts from the Clinton County Historical Association, the Lyon Mountain Mining and Railroad Museum and The Alice T. Miner Museum. Parker Family Maple Farm offered maple ice cream to attendees and popcorn provided by Ballard Acres Farm was available. Rick Laurin, a board member and volunteer at The Alice T Miner Museum and his wife, Priscilla, churned butter and offered it to visiters on bread or crackers. In keeping with the generous spirit that prompted the 1918 event, we accepted donations for the United Way of the Adirondack Region, raising just over $400.
Back Row L to R: Cassie Magdziarz, Summer Experience in Equine Management from West Texas A&M University; Katrina Klobucher, Summer Experience in Farm Management from University of Massachusetts Amherst; Laura Livingston, Summer Experience in Farm Management from Michigan State University; Lynn Olthof, Summer Experience in Farm Management from Michigan State University; Alexandra Banks, Summer Experience in Farm Management from the University of Maine; Maddie Bennett, Summer Experience in Equine Management from the University of Idaho; Catie Ott, Summer Experience in Equine Management from Pennsylvania State University. Front Row L to R: Emily Fread, Summer Experience in Agricultural Research from North Carolina State University; Anna Zhigareva, Summer Experience in Equine Management from the University of Edinburgh; Alyssa Pobocik, Summer Experience in Equine Management from SUNY Cobleskill; Jazmin Markey, Summer Experience in Agricultural Research from Delaware Valley University; Tori Daniels, Summer Experience in Agricultural Research from the University of Illinois; and Dominique D'Huyvetter, Summer Experience in Agricultural Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Harry Randy served as president of Miner Institute from 1988 until his unexpected death in 1991. Harry was passionate about dairy cows and working with dairy producers. To honor Harry’s memory and the mission of Miner Institute, we decided to use money from the Harry Randy Education Fund (established in the early 1990s after Harry’s death) to annually support an attendee from Dairy Day with a free trip to the western United States with our Advanced Dairy Management students.
“Each year, the trip out west offers a unique educational opportunity for our dairy management students. Students enjoy having producers join them on the trip and it benefits both the producer and the students in a variety of ways,” said Dairy Outreach Coordinator Wanda Emerich.
Michael Duncan owns and operates a 50-cow dairy farm in Ormstown, Quebec. He is in the process of transferring the farm to his son, who will be the fourth generation in his family to farm there. Michael has been an attendee at Miner Institute’s Dairy Day event for decades, and it’s where Michael met Harry in the 1980s. Michael was the inaugural winner of the Harry Randy Memorial Award; Michael and his daughter Melissa accompanied Wanda, Dairy Farm Manager Steve Couture and our five Advanced Dairy Management students on a trip to California in February. The group visited several farms in the Central Valley, toured San Francisco, and attended the World Ag Expo. Michael called it “the trip of a lifetime” and also noted that it was his first time on an airplane in 32 years!
Visiting California has been on Michael's bucket list, he said, adding that the water situation there was surprising. “I always knew CA was dry, but nothing prepared me for the extent to which the Central Valley is essentially a desert with irrigation. There are almost no trees. We can stay here in the Northeast, thank you very much. I would much rather deal with too much rain than in-house fighting over irrigation water,” Michael said. He was excited to visit an almond orchard and see a dairy larger than any other he’d visited previously. Michael also enjoyed discussing irrigation and the associated politics with a farm owner.
“This trip in honor of Harry was very special to me having known him so well,” Michael said. “My last hope is that Harry is smiling down on us all. He would have been standing first in line for the bus beside me!”
The winner for the 2019 trip will be chosen at Dairy Day in December 2018.
The Adirondack Coast was deliciously-well represented at the annual New York Farm Bureau Taste NY reception in Albany on March 5. Our region's spread included hard cider, wine, beer, cheese, maple syrup, maple candy, and cider doughnuts. Rachel Dutil helped to represent Miner Institute and the region, urging folks to visit the Adirondack Coast, while passing out food samples and Miner Institute stress relief -- horse and cow squeezies. The Taste NY event featured about 200 farmers from around the state showcasing their products and interacting with state lawmakers and their staff. The event precedes the Farm Bureau Lobby Day, which took place on March 6.
The packed house at our recent Comedy for a Cause event reinforced the notion that the United Way of the Adirondack Region is a trusted resource for countless people in our community. More than 140 people turned out on Feb. 9 to laugh along with the incredibly funny and talented Completely Stranded comedy group and helped us to raise nearly $900, which all went to the United Way of the Adirondack Region. That $900 combined with employee payroll deductions and money raised at an auction at the Miner employee Christmas party brought the Miner Institute 2018 contribution to $4,787. We are proud of that contribution and are so grateful for the wonderful work that the United Way does for the North Country.
"We are so grateful for the generous support that the Miner Institute provides to our organization. The employees exemplify the true spirit of kindness, generosity and compassion. It is a privilege to be a vehicle of their community spirit and it is a relationship that we value greatly on many different levels."
-- John Bernardi, CEO, United Way of the Adirondack Region
Learn more about the United Way of the Adirondack Region
Another year is coming to a close and it has been a busy one!! Reflecting back on the year, we thought we’d share some of our favorite moments! We laughed with local comedy group Completely Stranded back in January, and most importantly, we raised $1100 for the United Way of the Adirondack Region. We will be bringing them back for a show on February 9.
Dr. Dave Barbano hosted an incredible cheese tasting for staff in early 2017 in our cafeteria annex. He had a wide variety of cheeses from around the world and thorough explanations of each. It was a real treat!
In 2017, we visited Peru Central School four times as part of their Lunchtime Grill series for students to learn about different careers. Each time we represented a different career. We talked about animal care with yearlong dairy and equine interns Victoria Vendetta and Samantha Dobbins; agricultural research with Ph.D. student Mac Campbell and Research Technician Laura Klaiber; agricultural librarian with Librarian Amy Bedard; public relations and marketing with PR Coordinator Rachel Dutil.
After realizing that many of our Miner Morgans were deficient in vitamin E, we began a research study to look at the best delivery method of vitamin E to horses. The research attracted donations to help sponsor the research from individuals and organizations such as the Champlain Valley Morgan Horse Association.
Clinton County Dairy Princess Katarina Emerich – daughter of Miner Institute’s Dairy Outreach Coordinator Wanda Emerich – attended several events at Miner Institute as an ambassador for the local dairy industry. She handed out cheese, helped kids make crafts, and helped pick winners for door prizes at our annual Dairy Day seminar.
We toured multiple school groups and celebrated 30 years of the Summer Experience in Equine Management program with an early-August reunion. Later in the fall, we had a mini-reunion when students from 2016 returned for a long weekend.
For the second year in a row as part of the annual Battle of Plattsburgh weekend events, we participated in the Rotary Club’s bed race in downtown Plattsburgh. We made it through several rounds and had a great time!
At the 2017 Applied Environmental Science Program graduation ceremony in December, we were pleased that Cheryl Donah could join us and accept her honorary certificate. Cheryl was the longtime secretary in the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh who retired at the end of 2017.
One of Miner Institute’s most valuable “products” is our alumni. They move on from Miner Institute to (hopefully) successful careers in agriculture-related fields. They help to broaden Miner Institute’s network and, in some cases, become collaborators for our research and education programs. Several of our Summer Experience in Equine Management alumni have ultimately become Miner Morgan owners! One of the most notable career choices for alumni is Miner Institute employee. Of our roughly 50 full-time employees, 11 are alumni from one of our education programs. It is a strong testament to the culture and atmosphere of Miner as a workplace and also of the caliber of our education programs and thus, the students that we attract.
“I recall the day I got a call from Katie(Ballard), who was looking for someone to fill a technician position. From the moment I heard the message, I had already decided I would take the job. I was ready and eager to come back to Miner in any fashion. When I moved all of my stuff from Pennsylvania, I never would have dreamed that I would still be here today… looking back it was not a case of moving on to the next stage of my life, it was actually more like coming home,” said Heather Gauthier, a research technician and Summer Experience in Equine Management alumnus. Heather has been employed at Miner Institute since 2000.
Katie Ballard has been the director of Miner Institute’s research program since the program started in 1992. She fondly remembers being crowned the first-ever “Miner Moron” as a Summer Experience in Farm Management student in 1983 for putting a tractor in the ditch. From that point on, someone was given the award weekly on Fridays at lunch. Most notably, she recalls that Ev Thomas (then agronomist at Miner Institute) earned a Miner Moron Award for his driving skills on the way to Empire Farm Days that summer. Katie participated in the graduate program following her summer as a student and was hired full time in 1987.
Equine Manager Karen Lassell says that she feels “blessed to enjoy my job as much as I do – the horses, the students and fellow employees.” Karen participated in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program in 1989 and then came back as the year-long intern in 1991 and has been employed at Miner ever since.
“I’ve always felt that whether you are a student or employee, Miner Institute provides many opportunities…you just have to have initiative and be willing to work hard to make the most of your time here,” Katie said. “It’s helpful to take a walk through the Heritage Exhibit every once in a while to become re-inspired by Mr. Miner’s vision for Hearts Delight Farm. I think we are doing a pretty good job and following his planned purpose of the farm.”
Alumni turned employees:
Wanda Emerich: Dairy Outreach Coordinator and alum of the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Katie Ballard: Director of Research and alum of the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Karen Lassell: Equine Manager and alum of the Summer Experience in Equine Management program.
Heather Gauthier: Research Technician and alum of the Summer Experience in Equine Management program.
Andrew Whitney: Research Technician and alum of the Advanced Dairy Management program.
Jeff Darrah: Agricultural Lab Manager and alum of the cell biology program.
Laura Klaiber: Research Technician and alum of the Applied Environmental Science program and the graduate program.
Lisa Klaiber: Research Technician and alum of the Applied Environmental Science program.
Anna Pape: Dairy Herdsperson and alum of the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Charlie Hacker: Research Technician and alum of the Applied Environmental Science Program.
Eric Young: Soil Scientist/Agronomist and alum of the Applied Environmental Science Program.