What happens to a kid who grows up on a dairy farm in northern New York, goes to The White Mountain School, and falls in love with Spanish and international agriculture? He becomes a specialist in the Cornell Vegetable Program at Cornell University, of course!
Encouraged to explore the world beyond their family farm by his father and older brother (White Mountain grad, Jason Reid ‘89), Judson Reid ‘92, toured various New England boarding schools, ultimately selecting The White Mountain School.
Judson says of his time at White Mountain, “[The School] became a new home for me and an important part of my formative years. We had classmates from around the world and teachers who really encouraged us to make connections. I give White Mountain tremendous credit for developing a sense of wonder about the world beyond familiar territory. This happened through rock climbing, backcountry skiing and cultural events, plus the relationships that can only happen in a boarding school setting.”
During his sophomore year of college, Judson had the opportunity to study in Ecuador at La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador in the capital city of Quito. While enjoying the new culture and language opportunities, he found himself drawn to the rural areas of the country. For a class project he conducted a study on an isolated farming community at 6000’. This combination of his rural roots and international interests illuminated a clear professional path. Judson transferred to Cornell University where he majored in International Agriculture with an Agronomy concentration and then earned a Master’s degree in Plant Protection.
For the past 18 years, Judson has been living in upstate NY with his family, and working for the Cornell Vegetable Program. Judson specializes in season extension of vegetable crops and conducts research on soil/plant nutrients and pest and disease management. His first assignment was working with Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities, which drew on his international agriculture degree.
“I was in the States, but my audience spoke a different language, did not access modern technology and were culturally distinct,” says Judson.
He has since gone on to publish peer-reviewed articles on these cultures. Further assignments were indeed international as he worked with farmers in Jamaica, Tanzania, Belarus, Armenia, Belize and beyond! Judson’s daily work takes him to farms outside of Ithaca, in the Adirondacks and urban farms in New York City.
Remarking on the incredible diversity of farms and farming practices in New York, Judson states, “Agriculture to me became a vehicle to connect with people and help them realize their goals. It is a unifying occupation where I find commonalities between the people who drive a horse and buggy or those who ride a subway to their rooftop farm in Brooklyn. Wherever I go in the world, when I meet farmers we have a bond. Growing food connects us all in a common endeavor and passion.”
A firm believer in the work the Cornell Cooperative Extension does, Judson sees a bright future on the horizon for small farm agriculture in NY, across the country and even world-wide. He is also proud of the work being done at The White Mountain School with the Farm and Sustainability Studies Programs.
“Whether they become farmers themselves or not, we need future generations to develop an understanding of how food is produced and the interface between agriculture and the natural environment. The skills and knowledge the students gain in this work can be applied to many professional and personal fields. The world needs more young people with these experiences and White Mountain is contributing. I give credit to the success I’ve enjoyed to White Mountain.”
Catch up with YOUR classmates during this Fall’s Alumnae/i Weekend! Save the Date information and more on our website.