I’m always surprised when I refer people to their local extension agent and they reply “who?”. I have relied on the local Extension office for years to help me solve problems that I may not have encountered before. I don’t think that I’ve ever taken an issue to the Extension office that they hadn’t seen before. Do you know who your local Extension agent is and the services they offer?
Cooperative Extension was established in 1914 by the Smith-Lever Act. This act helped to formalize an agreement between the USDA and the land-grant universities to help educate people about issues surrounding the home, garden and farm. Since that time, Cooperative Extension has evolved into a network of local extension agents, Master Gardener Coordinators, 4-H specialists and other professionals.
SO HOW CAN COOPERATIVE EXTENSION HELP YOU?
- One of the primary ways is by knowing your area. Your local extension agent knows the climate, what plants grow well and which don’t, the pests that are likely to affect your garden and how to treat them.
- In many states, the Master Gardener program functions as a service to help educate the public and address concerns that fellow gardeners may have. Master Gardeners go through an extensive training process and must volunteer to maintain their accreditation. In Virginia, Master Gardeners donated more than 811,000 hours in 2010. Very impressive.
- Cooperative Extension offers a wealth of publications to help you with any issues that you may be having. Here is a link to the Virginia 2012 Pest Management Guide. It contains all sorts of information from field crops like corn, to horticultural and forest crops, to bees. It is an invaluable resource that the Extension office offers as a free service to the residents.