COMMUNITY BRIEFS: April 30 – May 7

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Weeds have some good points

CLAVERACK—Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties (CCE) announces free resource for farmers and gardeners on how to use wild edible plants in cultivated soils. Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast farmer’s guide to self-growing vegetables is a free resource that demonstrates that edible weeds are nourishing, resilient, powerful, culturally rich, ecologically essential, economically useful, and much maligned. Weeds can compete with cultivated vegetables in some spaces, but to consider them a nuisance is to disregard the ecological, social, and economic benefits they contribute to a farm or garden.

Consider the benefits and use this free guide to learn more:

*To the farmer, edible weeds provide supplemental income, diversify production, abate biological risks, offset labor costs and fossil fuel input, and open new markets

*To everyone else, edible weeds offer novel flavors and phytonutrients that may be inaccessible from cultivated crops

*Ecologically, weeds can increase biodiversity, heal soil, protect water, and guard sown crops

*Socially, weeds encourage the sharing of cross-cultural food stories, strengthen farm communities, address food insecurity, and raise opportunities for environmentally harmonious land stewardship.

The book’s author, Tusha Yakovleva is a life-long gatherer thanks to her family and first home—Russia—where harvesting plants and mushrooms for food and medicine is common practice. Her work revolves around generating strong, respectful relationships between plants and people. She teaches foraging and ethnobotany, has founded a wild food subscription program, and farmed in the Catskills region. The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education is funding this work.

Dot Ball Memorial 4H Leader Award recipient, Jessie Shields (center) with 4H educators, Meghan McDermott and Linda Tripp. Photo contributed

Ball Memorial Award bestowed on Jessie Shields

CLAVERACK—During National Volunteer Week in April, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties recognized those who volunteer in the 4H club program.

Jessie Shields, a Hannacroix resident, was selected to receive the Dot Ball Memorial 4H Leader Award from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties’ 4H Youth Development Program.

This award is presented in the memory of Dorothy Ball, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 89. Wanting to help her children and other neighborhood children, Mrs. Ball started a 4H club in 1954, the West Copake Lassies, which she led for 20 years. After that she continued to support 4H as a public presentation and county fair judge for an additional 20 years.

Ms. Shields has been the volunteer leader of her community 4H club, the Bananas, for 11 years. She also volunteers to co-lead the Teen Ambassador 4H Club. She has opened her heart and her 4H club to youth of all ages and needs. She strives to help every single child in her 4H club to be the best they can be and to participate as fully as they can.

Ms. Shields volunteers for local 4H assignments. She can be found as a driver to a 4H activity and as a chaperone to the Cornell Career Explorations trip, 4H Forestry Weekend or the New York State Fair. Last year she volunteered to ensure that local 4H members’ state fair exhibits were able to be displayed there when the loss of a 4H staff person left it in question.

“Jessie is the person that, no matter how busy she is or how much she has going on in her personal life, she will always try to find a way to help. She is that quintessential volunteer that is always there!”, Linda Tripp, 4H Youth Development Issue Leader, said in a press release.

Ms. Shields was presented with a gift-certificate to one of her favorite local restaurants where she can enjoy a night out.

Also recognized were 4H club leaders who have attained five-year increments of active involvement. They received award pins and certificates at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties annual meeting last November. They were: Five-year silver award, Alan Chittenden, Schodack Landing, Farm Friends 4H Club; Billy Greer, Kira Greer, North Chatham and Siobhan Connally, Kinderhook, Baker’s Dozen 4H Club; Jeannie Slater, Ancram, Barn Buddies 4H Club; John Brady, Valatie, Black Sheep 4H Club; Kathy Jackson, Athens, Evarts Engineers and Evarts Scientists 4H Clubs; Leslie Reed, Athens, Greene Earth 4H Club.

Ten-year gold award, Andrew Tillman, Nassau, Buccaneers 4H Club; Cindy Carlson, South Cairo, Flora and Fauna 4H Club; Helen Brady, Valatie, Black Sheep 4H Club; Karen Gilligan, East Chatham, Farm Friends 4H Club.

Fifteen-year pearl award, Lisa Lafferty, Schodack Landing, Farm Friends 4H Club; Mary Hallenbeck, Claverack, Country Kids 4H Club; Rebecca Johnk, Greenville, Medway Mountaineers 4H Club.

Twenty-year diamond award, Sandy Muller, Cairo, Flora and Fauna 4H Club.

To find out more about 4H and youth programs in Columbia and Greene counties, contact 518-828-3346 or or visit

Fire company looks to fall for next BBQ

STUYVESANT FALLS—Stuyvesant Falls Fire Company #2 has canceled its semi-annual chicken barbecue which was set for May 2. Firefighter Tim Trowbridge said the fire company looks forward to its fall barbecue in October. The firehouse can be reached at 518-799-6433.

Seniors don’t meet in May

CLAVERACK—The May 8 meeting of the Claverack Seniors has been canceled. The May 12 and June 11 trips have also been canceled.

Environmental council seeks ‘Good Earthkeepers’

HUDSON—The Columbia County Environmental Management Council (EMC) seeks nominees for its annual Good Earthkeeping (GEK) Awards. These awards strive to commend individuals, agencies, businesses and/or organizations that have made a real contribution to the preservation, improvement or increased public awareness of the environment in Columbia County.

More than 70 agencies, individuals, groups and businesses have received this prestigious honor since 1982. Last year’s recipients were the Elizabeth Gilmore Family Scotland Farm, Ancram; Conrad Hanson, Germantown; Moisha Blechman, Ancram; Christine Vanderlan, Columbia Land Conservancy; and the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties.

Eligible award categories for adults include individual, educational, group or business. Nominees must be 18 years or older. Youth aged 13 to 17 can be nominated in the individual or group categories. Current EMC members are excluded from being nominated. No self-nominations will be accepted and family members can’t nominate family or other household members.

Nomination letters must include the name of the business, group or individual, daytime phone number, and post office and email addresses. They must also contain a short description of the contributions the nominee has made to preserve, improve or facilitate a better understanding of the environment and why the nominator feels they should be recognized for their actions and efforts. The individual making the nomination must also include his or her name, daytime phone number, and post office and email addresses. Nomination rules may be viewed at

Entries may be emailed to or mailed to Good Earthkeeping Award; Columbia County Environmental Management Council; 401 State Street; Hudson 12534. They must be emailed or postmarked by May 11 to be considered. Winners will be notified by email or regular mail. An awards ceremony will be held at a later date. Inquiries about the contest can be directed to contest coordinator Theresa Mayhew at .

The Columbia County Environmental Management Council is a duly appointed body of volunteer citizens charged with advising the County Board of Supervisors on environmental matters affecting Columbia County. For more information about the EMC, contact EMC Chair Ed Simonsen at .

BPF helps shelters reduce adoption fees

HUDSON—If there’s a silver lining in the wake of the pandemic, it’s the increase in adoptions and foster families stepping up to take a pet into their home at a time when it’s needed the most.

After successfully finding forever homes for 3,325 pets in the past month, BISSELL Pet Foundation (BPF) aims to “Empty the Shelters” across the country, by appointment only, starting Saturday, May 9 through Sunday, May 17.

Those interested can adopt a pet from one of the 120+ participating organizations for $25 and BPF will pick up the remainder of the adoption fee. Plus, for one week following this Empty the Shelters promotion, BPF will also cover the same cost for new foster families who decide to adopt their pets. All adoptions will be facilitated by appointment only to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

In Columbia County, Animalkind Inc. in Hudson (518-822-8643) ( is among the more than 120 organizations in 32 states participating.

Shelters are struggling with decreased foot traffic and fewer available staff and volunteers to care for their animals. As vulnerable populations become ill, pets inevitably will be surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them. The combined impact is devastating for those trying to keep pets alive. BPF is encouraging prospective pet parents to consider adopting from their local shelter or rescue first.

“As a foundation, we pivoted quickly to help ensure adoptions continue,” said Cathy Bissell, Founder of BISSELL Pet Foundation. “I am extremely proud of our incredible shelter partners who are adapting to this new norm of virtual visits, online paperwork and adoptions facilitated by appointment only.”

For more information, or to view all participating locations, visit

Bob Weinman

Local agent honored for 15-year commitment 

CLAVERACK—Robert “Bob” Weinman, CIC, of Frank W. Starkes Insurance Agency, was recently recognized for professional leadership and advanced knowledge by the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC), a leading national insurance professional organization.

Mr. Weinman was awarded a certificate marking more than 15 years of participation as a designated CIC, which requires annual completion of advanced education and training.

His ongoing allegiance and support of the CIC Program is a testament to the value he places on “real world” education and customer satisfaction.

“Your clients, associates, and the insurance profession as a whole will benefit from such dedication and leadership,” President of the Society of CIC Dr. William T. Hold, CIC, said in a press release.

The Society of CIC is a not-for-profit organization of The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research. Mr. Weinman lives in Hudson with his wife Judy. He also owns a home inspection company called Hudson Home Inspections. He can be reached at 518-821-7547.

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