Extension Associate - Precision Ag Specialist - Cornell cooperative Extenstion

Cornell Cooperative Extension Administration, Western New York Region

Summary Statement of Purpose and Responsibilities:
Provide commercial crop and vegetable growers, consultants and industry representatives with the knowledge and educational resources necessary to advance precision agriculture and new technology applications to production and management practices that will sustain and enhance the profitability of the field crops and vegetable industries in Western New York. The Precision Agriculture Specialist will apply cutting-edge technologies, which may include sensors, computer vision, robotic automation and geographic information systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) to agricultural production or management activities. They will use computers to develop and analyze maps or remote sensing images to compare physical topography with data on soils, fertilizer, pests, or weather.  They will test and demonstrate in the field the uses and applications of cutting edge sensing, mapping and variable rate technologies with automatic tractor guidance systems, variable rate chemical input applicators, mechanical harvesting, surveying equipment, and computer mapping software.

Specific Job Functions and Responsibilities:

Program Development, Implementation, and Evaluation - 50%
Provide leadership for planning, implementing and evaluating educational programs that address grower identified needs and opportunities in the area of precision agriculture including:

  • advance Precision Agriculture and New Technologies to vegetable and field crop growers;
  • assist growers, crop consultants and vegetable field representatives in understanding which technologies are available to them, may become available in the future, and what the potential uses and costs/cost benefits to their farm would be;
  • conduct and/or support research in technology innovation with regards to detection and management of crop pests (weeds, insects, diseases), soil and nutrient management, water management, and determination of crop maturity (ex. proper time to harvest processing vegetables);
  • support the grower-industry interface by working closely with the precision ag products equipment industry.

Plan and implement educational programs utilizing a variety of methods including direct teaching through group experiences, social media, newsletters, electronic technology, use of the internet and distance learning.  

One-on-one consultations with key growers and industry partners related to program development and problem solving.

Analyze and evaluate major program efforts with the input of all program partners and make recommendations for enhancing these efforts.

Communicate evaluation results, findings, and recommendations as appropriate.

Prepare quarterly reports and yearly impact statements on program progress and accomplishments.
Applied Research - 20%
Initiate and conduct field demonstrations and in-depth applied research projects appropriate to the needs of commercial vegetable and field crop production in Western New York.

Participate in statewide, collaborative research projects with university and extension faculty and staff as well as other agencies and organizations.

Define and implement reporting mechanisms for producer-focused “measurable” outcomes.

Meet the evaluation and reporting requirements of funding partners

Program Management - 15%
Responsible for routine operations, reporting and accountability.

Support team efforts of communication with stakeholders and partners.

Support team efforts in planning and implementing of regional and statewide events.

Individually and collaboratively explore and pursue new and additional funding sources to enhance and extend program opportunities.

Enhance and promote teamwork.

Organizational Leadership-10%
Support Cornell University and Cooperative Extension system-wide initiatives through participation in program work teams, ad-hoc committees and advisory groups.

Participate in regional, statewide and national work groups related to the work of Cornell University, Cooperative Extension and the Vegetable, Dairy and Field Crops Industry.

Foster strong collaboration among faculty, peers, and industry.

Establish and maintain positive relationships with the many individuals and groups that support the work of the organization.

Professional Development - 5%
Participate in professional development opportunities, conferences and workshops appropriate to program and personal skill enhancement.

Participate in related regional, statewide, and national professional organizations.


  • Master’s Degree in Agriculture or Applied Engineering from an accredited institution or closely related field.
  • 2+ years of relevant work experience in Agribusiness, Crop Production, Cooperative Extension, or closely related fields.  
  • Experience in conducting, interpreting, evaluating and communicating the results of applied research.
  • Knowledge of the philosophy, objectives and operation of an informal education system such as Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with proven ability to work with diverse audiences in group and one-on-one settings; working effectively with advisory boards and committees, community and funding partners.
  • Proven organizational and time-management skills.
  • Ability to define, conduct and interpret applied research and demonstration projects.
  • Successful experience obtaining new funding including grants and industry support.
  • Strong leadership and teamwork skills.
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • Fundamental competence utilizing current technology as a management and program delivery tool (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, Internet and Social Media).
  • Appreciation of Agriculture as a business and as a lifestyle.
  • Creativity, energy, motivation and positive enthusiasm.
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends as essential job functions require.
  • Must be able to meet the travel requirements of the position, including having reliable transportation or having and maintaining a valid New York State driver’s license.


  • Coursework in GIS, Image Processing, Precision Agriculture and Technology, Vegetable Production, Agronomy, Forage Production, Soil Science, Nutrient Management, Pest Management, Adult Education, and Communications.  
  • 5+ years of relevant work experience.
  • Knowledge of current and emerging issues and production practices of vegetable, dairy and field crops.

Administrative direction and guidance provided by the State Extension Specialist for Regional Ag Programs (CCE Administration).

Program development guidance and support provided by the NWNY and CVP Program Team Leaders.

Academic oversight and guidance provided by designated faculty in the School of Integrated Plant Science.

Program oversight and direction provided by the field crops and vegetable advisory committees comprised of CCE County Associations, producers and industry partners.

Administrative and Program Relationships

Work as a member of a specialist team.

Work as a member of existing regional, multi-county and statewide teams and work groups.

Work closely with faculty and administration at Cornell.

Build collaborative relationships and maintain timely and effective communication with County Extension Associations.

Build and maintain effective relationships with producers/growers, consultants and other industry representatives.

Develop and maintain effective communication and working relationships with appropriate agribusiness, industry partners, other educational institutions and governmental agencies and organizations.


Contact Jodi Letham at or 585-208-8209