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Cornell Awarded for Work with Farmworkers

On November 10th, Cornell University was awarded the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award for its ongoing work with farmworkers in New York State. This award, complete with a $20,000 grant, was delivered at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) annual meeting in San Diego. 

President Martha Pollack accepted the award, highlighting the collaborative efforts that support the farmworker programs.

“Cornell is both honored to accept this award and grateful to the hundreds of individuals who have contributed to our farmworker programs – from community partners to students, faculty and staff,” she said, according to the Cornell Chronicle. “The prize will be put to good use to advance university-farmworker engagement across the country.”

Cornell’s long history of working with farmworkers is one of the ways they live up to their land grant mission. For over 50 years, the university has provided legal, educational, and outreach support to the large and often invisible community of farmworkers in New York State. Farmworkers are essential for the continued success of the agricultural industry within the state. Supporting these workers is an important way that Cornell also helps to maintain farming in New York State as a whole.

Of the 55,000 agricultural laborers working in NYS, 11,000 of them are immigrants. This population is especially vulnerable, and suffers from underrepresentation, isolation, and exploitation. Various Cornell programs are dedicated to aiding this marginalized population with everything from medical care, to legal and immigration advice. 

Beth Lyons, who runs the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic in the Cornell Law School, told the Cornell Chronicle about the importance of these programs.

“To be able to connect with communities that are so hidden and out of reach is an important part of the Cornell programs’ missions and pedagogy,” Lyons said

In addition to the Legal Assistance Clinic, other important programing exists in facilities across campus. Notably, the Cornell Farmworkers Program, which is located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Cornell Farmworkers Program was started in 1966 by a group of student activists who proposed the program to the Faculty Senate. Today, it continues under Mary Jo Dudley along  with a strong body of student volunteers. The organization provides various support to 1,200 farmworkers all over New York State. 

To learn more about this, read the original article published by the Cornell Chronicle, as well as the CALS spotlight page.

Anna Birn

Anna Birn

Anna Birn is a junior studying Agricultural Science with a minor in Community Food Systems. She works as a student assistant at the Cornell Small Farms Program, supporting its communications and outreach efforts.
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