Website/Online Content

Mary Kate Wheeler
Farm Business Management Specialist
Cornell Cooperative Extension
South Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Wheeler, M.*1,
1 Farm Business Management Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Owego, NY, 13827

This entry highlights a regional extension team blog, created and curated by Farm Business Management Specialist Mary Kate Wheeler. The South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team is a partnership between Cornell University and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of six New York counties: Broome, Chemung, Cortland, Onondaga, Tioga and Tompkins. Mary Kate is one of five extension specialists, including NACAA member Fay Benson, who rgularly contributes to the blog.

The blog began in early 2019 as a means to expand the visibility and accessibility of original content developed by team members. For more than 30 years, the team has published a print newsletter to share information and events with farm operators. However, that content was previously difficult or impossible to find online in digital form.

Using the Cornell University blog service, Mary Kate customized a template that she uses to publish three types of articles. Technical articles describe applied research, emerging technologies, or educational resources. Success stories highlight program impacts, while press releases describe upcoming events. The ease of publishing allows the team to respond quickly to producer needs, and rapidly cover emerging topics. The blog stores content in a format that is easy to browse and search.

Today, the blog has 478 subscribers who receive an email every time a post is published. Most are commercial farmers, yet the list includes extension educators, government agency representatives, and private sector service providers from across the state. The blog also receives attention from agricultural publications. The list of media outlets that have run articles from our blog includes Hoard’s Dairyman Intel, Country Folks Magazine, Morning Ag Clips, and Cornell Small Farms Quarterly.

By increasing the visibility and accessibility of our work, the blog enhances the team’s ability to serve existing audiences, introduces our work to new audiences, and increases our capacity for digital engagement. According to WordPress, 3,817 blog visitors logged 6,103 sessions and viewed 1.75 pages per session during the blog’s first year of activity. Our team is encouraged by this initial success, and excited to see how this communication tool develops into the future.