What exactly is cooperative extension?

Published 4:14 pm Friday, July 29, 2016

By Ty Torrance

Since I grew up in an “Extension” family and spent my whole life around county agents, it is hard for me to imagine that there are people that don’t know what UGA Extension is. There is nothing more entertaining to me than watching someone’s face when I try to explain to them what UGA Extension does. That is a good question, “What is Cooperative Extension?” I think that most of the older generation know about Extension, but what about younger age group? Do they know about Extension and what we have to offer our communities and the entire state?

In 1914, Congress established the Cooperative Extension Service to deliver information from land-grant colleges and universities to all Americans, particularly those who lacked access to formal education.

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The “College on Wheels” carried UGA Faculty and exhibits of interest across the state from 1908 through 1917. Although agriculture and society have changed dramatically during the past 100 years the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension continues to fulfill its basic mission.

Agriculture Extension Agents help keep farmers abreast of new technology, research, and marketing strategies. Family and Consumer Science Agents help parents cope with the pressures of balancing home, work, and children. Others help keep families healthy with nutrition and food safety information.

Some train food service professionals in food safety. Most everyone is familiar with our faculty that work with our young people through 4-H to help shape future leaders through community involvement, citizenship, livestock and other projects.

As we like to say we are not just farms and livestock. We are an “Extension” of the University of Georgia with specialists in as many different fields as issues we can face. A good way to explain it would be, “We are the Verizon guy and the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State are the people following him around.”

You name it and UGA Extension has a specialist that deals with it. In the Decatur County Office, none of us claim to have all of the answers. I tell people all of the time that I don’t know it all, but I have a really impressive phonebook. Many people will ask, “Why do we need Extension when we have the internet and all the information it provides”? My first reaction would be a phrase I am sure all of you have heard by now, “Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true”. The best answer I have that I can’t stress enough is, we provide clientele with unbiased research based information from land grant universities like the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State.

We are not trying to sell anything but ourselves and the organization. As taxpayers, you are paying for us to be here; so we work for you. We want to provide information, and programming that will benefit the citizens of Decatur County and South Georgia.

As always, if you have any questions give us a call at 229-248-3033.