New to Extension? Resources for New Volunteers
Welcome to UMaine Extension in Kennebec County! Volunteers are the heart of what we do. Below is a narrative explaining UMaine Extension with additional resources linked for an expanded story, as well as an ‘At a Glance’ section at the bottom of this page. UMaine Extension is vast, with a deep history, and an exciting future, we’re glad you’re part of it!
A Welcome from the UMaine Extension Executive Director:
To understand the Cooperative Extension System (USDA/About the Extension) is to understand its cooperative funding and outreach structure from national, state, and county levels (see Origins of Cooperative Extension page).
From the top, Extension is administrated through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Smith-Lever Act formalized Extension in 1914, establishing USDA’s partnership with land-grant universities to apply research and provide education in agriculture. Cooperative Extension has a rich history (USDA/Cooperative Extension History) rooted in agriculture and community.
The land-grant universities work with local county governments to support Extension Services in reaching local populations with research and programs based on local needs. Extension continues to serve the needs of the community, rural to urban, so Extension may look different from county to county and state to state depending on local, 21st Century needs.
Maine Food Systems encompasses many facets of food, by providing ongoing research-based education and resources to Maine’s farmers and communities. Here is a snapshot of these programs: assisting new and established farmers, soil and plant research, pest management, home gardening; food preservation; the Maine Compost School; Eat Well Nutrition Education; Harvest for Hunger; FoodCorps; natural resources and environment; parenting education; and, safety and preparedness.
Free online resources for farmers and community members, developed by the Maine Food Systems, can be found readily through the UMaine Extension YouTube Channel and through our online publications. Ongoing online Extension webinar series are also offered nationally on a variety of topics.
4-H is the youth-serving component of the Cooperative Extension. 4-H programs create the largest youth-serving organization worldwide with pillar programs of Science & Agriculture, Healthy Living, and Citizenship. This is a volunteer-driven community program serving youth ages 5-18. Maine 4-H also hosts three Camps and Learning Centers to better engage young people in environmental and science education.
More About 4-H:
Resources at a Glance:
- Origins of Cooperative Extension
- Two-Page Overview of Extension (PDF)
- Programs of UMaine Cooperative Extension Food Systems
- Understanding 4-H
- Free Online UMaine Publications
- UMaine Extension YouTube Channel
- Extension System Free Webinars
- Program-Special & Volunteer Resources: County Executive Committee Toolkit