Amanda Root, 35: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County


Amanda Root knew she wanted to work closely with children and their families. She thought she would achieve her goal as a teacher, but after accepting what she thought would be a temporary job at Cornell Cooperative Extension in 2003, she found her new calling.

“I didn’t think I would actually stay here that long. I thought I would just be here a few months and then find a teaching job and I just fell in love with the work that we do here,” Mrs. Root said.

Mrs. Root has lived in the north country her entire life. She graduated from Sackets Harbor Central School in 1997 and last year her daughter, Alexis Stewart, graduated from her alma mater.

She started working at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County after she graduated from SUNY Oswego with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and as she was working on a master’s degree in literacy.

As a December graduate, she knew she wouldn’t likely find a teaching job until the next school year.

“I like the diversity of the work that we do here. I like that it’s education, but it’s non-traditional education, so we’re working with a whole variety of audiences. We’re working with whole families,” Mrs. Root said.

In her present post, she has worked to secure grants for a wide range of projects. She said she started off working with parents, helping to teach them skills to work with their children. In the past few years she has transitioned into nutrition and health education, which she said is a personal interest.

“It’s wonderful when your personal and professional interests line up and it doesn’t necessarily feel like work every day,” Mrs. Root said.

Lisa Vaughn, association program secretary for Cornell Cooperative Extension, nominated Mrs. Root for this award because of her strong work ethic.

“Amanda is a very smart, organized professional who is very good at her job,” Ms. Vaughn said. “She is very dedicated to her work and doing the best job she can.”

One thing Mrs. Root loves about her job is that she is closely involved with projects from the beginning, doing grant writing and later seeing a project through to completion.

“I could have an idea and develop the idea with a group of people and then if we saw a need in the community, help fill the need, find the funding and see the project through,” Mrs. Root said.

From the idea stage to collaboration with other staff and community members, she is involved with multiple aspects of projects.

“In this job you aren’t doing to same thing every day; it keeps it from getting boring,” Mrs. Root said. “Hire the staff, find the funding and see everything through until it can be implemented in the community. It’s a really exciting thing.”

Diane Leonard of D.H. Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services said she nominated Mrs. Root for this award because of her engagement with the community. As a north country native, Mrs. Leonard said Mrs. Root is sincerely committed to her community. Her dedication to a healthy community transcends her job, she said. Mrs. Root runs races, triathlons, and half-marathons. She said her commitment to a healthy community is a big part of her life.

“Amanda is always trying to make healthy choices the easier choice for her community,” Ms. Vaughn said. “She lives a healthy lifestyle and she is trying to make it easier for others in her community.”

Mrs. Root said one of her greatest inspirations to be an active community servant came from her grandmother, Elizabeth Walker.

Mrs. Root said she watched her grandmother while growing up and she admired her dedication to her work as a nurse, and the impact she had on her community and family.

“She retired after I entered the workforce and I always heard people talk about the impact of her service on the community; it gave me something to strive for,” Mrs. Root said.

— by Katherine Clark Ross


The Amanda Root File

Hometown: Sackets Harbor

Professional position: Community nutrition and health program leader, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County

Family: Husband, Randy Root, city of Watertown firefighter; daughter, Alexis Stewart, 18

Education: Sackets Harbor Central School; bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s in literacy, SUNY Oswego

Community involvement: Board member, National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences; past board member, Community Action Planning Council

Last book read: “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom