Saratoga County dairy farmers will have an unprecedented opportunity to expand their education in the field of agriculture.
“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County is pleased to introduce the Dorothy Eva King Dairy Development Fund,” said Kirk Schoen, Farm Business Management, Dairy & Field Crops Educator with Saratoga County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension. “The Scholarship is open for all types of educational programs.”
Schoen is a member of the Development Fund committee and is also the contact person for the fund.
“The county has a strong and vibrant dairy industry with 25 farms and 8,300 cows,” explained Schoen. “Many of these farms have been an integral part of the community for generations. Local farms are growing with larger herds, a larger land base and improvements in farm management techniques. There are also niche operations; smaller dairy operations with specialized markets. Niche dairy, milk and corporate markets have become increasingly unpredictable and dairy farmers need every advantage to capitalize on their business. Informed management decisions can have a lasting impact on profitability. The outlook for the industry will depend on the next generation’s informed and educated workforce.”
Edgar (Ed) King, establisher of King’s Ransom Dairy in Saratoga County, was appointed to oversee the fund. He described some background of how the fund came about.
“Years ago, a retired dairy farmer and fruit grower of mostly apples, Gordon King, was a strong supporter of the work of Cooperative Extension, which, in those days, carried the name of Farm Bureau,” King said. “Years ago, as the Farm Bureau became more active in the public policy arena, it found itself incompatible with the Cooperative Extension which functioned as a quasi-government agency. Gordon King proudly solicited memberships for both organizations.”
Ed says as a young farmer, he met Gordon King when he became active in the Farm Bureau. “While not related, we became friends as we worked shoulder to shoulder in the organization.”
Gordon was survived by his only child, an unmarried daughter, Dorothy Eva King. Dorothy died in late 2014 designating a sum to the Saratoga County Cooperative Extension to create a fund “to be used for educational scholarships for farmers who have been active dairy farmers for at least the past five years and are at least 25 years old.”
“Dorothy’s will went on to direct that the project be under my supervision,” Ed remarked. “Obviously, I’m humbled by Dorothy’s trust.”
Saratoga County Cooperative Extension has developed a plan for review by several who are active in and respected by the Saratoga County dairy farming industry.
Schoen says that thanks to the Dorothy Eva King Development Fund, the dairy community has an opportunity to expand their knowledge of dairy production. “The Dorothy Eva King Dairy Development Fund has been created to support the dairy industry in Saratoga County through sponsorships to educational opportunities in dairy farming.”
All sectors of the industry will be considered.
“Topics may include technological advances in the industry, animal health, farm business, management, marketing, feed management, forages & crops, Cornell, and Cornell Cooperative Extension programs, college courses, farm tours, regional & national meetings, and other topics. Areas of the dairy industry such as heifer rearing, dairy crop production, along with goat and sheep dairies will also be considered.”
Funding will be administered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County working with a committee of local industry, government, and Cornell Cooperative Extension leaders.
At this time the committee, under the supervision of Ed King, includes Dr. Roger Ellis, Field Veterinarian with New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program; Dustin Lewis, District Manager Saratoga County Soil & Water Conservation District; CCE CNY Dairy Specialist Dave Balbian; Kirk Schoen, Farm Business Management, Dairy & Field Crops Educator; Saratoga County Farm Bureau President Jamie Pettis and Town of Providence Town Supervisor, John Collyer.
Schoen reports that the committee will determine participant eligibility and make decisions on acceptable educational opportunities. “People working in the county can live in others, like Washington or Rensselaer,” said Schoen.
There is no maximum or minimum funding. Although activities may require a 10–20 percent participant investment, special consideration and amounts will be determined on a case-by-case basis. All accepted applicants will only require a write-up to apply for future opportunities.
“I think this is a great opportunity for people involved in the dairy industry in Saratoga County,” commented committee member Dave Balbian. “All of us are always learning and we need to, so that we can keep up with the latest research and the ever changing technology. This fund will reduce the cost involved with keeping up.”
For more information and applications for the Dorothy Eva King Dairy Development Fund, contact Kirk Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 518-885-8995.