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Linda A. Elligott ’75

 

Alumni Spotlight: Linda A. Elligott

Aquatic Biology, Class of ‘75
Senior Environmental Manager, Adams & Nichols Consultants, Inc.
 

If all the stops along Linda Elligott’s career path have had one thing in common, it’s that a river’s run through them.

It probably all started,” says Linda A. Elligott, “when I discovered that I really, really hated dissecting things – and also that scalpels kind of scare me.”

And so it was that Linda, who came to Cobleskill in 1973 to major in Science Lab Technology with a focus on general biology, found that a better (not to mention less perturbing) area of study for her was fish and wildlife biology – and more specifically, stream sampling.

“I had always enjoyed the outdoors, and now here I was, excited with the idea of doing fieldwork and with Cobleskill Creek running virtually right outside my dorm window,” she says. “I stepped into the water, and that was pretty much that. The die was cast.”

SUNY Cobleskill was, at that time, a two-year college, and Linda graduated in 1975 with an A.A.S. degree in Aquatic Biology. Now what to do with it? “My advisor directed me to the New York State Employment Office,” she explains, “and within a couple of months I received a 180-day appointment as a federal water quality specialist with the upstate New York office of the U.S. Geological Survey. Then, when my six-month appointment expired, I was lucky enough to find a permanent position with the USGS in Jackson, Mississippi.”

Despite having received two federal appointments by the age of 21, Linda soon realized that continued career advancement was going to require advanced academic credentials. She left the USGS and returned to New York, where she received both her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology and a master’s in Environmental Science/Water Resources from Syracuse University.
"I stepped into the water, and that was pretty much that. The die was cast."
“I began to have contact with the research-and-development people,” he explains, “which really broadened my horizons. Eventually I became part of the team that launched the sugarless version of Bubble Yum. Corporately speaking, it was a big deal.”

But it wasn’t to last. The Lifesavers division announced that it was moving out of state, and Jeffrey was asked to stay on through the company’s staged departure from its Canajoharie factory as a supervisor of sanitation operations, once again on the third shift. When, after a year, the factory doors closed for good, he was fortunate enough to find a position as housekeeping supervisor at Johnstown Hospital.

“I know it may sound like a cliché, but I was learning a lot from being in all these different jobs, in all these different work environments. I didn’t look at any of it as wasted time,” he says. “It was just a matter of one opportunity leading to the next.”

Before long, however, cruel fate intervened again: The hospital closed when the State of New York determined that the area’s in-patient bed-count was too high. Facing unemployment once more, Jeffrey inquired about a job at Beech-Nut on the advice of a friend who worked there. Soon he was working as a supervisor in their packaging department.

In his three decades with the company that have passed since then, Jeffrey’s corporate odyssey has taken him through such positions as head of operations for packaging and maintenance, manager of cereal operations and, eventually, plant manager of the entire Beech-Nut facility at Canajoharie. Today he is Vice President of Manufacturing for the Beech-Nut company as a whole.

Jeffrey is also a consistent donor to SUNY Cobleskill. And how does he look back on his school 40 years after graduating? “I got a broad and excellent education there,” he says. “I learned a great deal about science and nature. The science part has helped me in business. The nature part exposed me to things that I share now with my children.

“But maybe most important? I grew up on a farm and had never had much exposure to people from different places with different cultures. At Cobleskill I had to develop people skills, like listening and finding commonalities and having empathy. I’ve used those skills ever since, everywhere I’ve been. I really don’t think I could have progressed very far without them.”