In today’s challenging economic environment, news of budgetary concerns in state and local governments is commonplace.
As an employee of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, I have seen firsthand how such cuts have affected Cooperative Extension. Over the last 18 months, UGA Extension has been cut about 19 percent. While such cuts are difficult for the organization, they are equally problematic for our clients.
In these times of fewer resources, Cooperative Extension has ramped up its efforts to make university research-based information more accessible to the public. One effective tool which does just that is eXtension, an interactive learning environment delivering science-based knowledge from land-grant universities across America.
EXtension is unlike any other search engine or information-based Web site. It’s a space where university content providers gather, collaborate and produce new educational and informational resources on wide-ranging topics. Because it’s available to everyone, at any time, from any Internet connection, eXtension helps solve real-life problems in real time.
Here are some of eXtension’s features:
- It is the collaborative effort of more than 70 of America’s most respected universities across the country to provide objective, peer-reviewed, science-based information and programs from universities, research centers and related industry experts through the nation’s oldest university system.
- It is easily accessible and provides information customized and localized information through any Internet–ready device.
The site allows anyone to access the information available on topics such as agriculture, health, foods and nutrition, environment, energy, finances, caregiving, parenting, horticulture, water and fire ants, just to name a few.
- eXtension offers a searchable knowledge base of Frequently Asked Questions and Ask an Expert categories with national experts answering questions.
- It includes online chats, discussion groups, webinars, local contacts, interaction, fact sheets, educational modules and certifications.
eXtension can be found using social media on You Tube, in Second Life, through blogs and via Moodle, Twitter and Facebook.
The site is staffed with faculty and staff from land-grant universities, who can help locally to supplement the information provided by eXtension.
It works with USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Defense and partners with many other federal agencies, corporations, organizations and associations.
Next time you are looking for information in the areas of agriculture, horticulture, environment, family and consumer science or 4-H and youth development, take a minute and visit www.eXtension.org. You’ll be glad you did.
Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.