March 15, 2012


McEvoy to retire from Cooperative Extension

Marathon native has spent his entire 32-year career working for the agriculture agency

McEvoyJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Syd McEvoy is retiring at the end of the month as executive director of Cortland County Cornell Cooperative Extension. He’s pictured in July at the livestock barn on the last day of the Cortland County Junior Fair, which he helped organize each year.

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — Local native and lifelong farmer Syd McEvoy started teaching lessons about farming and agriculture in 1980 and has kept at it ever since.
“This job has been in my blood,” he says.
McEvoy, 55, grew up on a dairy farm on Route 11 in Marathon and still owns a few cows there. He reminisces about his favorite cows the way others talk about their children.
In his home, he has a portrait of his favorite award-winning Holstein — Silver L. — next to his two children, Matthew and Meghan.
“I’ve just always loved animals,” he said.
McEvoy is retiring at the end of the month after 32 years working for Cornell Cooperative Extension. He spent 18 years at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County before moving to the Cortland County office in 1998.
He says he wants to retire and help out on the family dairy farm on Route 11. He also plans to be a substitute teacher in the Marathon Central School District.
“It’s time for a change,” he said.
During his time in Cortland, McEvoy has been involved in the growth of several community events, including the Cortland County Junior Fair, and helped make repairs and improvements at Camp Owahta in Solon. He is also the voice of the annual Channel 2 broadcast of the Cortland County Dairy Parade.
McEvoy says he will miss his job and is proud of his time as the executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, a group that oversees a variety of farming, agriculture, health and safety programs.
McEvoy’s colleagues, local farmers and others say they have enjoyed working with him.
Maria Adsit, finance administrator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, says McEvoy was born for his job. She said McEvoy loved getting involved in the Junior Fair and would spend hours helping out.
She remembered seeing him cleaning barns and picking up trash during the event.
“He just does everything,” Adsit said. “Whatever needs to get done, he gets done.”
Adsit said McEvoy is great at developing relationships with community members. In a single day, he might talk with 4-H Teen Council children, area farmers, county legislators and business officials from the Cortland Rotary Club, which McEvoy is president of.
“He has a gift,” Adsit said. “You never hear anyone say anything negative about him. He’s just one of those people that really works well with everybody.”
Harold White, a farmer in Marathon, knew McEvoy as a child and is not surprised he made a career out his love of animals.
He said McEvoy and other area farmers understand the value of farming and want to pass it on to future generations.
“He has always loved animals,” White said. “It’s a good discipline, learning to take care of animals and respecting them and sticking with it.”
McEvoy agrees. He gets emotional when talking about Silver L., his favorite Holstein that won awards at the New York State Fair and the “The Big E” in Springfield, Mass.
“She was nearly perfect,” McEvoy said of the Holstein. “Some people say (Triple-Crown winning racehorse) Secretariat was once in a lifetime. For me, Silver L. was once in a lifetime.”
Silver L. is short for “Silver Lining.” McEvoy received the Holstein when his grandmother Frances died in 1995.
McEvoy says he will miss the job, particularly the 4-H Teen Council group he advises. The group is for 13 - through 19-year-olds from throughout the county who want to do community service work and make occasional field trips to cities including New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.
“That has been my favorite part of the job,” he said.
His job ends at the end of the month and a search committee has been appointed to find his replacement. McEvoy said the Cooperative Extension hopes to have a new executive director by August.
He plans to stay in his home in Marathon during his retirement years. He said he is proud to be among the few people who can say they only worked for one employer during their life.
“I have no regrets,” McEvoy said. “I’ve just enjoyed my work and Cortland is a great place to live.”


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