Master of Public Health

At Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCE-Tompkins) we address issues of public health from an adaptive socio-ecological perspective. We are delighted to partner with Cornell’s MPH program to further this work while providing a range of tailored practicum and/or research opportunities to its students. We are especially excited to work with this program’s students because their experience and advanced skill sets can broaden and deepen our collaborative work with the community.We welcome suggestions for new projects that suit your interests/future goals while also aligning with the needs of Tompkins County residents.

Our Association offices in downtown Ithaca are part of the statewide Cornell Cooperative Extension system and in our Association alone we have about 50-100 students—both undergraduate and graduate--working with us every year. Our mission is to work for the whole community. As part of that mission we aim to research and tackle health issues and disparities across spectrums of diversity so as to enhance the social well-being of Tompkins County residents. These projects, opportunities and ongoing research questions include:

Nutrition and Food Security

We have a number of nutrition education and obesity prevention programs—including but not limited to Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program--and we welcome research and interventions that improve the effectiveness of these programs for marginalized and under-resourced families. In general, across our healthy eating programming we are inquiring after the real causes of dietary behaviors, and what can we do to improve them while working with the community.

We also have a significant number of projects around food security, nutrition disparities, and strengthening the local food system in an equitable way. These include farm to table/school, subsidized community-supported agriculture, food waste, working with organizations dedicated to supporting local farmers, interviewing and video projects, food entrepreneurship for low-income entrepreneurs, and improving Cornell’s local food sourcing.

Prenatal and Postnatal

A survey of access and availability to prenatal and immediate postnatal care as well as a determination of action steps to improve that. How is that working out for moms and fathers? And how about for those in non-heteronormative or other often marginalized parenting relationships such as those around incarceration? How can we support children aged 0-5 in their social environment from a public health perspective?


CCE-Tompkins currently supports a number of projects relating to lack of transportation and its impact on health, both mental and general.

A quote from one of our staff: “Working in mobility management is not simply about increasing the number of transportation services that exist, but increasing peoples’ overall quality of life. A lot of other organizations in other sectors can get behind increasing quality of life, but transportation is not their primary concern. For example, health care professionals are obviously looking to get the best health outcomes for their clients, but there is little help for patients to get to their necessary appointments, and it can be very easy to fall behind on preventative care.”

How can shared and active transportation options increase fitness, social environmental connections, improve connections to nature and people, and strengthen familial and other support systems? And what kinds of infrastructure changes are optimal here?

How is our environmental health impacted by transportation-related pollutants, emissions, congestion, as well as infrastructure such as parking lots and roads?

4-H and Positive Youth Development

The O.U.R.S. and Y.O.U.R.S. program is helping and mentoring often under-resourced children and youth from mobile home parks. We also have after-school and morning programs in Ithaca aimed at helping immigrants and refugees. What does it mean to foster positive healthy development among the young? For that to happen what would need to be in place in our (or any) programs that work with children and youth, (including at-risk populations)?

Opioid Abuse

We are very interested in exploring potential roles for CCE-Tompkins around this issue.Other CCE Associations have worked on this area using for example Generation Rx materials ( are currently in discussion with various stakeholders to see what we can support and deliver.If you are interested in working on or taking a leadership role in this project please contact us.

Community Organizing

An ongoing reflection at CCE-Tompkins on how to work with a community, for example, around a health project. What does that involve in the messy real world? What do you need to know and do to get things done in a just and effective way?

Contact Us

Your on-site and community-based work will be supervised by a variety of professionals who are members of our staff and who work for the health of our local community. If you would like to have a preliminary chat about what we do at CCE-Tompkins and how you might get involved please feel free to contact us at or 607-272-2292.


Christopher Kai-Jones
Nutrition, Health, Safety & Financial Education Program Leader
(607) 272-2292 ext. 135

Last updated September 11, 2023