Volunteers are very important to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Over 1,200 individuals volunteer their time to a variety of Extension activities, contributing over 73,000 hours each year! 

Through duties as diverse as teaching others to prune trees or make compost, answering callers' questions on consumer or gardening issues, mentoring young people as they acquire new skills, or serving as board members or on committees that guide our work, volunteers represent Extension's far-reaching roots in our community.

Ongoing opportunities appear below, with contact names for additional information.  Some programs may require specialized training to participate; upcoming training dates are listed where known. 

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities

Prospective volunteers complete an application form (LINK).  In addition, those who volunteer to work with vulnerable populations (children, individuals with disabilities, etc.) will be asked to consent to a criminal background screening at Cooperative Extension's expense, as a means of ensuring the safety and security both of our volunteers and of the people we serve through our programs.

Beautification Brigade

Annual training in March, but join any time!  Volunteer with the Beautification Program and have fun while making a difference in the City of Ithaca. The Beautification Brigade plants and maintains spring and summer flowers on city traffic medians and the Ithaca Commons.  Join this fun group and help make Ithaca more beautiful while learning useful gardening tips and techniques. Free and open to anyone who wishes to volunteer with the program. Call Dan Klein at 272-2292 or email dek22@cornell.edu for more information or to request a volunteer application.

Childcare Provider(s)

Participants in CCE's nutrition and parenting classes can attend and complete the full sequence of workshops if free childcare is provided, yet we do not have funds to support this service. We are seeking volunteer childcare providers who could be scheduled for a 2-3 hour session occasionally, and a Coordinator to develop a list and to recruit/schedule those volunteer caregivers. Experience in early childhood development or daycare is desirable!  Contact Anna Steinkraus at 272-2292 or ams69@cornell.edu.

Citizen Pruners

Annual training in April, but join any time! Citizen Pruner volunteers help maintain street trees and shurbs in the City of Ithaca. Volunteers work once a week from May to October. Training is provided by university and local experts and covers: urban trees, evaluating tree structure and needs, and  pruning trees and shrubs.  Classes are free for volunteers and $5/class for the public. To volunteer or to register for the classes, call 272-2292 ext. 126 or email Monika Roth at mr55@cornell.edu.

Consumer HelpLine 

The Consumer HelpLine is a community education effort staffed by trained volunteers, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, Monday-Friday. Volunteers help callers to explore options for solving current problems, and provide information that can help them make informed decisions. We offer training and flexible scheduling. Volunteers should have good listening skills, a warm telephone manner,  and an interest in helping people find information and learn how to work through their problems.  Knowledge of consumer/housing issues or an interest in learning about them is suggested.  For information, contact Carole Fisher at 272-2292 or crf11@cornell.edu.

4-H Youth Programs

4-H offers youth aged 5-19 from throughout Tompkins County a variety of special interest clubs, afterschool programs, short-term enrichment offerings, a public speaking program, Environmental Appreciation Days, summer programs, and an annual youth-run Fair. There are many short- and long-term opportunities for volunteer involvement, depending upon the skills you care to share and the time you wish to commit to volunteering.

4-H Club & Fair Programs
Share a craft or a special skill with young people, help lead a 4-H Club, or spend a day as an evaluator for 4-H Fair or public speaking competitions. Individuals with knowledge of agriculture, plant science, animal husbandry, entomology, and textile/clothing construction are always welcome, but if you have a different expertise you'd like to share, please contact Brenda Carpenter at 272-2292 or btc6@cornell.edu to talk about your ideas! Orientation for new leaders and volunteers is provided on an ongoing basis throughout the year.  Call for upcoming dates

Duck Race & 5K Run
Each April, 4-H holds a rubber duck race on Cascadilla Creek and a 5K run to raise funds for youth programs. Volunteers serve on an event planning committee, sell chances in advance of the event, and perform a host of duties on race day. Contact Megan Tifft at 272-2292 or met38@cornell.edu for more information!

4-H Environmental Appreciation Days
Each May, as many as 500 local 4th-6th graders take school field trips to local state parks, 4-H Acres and other sites in Tompkins County, where volunteer instructors lead them through three 50-minute hands-on nature and ecology lessons.  Individuals who wish to volunteer as instructors should contact Megan Tifft, 272-2292 or met38@cornell.edu.

Green Building Volunteers

Help plan and execute the annual Green Building Open House, a 2-day event held on the first  weekend of October, sponsored jointly with the Ithaca Green Building Alliance. Other opportunities to promote alternative building and green energy technologies in Tompkins County are planned.  Contact Guillermo Metz at 272-2292 or gm52@cornell.edu for information.

Locavores: "Eat Here Now!"

Help our community become more aware of  local foods and farms, culinary events, and community gardens while encouraging the purchase and consumption of more local and regional products. Help create or update a Locavore website and newsletter; organize or volunteer at special events, and more! All skills are needed.  Contact Liz Karabinakis at 272-2292 or evk4@cornell.edu.

Master Composters

Applications due in January for annual training  February-April.  Master Composters are an enthusiastic group committed to promoting responsible composting in Tompkins County. Training covers all aspects of composting and includes some collaborative volunteering. After completing the training program, Master Composters give time back to the community in a variety of outreach activities.  Call or email Adam Michaelides at  272-2292 x 124 or acm1@cornell.edu for information.

Master Gardeners

Training is offered in alternate years; call for information. The Master Gardener program, offered throughout the U.S. and Canada, provides avid gardeners with many hours of intensive home horticulture training. In return, they share their knowledge and enthusiasm for gardening with others by volunteering to assist with garden lectures, exhibits, demonstrations, school and community gardening, phone diagnostic service, research, and many other projects. Master Gardener Volunteers at CCE-Tompkins staff a GrowLine and answer gardening questions for callers. For more information, contact Pat Curran at 272-2292 or pc21@cornell.edu.

Money Management Educators

Volunteer Money Management Educators are matched with individuals who want to improve their financial well-being and who have enrolled in CCE's One-on-One Money Management Education Program. Volunteers provide individual instruction and coaching on setting goals, tracking spending, and making the most of resources. Participants set their own pace and meet individually with the volunteer for 6-to-10 sessions, generally in a room at Cooperative Extension at a mutually convenient time. CCE provides 8 hours of training, an annual in-service workshop, and ongoing staff support. A strength-based approach is used as participants identify their personal financial goals and strategies for accomplishing them. A sincere interest in money management and in working with people is needed. Contact Helen Ranck at 272-2292 or hkr24@cornell.edu.

Nutrition Education Volunteers

CCE-Tompkins provides USDA-funded and Operation Frontline nutrition classes for families with limited resources.  Volunteers shop for groceries; or set-up, assist at, or clean-up after hands-on cooking classes.  Contact Julia Hastings-Black at 272-2292 or jh369@cornell.edu to learn more.

Sustainability Educators  

Interested citizens can help provide educational programs and events around the issues of global climate change and sustainability in schools and the community.  Bring your ideas and join us in developing this new environmental issues volunteer program. Contact Sharon Anderson at 272-2292 or ska2@cornell.edu.


Last updated: January 25th 2011 - 1:51pm