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Fall 2009
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SPECIAL FEATURE

Outstanding Alumni Awards

Lawrence EckhardtLawrence K. Eckhardt ’80 is co-owner of Capital Area Agricultural Consulting, Inc., with his wife, Heather, working with numerous clients in eastern New York and western New England. He is also president of Kinderhook Creek Farm, Inc.; a fresh market vegetable, field crop, and beef operation, which serves as a model for other growers in sustainable agriculture.

Over the years, Eckhardt has devoted much of his energy and enthusiasm to support New York agriculture and Cornell’s land grant mission. As president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association for more than 18 years, he has been an articulate spokesperson providing guidance for the vegetable industry and state government leaders regarding the needs and value of this economically important industry. Eckhardt is a graduate of Class II of the LEAD-NY program (1987-89). In 2000-01, Eckhardt lead a team to secure $200,000 in funding for the NYS Seed Testing Laboratory located at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. He has served on the CALS Advisory Council (1992-94) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Rensselaer County Agriculture Program Committee (1982-86). He currently serves as a director for the New York Agricultural Innovation Center and regularly travels across the state and Northeast to share his knowledge with others. It was Eckhardt’s personal initiative to convince fruit and vegetable growers to combine their events into the NYS Fruit and Vegetable Exposition, which resulted in a bigger and better show in 2005, increasing visibility and stability for the fruit and vegetable industry.

As founding director and member of the board of directors of the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI), Eckhardt helped increase the importance of sustainability of farms in New York by securing federal and state funds to offer as grants to farms and researchers. As an active member of the New York State Farm Bureau, Eckhardt serves on several advisory committees, such as the Fruit, Vegetable and Honey Technical Committee, State Labor Committee and the International Trade Committee. As a member of the Council of Agricultural Organizations (CAO), Eckhardt helped formulate policy recommendations for New York to further benefit and grow its agricultural industry. As a long-standing member of the New York State Agricultural Society, he works with leaders from across the state to promote this vital and important industry.

As a guest lecturer at SUNY Cobleskill, Eckhardt teaches students the ins-and-outs of vegetable marketing. He also meets with the Cornell Dairy Fellows Program students on their trips to eastern New York. On a typical trip, Eckhardt spends two days with this student group – presenting information on environmental regulation, crops and soils and working with students on analyzing the farm business.

On the international level, Eckhardt promotes the state’s vegetable industry at the annual Produce Marketing Association’s International Exposition. This exposition attracts agricultural industry personnel from all over the world. In recent years, Eckhardt participated in a trade mission to Canada, organized by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, where he worked to develop relationships with new marketing outlets for the vegetable industry in New York.

An active volunteer and leader in his community, Eckhardt works with his church and has been a town councilman since his election in 1999. His generous and caring nature are evident in the work he continues to do to benefit the less fortunate. Eckhardt was the first to participate in the Summer of Gleaning Project, and has continued to get others involved to benefit the Regional Food Bank. He donates food for the Chef and Vintners Dinner to raise money for emergency food programs. He regularly provides sweet corn for the Taste of Rensselaer County dinner for legislators, dignitaries, and farmers.

Eckhardt lives in Stephentown, NY, with his wife, Heather. They have two children: Matthew ’09 (CALS-Agricultural Science), and Andrew (18).

 

Outstanding Alumni Awards