CCE Climate Smart Farming Intern: Research and Outreach to Help Rural Farmers (including in the Plain community) Respond to Climate Change in New York State

Worksite Location
CCE Madison County (Morrisville, NY)
Project Dates
Summer 2018
Faculty Sponsor
Allison Chatrchyan
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Art DeGaetano, David Lane, Mike Hoffmann, Danielle Eiseman
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Sarah Ficken, Ave Bauder, Darcy Telenko, Kitty O'Neil
Stipend Amount
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

NY farmers are experiencing first-hand the impacts of increasing climate variability and change – including more extreme precipitation, longer and more serious periods of drought, and changes in seasons – and are facing increased risks and financial impacts to their operations. Farmers indicate they need more research-based information and tools that are specific to their region and production systems so that they can adopt adaptation practices. Researchers with the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and Climate Smart Farming Extension Team have been working collaboratively to develop resources, online decision-support tools, and training for farmers and other stakeholders in New York, including the website.  One challenge is ensuring that all farmers have access to this critical information - including farmers from the important and growing Plain farming communities in central NY (including Amish and Mennonites). The CSF Internship will contribute to a better understanding of the climate impacts and needs of Plain farming communities, and help develop outreach and information transfer for farmers in Madison and Seneca County. The intern will create a template for a monthly mailing that will disperse the information from the digital tools in a hardcopy format. The intern will also assist with farm visits to identify farmers’ needs, beta test the hardcopy templates, and help with teaching and troubleshooting the technology. The intern will also assist with the organization and publicity of two twilight talks.

Roles and Responsibilities

In collaboration with the faculty and county mentors and regional Climate Smart Farming (CSF) extension team specialists, the key responsibilities of the CICSS intern will include: - Help collect, track and analyze data related to climate impacts and needs of Plain farmers in central NY through farm visits, interviews, focus group meetings or trainings, as needed - Assist in developing new information methods or training materials to support new CSF decision support tools for farmers in rural communities (including hardcopy curriculum or phone messages) - Help plan and implement climate smart farming outreach at extension events such as the  4-H Career Explorations event, 4-H fairs, and two twilight meetings, and Empire Farm Days - Prepare CSF articles for the CICSS newsletter, and for Facebook, website or Twitter posts - Attend team meetings, regional or statewide meetings, and conference calls with CSF team members - Other tasks as assigned by the Faculty lead or CCE Supervisors

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

The student should have the following qualifications and experience: - Background in climate change science, policy, agricultural or natural resource sciences (preference will be given to students who have completed climate change coursework); - Strong written and verbal communication skills and organizational skills; - Ability to translate scientific material for a general audience, and engage stakeholders through focus groups, interviews, and community outreach events; - Basic familiarity with communication through websites and social media, or willingness to learn; and - Background in excel spreadsheets, database management tools, and/or survey tools is a plus 

Benefits and Skills

The student will become familiar with the challenges that farmers face due to climate change and understand how to use the Climate Smart Farming Tools while building a broad set of practical, résumé-building skills in research, writing, event planning, communication, and outreach. Specifically, the student will develop a proficiency with social science research methods and learn to skillfully communicate about climate change and its impacts to a variety of local, farming, and community audiences.