Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NC Cooperative Extension Service -- Celebrating 100 years!

My husband, Sam, has spent over 20 years working for North Carolina's Cooperative Extension Service -- first as a horticulture extension agent, next as a livestock extension agent, and finally as director of our county cooperative extension service. But, those job titles don't really define everything that he does and the hours that go into his job. In fact, most of our state's extension agents wear many hats and participate in a lot of night meetings and educational programs. For example, not only does Sam oversee our county extension office, its agents and support staff, but he also has livestock, pesticide re-certification, and pasture management responsibilities, to name a few.

It still amazes me that this year is the program's 100th anniversary in North Carolina, yet many people have no clue how important this organization is or exactly what it does for our communities -- particularly those in rural areas.

What is the Cooperative Extension Service?  My definition.
The easiest way for me to explain what this organization does is by giving a logical definition. To me, cooperative extension is just that -- a teaching and service "extension" arm of our land grant universities. Here in my home state this includes North Carolina State University in Raleigh and North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro. Extension agents serve as teachers. They are specialist in various disciplines and can help lend a teaching hand to people in our communities who are eager to make things better. For example, if you are a farmer and need to learn about how to get soil testing completed for your crop fields or better understand how to treat certain weeds in your pastures, your local extension agents can help answer those questions -- free of charge! University professors and specialists can't be everywhere all the time, so this is where our extension agents come in to provide a valuable service. 

4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service
A lot of people don't realize that the youth organization, 4-H, has a long standing history as being a part of the Cooperative Extension Service. If you grew up in 4-H and are now working in agriculture, you can probably thank your local 4-H cooperative extension service program for giving you a start. Whether it was going to a 4-H camp or raising a pig as a project, 4-H helps to develop our youth so that they can make a difference in their communities. To see how 4-H has grown over the years in North Carolina, check out this clip from our local PBS channel that was recently featured: 4-H link on PBS

What do you appreciate the most about your local cooperative extension service? 

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