CCE Climate Change and Agriculture Intern: Helping Farmers Adapt to Climate Change in New York - Tompkins County

Worksite Location
in or adjacent to Tompkins County
Faculty Sponsor
Allison Chatrchyan, Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and David Wolfe, Department of Horticulture
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Michael Hoffmann, Curt Gooch, Jennifer Pronto, Art DeGaetano Shorna Allred, and Toby Ault
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Zywia Wojnar, CCE Dutchess County, with Stephanie Radin and Jennifer Fimbel
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to U.S. agriculture because of the sensitivity of agricultural productivity to weather and long-term climate changes, and the costs of impacts and adaptations to changing climate conditions. Many agricultural producers are already experiencing first-hand the impacts of climate change - including more extreme storms, longer and more serious periods of drought, and earlier bloom dates - and are making adaptive changes, such as planting different crops at different times, or harvesting later in the season. But farmers indicate the need for more research-based information and tools that are specific to their region and sector, so that they can adopt effective adaptation measures quickly to manage the effects of climate change, minimize costs, and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Researchers and staff affiliated with Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture and Cornell Climate Change Program Work Team (PWT) have been working collaboratively to develop new, research-based educational materials and decision-tools for key stakeholders such as farmers, and launched a new website to provide a centralized location for relevant information ( The CCE Climate Change Intern will allow faculty and staff affiliated with the ICCA, and CCE members of the PWT to make greater progress towards developing specific agriculture and climate change educational and training materials including video resources, case studies of climate adaptations, and other basic tools to help farmers adapt to climate change, and pilot the use of some of these materials with various CCE audiences through a developing climate change and agriculture network.

Roles and Responsibilities

In collaboration with the faculty mentors and CCE Supervisor, the key responsibilities of the CCE Climate Change and Agriculture intern will include:

- Helping develop social science survey tools or analyzing social science data regarding the impacts of climate change on farms and/or interviewing and videotaping farmers about their views;
- Helping create a database of key stakeholders for involvement in a nascent information network for climate change and agriculture in New York, that can be developed further over time; and listserve to communicate with the network;
- Drafting climate change and agriculture impacts and adaptations case studies for use by CCE, agencies and farmers (such as dairy heat stress from increased temperature, sudden frost in orchards, or flood preparedness on farms);
- Developing a curriculum toolkit that CCE educators can use for workshops, stakeholder meetings, or twilight meetings to educate farmers about climate change adaptation - materials will be posted on;
- Drafting research stories or other content for the online Climate Change Forum - including interviewing key Cornell faculty, staff or extension educators about their research, drafting stories, getting review from faculty, finalizing the story, and uploading to the Climate Change Website;
- Developing outreach materials to be used by the Institute of Climate Change and Agriculture and PWT to provide education about climate change and agriculture at regional workshops or educational events, where feasible, such as Empire Farm Days, the NYS Fair, or the Dutchess County Fair;
- Researching incentives that could increase participation in voluntary programs, such as Climate Smart Farmers or climate leaders programs and providing feedback to Cornell faculty;
- Attending regional or statewide ICCA or PWT meetings and conference calls with PWT members about the project;
- Other tasks as assigned by the Faculty lead or CCE Supervisor.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

The student should have the following qualifications and experience:

- Must be a full time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.

- Strong background in agricultural or natural resource sciences, and basic familiarity with climate change (preference will be given to students who are enrolled in the climate change minor or have completed climate change coursework);
- Background in excel spreadsheets, database management tools, and/or survey tools is a plus;
- Strong written and verbal communication skills;
- Ability to translate scientific material for a general audience, and engage stakeholders through surveys, interviews, videos or community outreach events;
- Basic familiarity with website content management systems, or willingness to learn;
- Basic familiarity with video equipment (using minicams or smart phones), cameras, and basic editing software, or willingness to learn.

Benefits and Skills

The student will gain more expertise and familiarity with climate change science and real world impacts to the agricultural sector in New York State. The CCE intern will make an important contribution to helping translate Cornell climate change research for farmers and the public, by developing climate change materials, including fact sheets, case studies or curriculum, developing content for the website, and short climate change stories and video clips that will help increase stakeholders knowledge and lead to change in behavior. The intern will help researchers better understand stakeholder motivations and incentives to participation in networks and voluntary leadership roles. The student will gain a basic familiarity with the practical use of video and editing equipment, and website content management systems.