Michigan State University’s Extension program really covers it all. Whether you’re a business or farm owner, municipal leader or educator, gardener or outdoor enthusiast, volunteer or parent/guardian, our state’s Extension program offers fact-based information from experts in the field through their website or print bulletins. In today’s world, where unbiased information can be challenging to find, this service is especially valuable.

Locally, Extension offers in-person services and programs that reach residents close to home, school and work too. The breadth of that reach is made evident in recent District 10 reports that include statistics from Lapeer and St. Clair counties. Those reports indicate that Extension programming helps thousands of area residents, both youth and adults, and their economic impact on local communities can be valued in the tens of millions of dollars every year.

Oftentimes Extension is the organizing force behind events and it’s common for them to partner with other agencies to bring important programs to the public. Oftentimes, Extension educators are who businesses, schools and non-profits turn to when they have a problem to solve or issue to address. District Director Jerry Johnson notes in the report that the fact that Extension staff typically live in the same communities where they work make them rooted in the community and responsive to its needs and he’s right. Every spot on the map is unique and what might work in Attica won’t fit the bill in Alpena.

Their ability to offer specialized training or seminars on an as-needed basis is pretty unique and can present a significant cost savings for those groups they help.

Fortunately, attending Extension seminars or workshops usually cost the public little or nothing. At most, it’s a small fee for materials or lunch. Likewise, Extension experts conduct all kinds of studies and trials and freely share that information at no cost to the users. Our tax dollars—both county and state—make these services possible but it seems rather obvious that we see a sizeable return on our investment in the form of a healthier, well-informed and empowered citizenry.