By Rick Thomason
March is Extension Month in Tennessee. Extension is a national educational program supported by USDA through the nation’s land-grant universities and administered with funding from state and local governments in Tennessee through offices in each of the state’s 95 counties. County Extension offices across the state are planning various celebrations and commemorations for the state’s 108-year-old Extension program. The Johnson County office will be having an open house on Thursday, March 22nd from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. We will be grilling hotdogs and have all the fixings, so make plan to stop by and visit with us. The office is located at 212 College Street in Mountain City beside the Mountain City Post Office.
An integral part of the land-grant mission, Extension programs are delivered by subject-matter specialists, county agents and volunteers associated with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and the Tennessee State University (TSU) College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. “Extension Month celebrates the educational outreach, service and economic impact achieved by Extension across the state. I am always encouraged and proud to hear how our county offices use this month to reach new clientele and increase the visibility of Extension,” wrote Robert Burns, dean of UT Extension, in a letter to faculty and staff.
Latif Lighari oversees TSU Extension faculty as associate dean for Extension at TSU. In addition to the traditional agricultural production recommendations available through county Extension offices, services for all citizens include the state’s award-winning 4-H youth development program including its summer youth camps; family and consumer educational programs; and healthy living courses. UT Extension also performs services for the state’s citizens, including managing the statewide Soil, Plant and Pest Center through which clients can have the quality of their soil and forage analyzed and any insect pest or plant diseases identified.
Extension also trains clients in the proper use of pesticides and even operates commercially-certified kitchens where small-scale vendors can prepare food items for sale while meeting state guidelines for food safety. Extension’s programs can be seen in Tennessee as an excellent investment of public resources. The statewide educational programs in 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences and community economic development are estimated to have impacted the state’s economy by more than $575 million from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. This amounts to a return of investment of $8.65 for every $1 in public funds invested in Extension in Tennessee.
Contact your local county Extension Office for more information about programs available in your county. Many of UT Extension’s educational resources are also available online. From the UT Extension website choose the link to “publications” and enter the topic for which you need information. The search engine will generate a list of resources. Most are available free of charge. A publications page is also available on the TSU website, which includes a list of available publications by program area.