What is Cooperative Extension?
Cooperative extension is a nationwide educational network that brings research and knowledge of landgrant institutions to people in their homes, workplaces and communities. The mission of the Cooperative Extension System is to disseminate research-based information on various topics, such as: nutrition, agriculture, small business, youth development and personal finance.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) replaced the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service in 2009, with all authority transferring to NIFA, as declared in the 2008 Farm Bill. As the federal partner in the Cooperative Extension System, NIFA provides funding in order to advance knowledge for the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education and extension programs in the Landgrant University System and other partner organizations.
Each state and U.S. territory has an extension office at its landgrant university and a network of local or regional offices. There are nearly 3,150 extensive offices across the nation and 105 landgrant colleges and universities.
Extension staff provides practical and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes. These community educators respond to public inquiries and conduct informal, noncredit workshops and other educational events.
CAUSES and the UDC Cooperative Extension Programs
The University of the District of Columbia is the nation’s only urban landgrant university. The community outreach programs of the Cooperative Extension System fall under CAUSES, where they coexist with the academic programs. Therefore, CAUSES offers a wide range of programs that serve individuals and organizations in our community and beyond.
This means that the community is our classroom. CAUSES prides itself on being connected to people and places right here in our own neighborhoods and to those halfway around the world. Today’s job market is increasingly global and knowledge-based, so CAUSES is a huge advocate for integration. Our programs are interdisciplinary and work together and teach and make an impact by way of connectivity and innovation.
As such, the CAUSES mission is to offer research-based academic and community outreach programs that improve the quality of life and economic opportunity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation and the world.
The CAUSES vision is to be a world leader in designing and implementing top quality, research-based academic and community outreach programs that measurably improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation, and the world.
Many of cooperative extension services are offered through the CAUSES landgrant centers. Combined, in 2013 the Centers offered close to 10,000 workshops, demonstrations and events for more than 30,000 participants, operated in over 60 DC schools and more than 20 faith communities, worked with 4,000 community volunteers and recorded 300,000 interactions with people in all eight Wards of the District of Columbia. Our landgrant centers consist of:
The Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education offers research and community education in urban food production, gardening, urban forestry and works closely with the Department of Public Works and the Department of Parks and Recreation. Programs include Master Gardening Classes, invasive species abatement, soil testing and ethnic crop production.
The Center for Sustainable Development focuses on research and education in the areas of green job creation and green infrastructure. This includes small business start ups, green technology, water, soil and air quality management. They offer programs such as green entrepreneurship education and low-impact development workshops.
The Water Research Resources Institute is a separate program under the Center for Sustainable Development and helps to provide the analytical capacity for D.C. to improve water infrastructure management and analyses through its Environmental Quality Testing Lab. WRRI is in the process of securing EPA lab certification and is home to the Summer Bridge Program in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, for high-school and incoming college students.
The Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health is the largest of the extension services. CNDH has programs which improve the health and wellness of District residents by focusing on preventive health through nutrition, age appropriate diet, exercise and food safety. Programs include Food Handler Certification, youth cooking classes and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (Snap Ed).
The Institute of Gerontology falls under CNDH and focuses specifically on the health and wellness of the District’s senior residents. Programs include Senior Companion/Respite Aid, Bodywise and the In-home helper program. These programs are so popular, participants often must first be placed on a waiting list.
The Center for 4-H and Youth Development provides youth programs which improve life and academic skills for D.C. youth between the ages of 5 and 21. Programs include Environmentors, Life Smarts Consumer Education for Teens, Operation Military Kids and Summer Camp.
The Architectural Research Institute provides real life experience to UDC’s Architecture students. ARI collaborates closely with the District Department of Housing and Community Development to design and renovate buildings that serve low-income communities and residents. Programs include building rehabilitation, lead abatement workshops and construction project management.