Building Confidence and Relationships with New York Farmers
Lorie Ames earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from SUNY Geneseo, along with three state certifications for education. When she struggled to find a stable teaching position after graduation, an opportunity came for her to work for Western New York Crop Management Association, or WNYCMA, as a summer scout. It was there that she met Dave DeGoyler, who became her boss and mentor. At the end of the season, she accepted a full-time position as a field technician, and has since been promoted to junior crop consultant, working towards becoming a crop consultant.
In the spring of 2018, Dave recommended that Lorie apply for the “Practical New York Soil Health Specialist Training,” an American Farmland Trust, Cornell Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health, and Northeast Agriculture Research and Education program. She was excited for the opportunity, but a little skeptical given her existing knowledge of field crops and soil health.
Staying true to her background in education, Lorie came to the program willing to learn something new. “I was humbled by my experience,” Lorie says. “I realized that I knew bits and pieces, but I really didn’t know the meat of it, or even the origin, and it was neat to see that progress before my eyes.” When Lorie became a junior crop consultant, her role transformed from working solely in the field to building relationships with the farmers who steward those fields and helping them to make decisions for their farms. In a way, she’s come full circle in her quest to teach biology.
Working directly with farmers is Lorie’s favorite part of her job, but also one that was less familiar to her than dealing directly with plants and soil. “The most valuable thing I gained from the program is confidence,” Lorie says. “Prior to this, if I was questioned by a grower I’d have been a little intimidated. Now I feel really well equipped to give advice and lead them in the right direction.”
Learn more about Lorie Ames and the New York Practical Soil Health Specialists Program.
This program is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under sub-award number ENE18-153-32231, and with support from the members of American Farmland Trust.