letters forming the word "volunteer" on a cork board
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Volunteering is a great way to get involved with CCE!

The Beautification Brigade Volunteers transplanting flowers
Image by David Foote

The Beautification Brigade maintains public gardens in Ithaca

Master composters talk with a person in Trumansburg's outdoor Earth Day celebration
Image by David Foote

Master Composter education booth at 2023 Earth Day

4-H YOURS program volunteer with youth participants

Volunteers with the 4-H YOURS program work with local youth



Volunteers are very important to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Almost 300 individuals volunteered their time to a variety of Extension activities, contributing thousands of hours last year! 

Through duties as diverse as teaching others to prune trees or make compost, answering callers' questions on consumer or gardening issues, mentoring young people as they acquire new skills, or serving as board members or on committees that guide our work, volunteers represent Extension's far-reaching roots in our community.

Ongoing opportunities appear below, with contact names for additional information.  Some programs may require specialized training to participate; upcoming training dates are listed where known.   

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities

Prospective volunteers complete an application form . In addition, those who volunteer to work with vulnerable populations (children, individuals with disabilities, seniors, etc.) will be asked to consent to a criminal background screening at Cooperative Extension's expense, as a means of ensuring the safety and security both of our volunteers and of the people we serve through our programs.

Organizational Leadership:

Program Committee Member

Program Committees are made up of individuals who have an interest or experience in one of our main program issue areas ( Agriculture, Consumer & Financial Management, Environment, Family & Community Development, Nutrition Health & Safety, or 4-H Youth Development) and who choose to share their time and talents with CCE-Tompkins as volunteer advisers. Program Committees meet monthly; individual members generally serve for a term of 3 years, although 2 and 1 year options also are considered. Program Committee members do not need to be Tompkins County residents unless they wish to serve as a representatives to the Board (in which case county residency is required). Learn more about serving as a Program Committee member.

Beautification Brigade

Our annual orientation in March, but join any time! Volunteer with the Tompkins County Community Beautification Program and have fun while making a difference in the City of Ithaca. The Beautification Brigade plants and maintains spring and summer flowers in plantings around Ithaca. Join this fun group and help make Ithaca more beautiful while learning useful gardening tips and techniques. Free and open to anyone who wishes to volunteer with the program. Visit the Beautification Brigade website, or call Community Beautification at (607)272-2292, or email beautification@cornell.edu for more information or to request a volunteer application.

Childcare Provider(s)

Free childcare helps participants in CCE's nutrition and parenting classes attend and complete their workshop series, however we do not have funds to support this service. We need volunteer childcare providers who could be scheduled for a 2-3 hour session occasionally. Experience in early childhood development or daycare is desirable! Contact Anna Steinkraus at 272-2292 or ams69@cornell.edu.

Citizen Pruners

We offer an annual training in April, but it is not required and you can join any time! Citizen Pruner volunteers help maintain street trees and shrubs in the City of Ithaca. Volunteers work once a week from May to October. The training is provided by the City Forestry staff and local experts. It is open to anyone, not just Citizen Pruners, and covers tree selection and care, tree pruning, and shrub pruning in three classes. To volunteer or to register for the classes, email Marissa Nolan at mn623@cornell.edu or call (607) 272-2292. Any upcoming classes can be found at our events page.

Energy Navigators

Energy Navigators help friends, neighbors and other community members to achieve their energy-related goals by providing information and resources on energy efficiency, renewable heating, solar, and other fossil fuel alternatives. The training focuses on concrete steps to reduce energy use at home, and helps volunteers understand and reduce their own energy use. To learn more,  please visit our website or contact us at EnergyNavigators@cornell.edu.

4-H Youth Programs

4-H offers youth aged 5-19 from throughout Tompkins County a variety of special interest clubs, afterschool programs, short-term enrichment offerings, a public speaking program, Environmental Appreciation Days, summer programs, and an annual youth-run Fair. There are many short- and long-term opportunities for volunteer involvement, depending upon the skills you care to share and the time you wish to commit to volunteering.

  • 4-H Club & Fair Programs
    Share a craft or a special skill with young people, help lead a 4-H Club, or spend a day as an evaluator for 4-H Fair or public speaking competitions. Individuals with knowledge of agriculture, plant science, animal husbandry, entomology, and textile/clothing construction are always welcome, but if you have a different expertise you'd like to share, please contact VendaMae Harris at 272-2292 or vmt5@cornell.edu to talk about your ideas! Orientation for new leaders and volunteers is provided on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Call for upcoming dates

Green Building Volunteers

Help plan and execute the annual Green Building Open House, a 1-day event held in alternating years. Other opportunities to promote alternative building and green energy technologies in Tompkins County are planned. Contact Guillermo Metz at 272-2292 or gm52@cornell.edu for information.

Master Composters

Applications are due in January for annual training February-April. Master Composters are an enthusiastic group committed to promoting responsible composting in Tompkins County. Training covers all aspects of composting and includes some collaborative volunteering. After completing the training program, Master Composters give time back to the community in a variety of outreach activities. Visit our Master Composter page to learn more, or call or email Adam Michaelides at 272-2292 x 124 or acm1@cornell.edu with questions. NOTE: please contact Adam for a shorter initial version of the volunteer application to use instead of the one at upper left!

Master Gardener Volunteers

The Master Gardener Volunteer program (MGV), offered throughout the US, Canada, and South Korea, includes an 18 week training and yearly volunteer hours. This program is offered throughout the U.S. and Canada. Our training runs September through March and is in conjunction with surrounding counties. Tompkins MGVs share their knowledge and enthusiasm for gardening with others by staffing our GrowLine, taking care of our Demonstration Gardens  volunteering to assist with garden lectures, working with school and community gardening, research, and much more. For more information, contact Aly Trombitas at (607)272-2292 or art228@cornell.edu.

Nutrition Education Volunteers

Share your passion for preparing delicious, healthy and affordable meals with families at risk of hunger here in Tompkins County, as a volunteer with one of our programs. Work with our trained nutrition educators, preparing meals or assisting adult or child participants in a hands-on cooking class. Training is provided and there are jobs for a variety of skill levels and interests. Contact Chris Kai-Jones at  chj7@cornell.edu or call (607) 272-2292.

Soil Sampling Volunteers

The Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Pilot Program is looking for volunteers to conduct field sampling on local farms. No prior experience is needed! Training and sampling will begin in September for Fall 2024. To learn more and apply, contact Jenna DeRario, PES Educator, at jd965@cornell.edu.

Last updated June 17, 2024