Linda Falcone’s higher education career began in continuing education at Penn State and led her to area institutions like Johnson College and Luzerne County Community College.
Now, she’s excited to return to her Penn State beginnings, this time at Penn State Extension in Wyoming County as an educator in energy, business and community vitality.
“[Penn State] gave me my start in education. It does so many different things and reaches so many different people,” said Falcone, who started her new role last May. “You can have an impact in so many different ways.”
Falcone has lived in a variety of places, from big cities to rural areas, but has called Dallas her home for the past 25 years.
She earned a master’s degree in business administration from Kutztown University and always thought she would build a career specifically in business. Falcone discovered a love for higher education that began with Penn State and found that her business skills transferred well.
“I found that I could use those skills and teach classes and do programs that brought education to different areas. It was a surprise to me how much I loved working in education and the variety of things I got to do,” Falcone said. “So I ended up staying and I moved around to several different positions in administration and in teaching.”
At Penn State Extension, Falcone mainly manages special projects and plans workshops relevant to business and agriculture. In addition to Wyoming County, she also serves Susquehanna, Bradford, Sullivan, Lycoming and Tioga Counties.
“Our goal is to increase agricultural business or any kind of business in the state, as well as to work with community leaders and groups to build better communities,” she said of the energy, business and community vitality branch of Penn State Extension.
One of Falcone’s current projects is using a grant from the Department of Agriculture to help form a supply chain between Pennsylvania farmers and the microbrewing industry. A lot of microbreweries are going out of state for necessary brewing ingredients like grains and fruits instead of purchasing them from local farms, she said.
“There was a project that was done on the western side of the state and the grant will continue that on the eastern side of the state,” Falcone explained. “The goal is to bring them together so that there’s an exchange where we know in advance how much inputs the microbreweries need so that the farmers know how much they should grow and who they can sell to.”
Falcone is also in the process of planning the 30th Annual Ag Day in Susquehanna County for March 1 at Elk Lake High School. The event, set to run from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., has seen 600 to 700 people in the past and includes several workshops and vendors.
As for workshops, Falcone is planning “Toss Your Hat in the Ring” on Feb. 13 for people interested in pursuing positions in local government or on school boards. The workshop will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Wyoming County EMA Center.
Falcone said she is looking to do more workshops, and the topics depend on area needs. With her business background, she’s done workshops on entrepreneurship, marketing and more.
“It’s a combination of finding out what people need in the community and either delivering that or finding the resources to deliver it,” she said.
Falcone said the best part of her role at Penn State Extension is talking to a variety of people with unique backgrounds. She also enjoys Penn State Extension’s vast network of educators, where she can find peers to consult on different areas related to agriculture.
“There’s so many different things that I learn about. You meet so many people,” she said. “You also find resources for people, so I can be helpful to others. If I can’t answer their questions, I can find somebody who’s pretty much an expert in all of these areas.”