100 Years of Extension—Great, But What Is “Extension”?

This newsletter and the WSU Extension Forestry program are among the array of services that Washington State University Extension provides to the public.  But what is Extension, why does it exist, and how does it work?

Washington State University (WSU) is one of two designated land-grant universities in Washington (the other is Northwest Indian College in Bellingham). The land-grant system was established by Congress in the 1800s to provide better higher education opportunities for working classes. Building on this mission of providing greater public accessibility to university resources, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established the nationwide Cooperative Extension Service as part of the land-grant system.

WSU Extension - 100 yearsWSU Extension is a three-way partnership between the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Washington State University, and local county governments. WSU Extension has offices in every county in Washington. Each local office offers a different mix of local programs that may include agriculture, gardening, community and economic development, health and wellness, youth and families, and natural resource stewardship. Agriculture, Master Gardeners, Livestock Advisors, Beach Watchers, 4-H, and Forestry are examples of specific programs offered by WSU Extension around the state.

The WSU Extension Forestry program provides educational workshops, tours, online training, publications, newsletters, and individual consultation on a variety of subjects, including forestry, wildlife, and other natural resources. Extension educators and specialists are WSU faculty members who are stationed at local county Extension offices. Many, but not all, counties in Washington are served by a Forestry Extension faculty.

For additional information about WSU Extension resources in your county, please contact your local county Extension office. Information on all WSU County Extension offices, as well as other federal, state, and local forestry agencies and services, is available in a directory of services for forest landowners that we update regularly.

Public education through Extension programs is part of the land grant university system nationwide. In addition to all of the resources available on the WSU Extension website, you can also plug into the entire national Extension network through a website called eXtension, which has a vast array of resources for foresters, farmers, communities, even homeowners.

Kevin Zobrist, Regional Extension Forestry Specialist