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Nassau's Cornell Cooperative Extension Hires New Executive Director

Laura K. Hunsberger will take over at the helm of the company that owns and operates East Meadow Farms.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County has selected Laura K. Hunsberger to lead the Nassau County Cooperative Extension as its next Executive Director.  

Hunsberger joined Cornell in 2010 as a plant pathology research support specialist, following almost a decade of extension leadership on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore, an area well known for grain and poultry production.  As a member of the Long Island Horticultural Research Center (LIHREC) the research team, Hunsberger’s focus was identification of plant pathogen threats in edible crops, primarily vegetable and herb varieties, such as tomato late blight and downy mildew on sweet basil. 

"The research we performed at LIHREC is helpful for Nassau County gardeners and consumers, but perhaps just as important are the many relationships I cultivated in Suffolk County during my time on the island’s East End," Hunsberger said. "In cooperation with a number of key organizations, I hope to lead a more concentrated effort of encouraging Long Islanders to include more healthy food, produced right here on the island, as a regular part of their diets.”

Outgoing Interim Executive Director Deborah Colfer acknowledged recently that Nassau County CCE has entered a “new period of growth,” and Hunsberger announced initial plans to expand CCE events and programming broadly, as well as enhance volunteerism opportunities through planned partnerships with local schools. 

“East Meadow Farm will serve as a wonderful nexus for many of the activities and opportunities Nassau CCE offers, including a new farmer’s market, community gardening, cooking demonstrations, and a wide variety of seasonal family fun events to be hosted throughout the year.”

Nassau CCE Board of Directors President, Marc Leno, described Hunsberger’s mandate from the board as “quite simple and clear: increase the viability of CCE of Nassau County through marked improved visibility, coupled with important fundraising efforts through legislative representations, grant applications and development of independent funding streams.” 

"We will dedicate ourselves to demonstrating the incredible value of what Nassau CCE does for our community every day, and hope those who are among the more fortunate of us will recognize that value and contribute privately to the betterment of Nassau County through their generous support," Hunsberger added.

As a University of Maryland Professor and Extension Director, from 2003 through 2010, Hunsberger’s primary focus was advancing the agricultural production needs of Worcester County, MD.

"Nassau County’s population has a proud agricultural past, but today the county’s needs are much more about gaining access to good nutrition, known as “food security,” and educational programming opportunities about topics such as gardening, landscaping and sustainability, empowering the people of Nassau County to better care for themselves and their families in the long run," Hunsberger said.

Hunsberger is a former president of the Northeast American Society of Horticultural Scientists (NEASHS) who received a Master’s degree in plant and soil sciences from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and Bachelor’s degrees in Earth Science from SUNY (Brockport) and History from The College of Wooster. She has authored several scholarly journal articles and been successful obtaining grants and contracts since 1996.

Are you excited to see what the season brings for East Meadow Farms? Tell us in the comments.

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