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cooperative extension system

Teaching Rural Alaskans to Farm is her Passion

The following guest blog from University of Alaska Fairbanks highlights the professionalism and dedication of educators in the Cooperative Extension System.

By Debbie Carter, University of Alaska Cooperative Extension

Heidi Rader planned to become a farmer when she graduated from college.

During high school and college, she worked a succession of jobs at greenhouses and farms that seemed to be leading to an agricultural career.  For her master’s degree, she grew snap beans and lettuce, and studied high-tunnel production at University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Natural Resources and Extension Fairbanks Experiment Farm.

Everybody Talks About the Weather...

The climate statistics for the first month of 2014 have been impressive. Extreme weather has lashed the United States from Alaska to Florida with record warmth, cold, dry and wet conditions all at the same time. The National Climatic Data Center reports that January of 2014 was the driest January on record for New Mexico, 2nd driest for Arizona and 3rd driest for California. January 2014 was also in the top ten of coldest Januaries on record for much of the upper Midwest.

Extreme drought conditions in the western U.S. are dramatically impacting water supplies critical to agriculture and elevating fire risk across our National Forests. Across the continent frequent cold waves have repeatedly threatened winter crops across the Southeast while frost depths reaching several feet will impact springtime planting across the Midwest. This kind of winter gets everyone talking about the weather.  It brings to mind the quote “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” often attributed to Mark Twain (but apparently said by a friend).

Celebrate Extension's Centennial by Sharing Your Extension Story!

One hundred years ago, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, expanding on the federal government’s partnership with the Land-Grant University System to create the Cooperative Extension System. This is 100 years of Extension making a positive impact in the lives of Americans.

Today, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with more than 100 land-grant universities in pursuit of openness, accessibility and service through Cooperative Extension. NIFA’s support of Extension allows these universities to take their science and knowledge to the local level – to the farmers, ranchers, families and consumers who need it most.

Supporting the Next Generation of Agriculture

All universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation’s more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities, have a third critical mission—extension.  “Extension” means “reaching out,” and—along with teaching and research—land-grant institutions extend their resources, solving public needs with college or university resources through non-formal, non-credit programs.

These programs are largely administered through thousands of county and regional extension offices, which bring land-grant expertise to the most local of levels.  And both the universities and their local offices are supported by NIFA, the federal partner in the Cooperative Extension System (CES).