If you think that university extension services are just for farmers, think again. In fact, much of the work done by extension experts at Mississippi State and Alcorn State universities is helpful not just to those on the farm but to those on Main Street, too.
You just have to turn on your television or your radio to see for yourself how extension reaches out to educate consumers and farmers about the issues important to them. Farmweek, a television show produced by MSU Extension and the Mississippi Public Broadcasting, explores food, gardening, trade, markets, and other agriculture topics that impact the health and well-being of the public as well as the financial well-being of the farmer. Radio shows such as Farm and Family and Southern Gardening, also sponsored by MSU Extension, provide practical information for consumers as well.
“Extension makes cutting-edge agricultural research accessible to the public in a timely fashion,” says Dalton McAfee, the extension administrator at Alcorn State. “It’s a way to increase knowledge, skills, and even income for farmers and families and to support the efforts of individuals and communities to improve their quality of life.”
McAfee says that Mississippi extension services focus on several areas. For instance, agriculture and natural resources services provide assistance to small farmers in the production, marketing, and management of their crops. Water quality services educate communities to conservation practices. There are also programs that focus on improving health by teaching families about fresh produce, community gardening, and container gardens as well as nutrition and physical fitness.
“We have three teams that go out into communities and work with churches and other organizations to deliver this information efficiently and effectively,” he says.
MSU Extension covers many of the same topics, delivering information via their website and other media, as well as through direct outreach to farm and consumer audiences. They have programs that focus on providing the latest information on a variety of agriculture industries, such as aquaculture, poultry, crops and horticulture, forestry, the environment, and farm safety and management.
And both extension services reach out to Mississippi youth through the 4-H program, which provides a variety of leadership and educational opportunities to assist young people in making good decisions, fostering opportunity, and encouraging citizenship.
“Extension is a partnership,” says McAfee. “Together with MSU we work to address the needs of Mississippi families and farmers. We want to make a difference in improving the quality of life for all Mississippians.”