Well before you meet your local Extension Agent – let’s learn about what they are & how they can help you!
So what is an extension service office? Extension service offices fall under the USDA’s Branch of Agriculture, and they exist to improve communities across the country in various forms. Their main focuses include providing research-based knowledge, food safety and quality, the plight of young children, reviving rural America, sustainable agriculture, and waste management. Often these offices are found in post offices, courthouses, universities, or other local government buildings.
Historically, ‘extension’ was formalized in 1914 through the Smith-Lever Act but its roots can be traced back to agricultural clubs and societies as far back as the 1800s. This Act was how the USDA’s partnership with land-grant universities expanded and was able to provide education in agriculture. To this day, many extension offices are found in land-grant universities, and this helps to not only support the local community through education and employment, but also works to train the next generation through formal education of agriculture.
While formal education in agriculture is an important focal point of Extension Offices, they also work to –
- Translate science for practical application
- Identify emerging research questions, find answers, and encourage application of science and technology to improve conditions
- Prepare people to break cycles of poverty, encourage healthy lifestyles, and prepare youth for adulthood
- Provide rapid responses to disasters and emergencies
- Connect people to information and assistance online
Extension offices provide incredible support to communities through important focal points and specific work. Connecting with your local extension office may help grow your organization or connect you or others in your community to services and opportunities.
To find your local extension office, you can utilize the college partners directory (this will connect you to offices located in local universities) – College Partners Directory | National Institute of Food and Agriculture (usda.gov), or you can utilize this search engine – Find Your Local Extension Service Office or Cooperative AgencyGardening Know How, or do a simple google search of “Extension Office Near Me.”
To learn more, check out these links –