“Nice to meet you. What do you do?”
“I work at UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie”
“What is that?” Here we go – another chance to introduce Extension to someone new.. But why? Why has it been so hard for Extension to gain recognition, to brand itself, to become a household word like ‘library.’ I wish I could answer that. I’m sure land-grant universities across the nation wish they could answer that too. Since that answer is larger than we can tackle here, let’s look instead at how Extension works for you.
For more than 100 years, Extension has been a federally-funded program that exists in every state in our nation . In Florida, Extension has a presence in every county as well, and exists as a cooperative effort between the University of Florida, the USDA, and county governments. That means your tax dollars pay for it and if you aren’t taking advantage of it, you are leaving money on the table! Extension is tasked with taking the research results of scientists from land-grant universities and delivering it to the public. The public can use that knowledge to make better decisions for themselves and their families. Long ago, this was crop and livestock research with maybe some food safety information for the farmer’s wife.
Today, Extension is more than crops, livestock and canning. You have personal and electronic access to research-based, non-biased information on topics like energy conservation, natural resources, parenting, money management, business skills, leadership, civic rights and responsibilities and more. Extension can help you understand why your houseplants keep dying, which pest control company is the best for the price, and how to build a bat house to reduce mosquitoes in your area. What they can’t do (yet) is tell you why you hadn’t heard of them before!