Before the party can begin, we need to know what we are celebrating.
Extension is a partnership between federal, state, and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. The University of Florida and Florida A&M University administer the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
The mission of the Extension office is developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources and the life sciences and making that knowledge accessible to sustain and enhance the quality of human life.
It all began with the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. It provided funding for outreach endeavors at the land grant universities founded by the Morrill Act of 1862.
The act was introduced by Sen. Hoke Smith of Georgia and Rep. A.F. Lever of South Carolina to expand the vocational, agricultural, and home demonstration programs in rural America. The act requires that states provide a 100 percent match for nonfederal resources. The act also authorizes special Extension projects.
Some people in our community are unaware of all the ways Extension can help them. Improving agriculture, educating youth through 4-H, protecting natural resources, conserving water, managing invasive pests, promoting food safety and nutrition, educating gardeners, and overcoming natural disasters are just some of the ways that the Extension office serves our community.
The UF/IFAS Extension has helped many Floridians by providing the latest information and research and converting it into practical knowledge that we can use every day.
Many people believe the Extension office is only for the farmers, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The UF/IFAS Florida Cooperative Extension Service has delivered science-based information to foster healthy people, a healthy environment, and a healthy economy for 100 years. That's not just for farmers. We could all stand to be healthier and more economically sound.
According to the UF/IFAS roadmaps, for about the last 50 years, Florida's economy was based on growth, tourism and agriculture. Today, our population has stabilized, but the need continues for new information on food and fiber production, water conservation, natural resource protection, alternative energy and conservation, community resource development, and individual and family well-being.
One of the biggest impacts that the Extension office has on our community is through 4-H. According to the 4-H website, there are 540,000 volunteers, 3,500 professionals and more than 60 million alumni across the country.
The 4-H movement supports young people from elementary school through high school with programs designed to shape future leaders and innovators. 4-H'ers engage in hands-on learning activities in the area of science, citizenship and healthy living.
With a history and an expansive network reaching every corner of the country, 4-H is the nation's largest youth development organization. There are more than 6 million 4-H youth in urban neighborhoods, suburban schoolyards and rural farming communities. They stand out among their peers by making an impact in their communities.
So join with me as we celebrate all the accomplishments of Extension offices over the last 100 years. We look forward to the future and finding solutions to the challenges we will face over the next 100 years. I know that they will strive to make our lives healthier, happier, and more prosperous. Happy birthday, Florida Extension!