The United States extension system is a nationwide educational network located in every state and territory; having an office at it's land-grant university and possibly a network of local or regional offices located throughout the state. These offices are staffed by one or more experts or agents who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.
Click the state for extension information.
You might have been told to contact your local cooperative extension office at one time or another. If so, when someone recommends that you contact your local office with a gardening question, more than likely you will be talking with a Master Gardener Volunteer although there is usually an agriculture and horticulture agent available. Master Gardener volunteers are interviewed for the program and once accepted, they are trained by Extension and University Staff as well as local horticulture professionals in many facets of horticulture including: taxonomy, plant pathology, entomology, cultural growing requirements, integrated pest management, wildlife control and much more.
Once a Master Gardener trainee completes their classroom training they are required to volunteer a designated amount of hours back to the Cooperative Extension program by answering questions on the phone and at fairs and festivals, speaking to groups, participating in display gardens and other projects as needed in their service area.
Some of the services provided at your local office, often for free or a nominal charge, are:
- Soil testing
- Fact Sheets on cultural requirements, diseases and pests
- Information on Frost Dates
- Plant Recommendations by Area
- Wildlife Deterrent Info
Most agricultural extension offices also have hours when you can bring in a sample of your plant problem or garden insect for identification. To locate your local office just click on your state on the map above. Most local and regional office now have their own web sites and can tell you what services they offer and maybe even how you can become a Master Gardener for your area.
The Cooperative Extension Service’s unique strength comes from its grass-roots beginning—a presence in every county—and the committment to community-based educational programming. Meeting residents’ educational needs continues to serve as the cornerstone of the organization. Educators and specialists in offices in each county share their knowledge and experience to help meet the challenges facing citizens and communities. The extension office opens its doors and its resources to each resident of their respective state. The organizational structure strengthens the three-way federal, state, and county partnership.