What Is Cooperative Extension?

I often get asked the question: “Where do you work?” It’s not as simple an answer as for most.  I start by saying that I work for NC State University and for Sampson County, for North Carolina Cooperative Extension.  Then I get the question: “What is Cooperative Extension”?  With this said, I thought it might be nice to give an overview of what we do at Cooperative Extension in Sampson County, and who we are.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension offers services to residents of our state and the 100 counties in it through resources provided by federal, state, and local government.  “Extension” offices are found in each of the counties of NC.  Our employees and staff work for not only the county in which we reside, but also one of two land-grant universities of North Carolina, specifically North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.

I won’t go into all of the history and details of Cooperative Extension, but will say that the Morrill Act of 1862 began the creation of land grant colleges and universities and then the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created what we know as Cooperative Extension, which then gave a means for these colleges to disseminate information and education to each county of the state to farmers and homemakers.  So, as you can see, Cooperative Extension has been around 100 years!  We have grown and changed to meet more needs of local citizens as times have changed, but our mission of bringing research-based information to the counties from our land grant universities has remained.

What do we offer to Sampson County you ask?  The following programs are where we spend much of our time, but there is always more that fills the gaps.

Family and  Consumer Sciences:  The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for limited resource families to receive nutritional education and improve their diet, the Senior Health Insurance Information Program assists seniors with decisions and counseling on Medicare benefits, Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less is a weight management program where Extension partners with the Sampson County Health and Wellness Center.  There are additional Extension and Community Association activities and other health and wellness activities provided for youth groups.

4-H and Youth Development:
Community Clubs and activities, livestock education, teen court and restitution, substance abuse prevention, agricultural education, gardening, enrichment and leadership programs.

Agriculture:
Our office provides educational workshops and events for livestock and poultry producers, field crop and produce growers, gardeners, beekeepers, the green industry and pesticide applicators.  We additionally coordinate and assist with the county Beaver Management Assistance Program, the Voluntary Agricultural District Program, the Master Gardener Program, the Friends of Agriculture and Friends of Horticulture.

Our typical day might include a farm or home visit, a classroom educational event or an outdoor field day, a multi-county conference, phone or email advice on any of the program areas mentioned above, a media interview on a pressing issue, or a visit to a school or a senior center.  On any given day you will most likely find much of our Extension staff buzzing around getting ready for an event or in the middle of hosting a workshop or event, whether it be on or off-site.  Most of our services and events are free of charge, while some may have a minor charge to cover expenses.

I wanted to highlight what we do for anyone that might not know, or might need a refresher on what our office and staff has to offer the residents of Sampson County.  Feel free to call on us and find out how we can help you  at 910-592-7161 or stop by our office on Highway 421, just one mile south of Clinton.  Events and more information on who we are and what we do can be found on our website as well, which is http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/sampson.  Please stop by, email or call us if we can be of service to you.