Skip to main content


Joan S. Petzen - Outstanding Leadership and Service In Agricultural Planning and Farmland Protection In Cattaraugus County New York

Cattaraugus County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board - Joan has been a member for 20+ years of this Board and is currently the Chair. In that role, and together with the Board, Joan has:

  • Assisted planners and consultants in the development of "Cattaraugus County's Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan". Over 225 people from farmers and agri-business owners to community leaders were involved in the planning process, which included a kickoff meeting, personal interviews, and focus group meetings across the County. Joan is excited about the opportunities this plan holds for Cattaraugus County agriculture.
  • Developed a process for administering the County's Right-to-Farm Law and published a fact sheet documenting the procedures.
  • Used her skill in community dispute resolution in dealing with farmer / neighbor relations issues.
  • Worked with NYSDOT to ensure that the alignment of the Route 219 Expressway will take the least amount of prime agricultural land.
  • Advised the County Legislature in the creation and maintenance of the Agricultural District Program in the County, which encompasses approximately 235,000 acres of agricultural land.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany-Cattaraugus County - Joan has a Masters in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and Animal Science from Cornell University. She is also a graduate of LEAD-NY, a two-year agricultural leadership development program. Her Cooperative Extension career spans 23 years.

In her position as Extension Issue Leader for Agriculture and Natural Resources - Business Management Educator, Joan teaches business management concepts including: financial analysis, personnel management, business transfer and retirement planning, enterprise evaluation, and budgeting for farms and small businesses.

Joan serves on the Cornell University Small Farm Program Work Team that is championing programs to build the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ability to meet the research and education needs of small farms in the state.

Joan co-chaired a Cornell Cooperative Extension statewide project by twenty-five agents, faculty, and specialists that developed the "Your Dairy in Transition" workbooks to help dairy farm managers chart the future direction of their farm businesses.

As an active player in the pasture management arena, Joan led a pasture demonstration project in South Western New York that collected forage quality information on bi-weekly intervals for three seasons.

Cooperatives- Joan became involved with Cooperatives programming in the mid-1980's when the Western New York Crop Management Association Cooperative evolved from a local Extension pilot program. She helped to pilot the Alternative Agriculture Program for the Extension System in 1984. Since the first workshop series, she has worked with the Rural Enterprise Association of Proprietors (REAP) and helped them to start four Farmers Markets in small cities and villages in Western New York. Joan has also worked with the Specialty Animal Meat Cooperative (SAM), the Southern Tier Ostrich Producers, Canticle Farm Community Supported Farm, and, most recently, Halal Premium Foods, LLC and Pure Farm Goodness Livestock Cooperative to assist them in the development of organizational structures.

Other Leadership Activities- Joan continues her leadership activities with an active involvement in the New York State Agricultural Society, and the New York and National Associations of County Agricultural Agents (from which she received the "Distinguished Service Award" and the "National P.R.I.D.E. Award" for Public Relations in Daily Efforts). As part of the North East Region Executive Committee, Joan helped plan their 2005 Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference that brought together 1,500 educators and their family members in Buffalo, New York.

Family Background- Joan grew up on a dairy farm in the Genesee Valley south of Rochester, New York. Dairy and processing sweet corn were the primary enterprises on her home farm. During her youth, she was active in both 4-H and the Junior Holstein Association. Today she continues as a partner in Sinclair Farms. Joan also assists her husband with the financial management of their family business - Steve Petzen Excavating.

Joan states "I have been involved in agriculture all my life. I grew up on a dairy farm and was mentored by my father, John Sinclair, on the importance of agriculture and preserving it for future generations, which I am striving to do."