Sackets Harbor Agricultural Education and Awareness Center Supporting Agricultural Education Efforts

Jefferson County New York Economic Development

“Helping improve agricultural education and awareness is our mission” is what dairy farmer, and Chairperson of the Sackets Harbor Agricultural Education and Awareness Center (SHAEAC) Mike Burger said. The 501-C-3 Not for Profit organization formed in December of 2019 due to the efforts of Burger, other agricultural leaders, and the Robbins Family.  The Robbins family owns Old McDonald’s Farm, an agricultural education center near Sackets Harbor. They also own North Harbor Dairy, a 1000 cow dairy farm across the road from Old McDonald’s Farm.

SHAEAC, according to Burger, is designed to assist Old McDonald’s Farm in enhancing their agricultural education efforts but is also willing to assist other like-minded entities to enhance agricultural education efforts.  The Board of Directors of SHAEAC works with Old McDonald’s Farm to look at the needs and opportunities for agricultural education.   When those needs or opportunities are identified, SHAEAC can help serve as a vehicle to gather funds or resources.

Mr. Burger, who owns Deer Run Dairy Farm in nearby Henderson NY, indicated that SHAEAC is available to help other organizations, schools, agencies or other entities that are not a 501-C-3 not for profit organization.  “If the organization has the opportunity to enhance their agricultural education efforts and needs the abilities of a 501-C-3 organization to attract funding and other resources, we are willing to help,” Burger said.  SHAEAC will not provide grant writing services or search for funds but will provide the conduit, as long as it fits within their mission, to help the organization attract funds and other resources.

In addition to Chairman Mike Burger, the Board of Directors of SHAEAC consists of Nathan Pistner, Plant Manager of Great Lakes Cheese in Adams NY; Tedra Bean, agricultural teacher and FFA advisor at Belleville Henderson Central School; Jennifer Gaffney, Superintendent of Sackets Harbor School District; Aaron Kimmich, Vice President/Commercial Banking Officer at Community Bank NA; Jay Matteson, Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator; and Julia Robbins, General Manager at Old McDonald’s Farm, provides administrative assistance to SHAEAC.

SHAEAC and Old McDonald’s Farm have already been successful in their joint efforts. Through SHAEAC, Old McDonald’s Farm was able to attract funding from the American Farm Bureau Foundation and Farm Credit East to put on a “Hump Day – Science Day” program during the summer of 2020.  Old McDonald’s Farm also used the funding stream to create its’ very successful ZOOM-Dairy program. ZOOM-Dairy provides live interactive tours of North Harbor Dairy Farm to hundreds of elementary school students.  The students ask questions in real time about what they are seeing and hearing during the tour. The program is already scheduled through April 2021.

For more information about SHAEAC, contact Julia Robbins Ledoux at 315-778-1443 or email her at

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