Vintage postcard of Main Street in Canandaigua, looking north, circa 1900-1907.

Main Street, Canandaigua c. 1907 from a vintage postcard

Vintage postcard of Exchange Street, Geneva NY circa 1910

Exchange Street, Geneva c. 1910 from a vintage postcard

vintage postcard of Main Street in Canandaigua looking north, 1920s

Main Street, Canandaigua c. 1920s from a vintage postcard

Vintage postcard scene of Main Street, Honeyoe Falls, NY circa 1930s

Main Street, Honoeyoe Falls, c. 1930s from a vintage postcard

CCE-Ontario History

About Us Cornell Cooperative Extension-Ontario is a subordinate governmental agency with an educational mission that operates under a form of organization and administration approved by Cornell University as agent for the State of New York. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The association is part of the national cooperative extension system, an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal governments. As New York’s land grant university Cornell administers the system in this state. Each Cornell Cooperative Extension association is an independent employer that is governed by an elected Board of Directors with general oversight from Cornell. All associations work to meet the needs of the counties in which they are located as well as state and national goals.

History Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County had its origins in a series of unique partnerships with Cornell University and state, local and federal government with strong advocacy from families and businesses in agriculture. In the early days, CCE, then known as Farm Bureau, helped farmers to associate as a cooperative body to address the major agricultural concerns of the day, including how to increase production and disease resistant variety trials.

Important historical landmarks over 100 years include:

With the adoption of the Morrill Land Grant Act signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Cornell University was founded in 1865 as New York State's land grant university.

In 1913 the New York State legislature passed the first act supporting Cooperative Extension work with a financial appropriation to help support county associations, which were and still are, unique to New York State. The act provided funding and designated the responsibility for supervising Cooperative Extension programs to Cornell University, later in conjunction with local volunteer boards of directors and committees.

In 1914 the United States Congress passed the Smith Lever Act, that supported the Cooperative Extension in each state to extend teaching and research to the people in their home communities.

The movement in Ontario County for a Farm Bureau started in the Grange. A committee was appointed to work for a bureau, assisted by the Fruit Growers and Bee Keepers Associations. The committee met for the first time at the Court House in Canandaigua on March 28, 1917 and a constitution was adopted and officers were elected. Committees were then appointed for each town and a campaign was started to secure members for the bureau. On November 16, 1917 a meeting was held at the Court House where over 300 people attended and officers of the organization were elected.

On January 31, 1918 the Ontario County Board of Supervisors appropriated $2500 for the support of the bureau.

In March 1918, Gilbert Peck was hired as the first county extension agent to work in office space provided in the Ontario County Courthouse. In 1923 Mary Louise Chase was hired by Ontario County as a Home Demonstration Agent for the Home Bureau, a companion organization of women. Food safety, preservation, clothing construction and furniture repair were the major programs during these early years. In 1923 Clarence Johnson was hired as the first 4-H agent in Ontario County. Calf, livestock, poultry and gardening clubs were initiated.

In 1951 a cooperative partnership of funding and research-based information among the county, state and federal governments and Cornell University became the basis for the word "cooperative" in Cooperative Extension.

4-H Camp Bristol Hills opened for its first season in 1931 as a 4-H camp, meeting on the shore of Canandaigua Lake at Torrey Beach.

The construction of the Farm, Home and 4-H Center at 480 North Main Street, Canandaigua, occurred in 1955 and was financed entirely from donations, barbecues and scrap drives.

In 1955 the Farm Bureau and the County Extension Service Association became separate entities. Farm Bureau was more involved in state and national legislative concerns. Extension Service, as a public supported organization, could not directly influence legislation. The New York State Legislature enacted legislation, changing the name of the county organization to County Extension Service Association.

In the late 1960's Cooperative Extensions of Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties combined financial resources to establish the first regional agriculture teams to address the increasingly sophisticated and diverse needs within the agricultural community. The concept of hiring one agent specialist to address the needs of a particular commodity across several counties has been adopted throughout New York State.

Last updated January 31, 2019