With the national budget a constant debate in the U.S. House and Senate, I can't help but be troubled about the loss of some of our research funds. I think that this is a perfect time to tell the taxpayers about what the Extension Service does for them. A great article was published recently on the importance of Extension: : http://southeastfarmpress.com/government/seven-reasons-why-extension-needed-today - and it's a great summarization of how we as specialists and agents help our community members to be more productive.
My favorite points in this article are that Extension Service personnel are synergists and collaborators. We are tasked with cultivating partnerships and forging new partnerships by networking and bringing industry members together to be more successful. I have been part of several workshops where we have gathered input from industry members and have turned it into important research proposals and projects. This is by far the most rewarding part of being an applied research scientist; we work to help growers stay in agriculture.
Collaboration is essential for the success of any industry, and the burgeoning peach industry in Florida is a key beneficiary of collaboration among government agencies, universities, private companies, and growers. Extension personnel are often at the table when key agricultural issues are being discussed, especially as we in the State of Florida talk about implementing Best Management Practices for our specialty crops. Growers are a key collaborating partner for University Extension. In fact, I love collaborating with growers to showcase on-farm demonstrations of new production techniques - because if any one method to encourage adoption of new techniques is better than others, it is by seeing another growers' success using the new techniques.
I am sure that our elected officials will work through this great economic challenge for our country; I am hopeful that our communities will notice little difference in how state extension agencies operate. I hope that I can continue to serve my state and university in all aspects of applied research for the future, because simply, I love extension.
Mercy Olmstead, Ph.D.