Carly Summers, Ph.D.

Carly Summers, Ph.D.

Agriculture Issue Leader
518-962-4810 x409
Agriculture, Natural Resources

Current Role

As Agriculture Issue Leader for Essex County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, Carly works to support the agricultural community through various roles and areas of focus. She provides research-based educational resources for commercial growers. In addition to connecting growers with CCE regional specialists, she hosts educational events/workshops/programs which respond to grower needs & interests. In order to best support growers and the community, she collaborates with other organizations to provide agricultural education for youth, bring wildlife-friendly and climate resilient farming initiatives to growers, encourage sustainable farming practices, & strengthen communities and the local economy by promoting local food awareness. She is the livestock lead for the County Area Response Team (CART) committee for emergency preparedness involving animals.

Farmland preservation and transition support are primary needs throughout the country. Responding to this for Essex County, Carly is leading the county’s current project to create a new Strategic Plan for Agriculture, Forestry and Food Systems. She also leads the Farmland Protection Board and serves as the Ag Districts contact for the county. Working with local land trusts, she is working to link interested farm owners with conservation easements that permanently preserve farmland for the next generation.

Carly also works to support the forestry sector, mainly through collaboration with the Adirondack Chapter of the New York Forest Owner’s Association. Through work on the Strategic Plan mentioned above, needs will be assessed for the forestry community as well. Agroforestry is a main intersection between agriculture and forestry, with a growing movement in sustainable farming practices, such as mushroom production, which Carly supports through shiitake mushroom cultivation workshops.

Carly’s ultimate goal is to promote and enable whole-systems thinking and appreciation that honors and melds understanding and care of the natural environment with appreciation for quality, local food that nurtures bodies, souls, and local businesses.


Carly’s background includes a varied focus on agro-ecosystems, from microscopic phytobiomes and soil microbial communities to region-wide projects. Her PhD in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology from Cornell University focused on organic vegetable production, cover cropping, pathogen detection and Integrated Pest Management. She worked for two years in El Salvador through the Peace Corps with the agricultural community, conserved forests, and youth.