During the month of May, Utah State University Extension joins land-grant universities across the nation to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the Cooperative Extension Service. Extension is a unique educational partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation’s land-grant universities that extends university-based research and knowledge to the public. In Utah, there are 33 USU Extension offices that serve every county.
One of Extension’s mandates is to deliver 4-H youth programs in each state and trust territory, including programs in agriculture and home economics as well as robotics, science camps, maker camps, GPS and more.
As Extension prepares to launch into the next century, its tie with 4-H was strengthened through a recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) showing united support for positive youth development. The memorandum was signed by representatives from Cooperative Extension, USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and National 4-H Council in Washington, D.C., on May 8, the same day Cooperative Extension was established nationwide through the land-grant university system 100 years ago. The purpose of the MOU is to encourage collaborative and enhanced communication and management of national 4-H policies and procedures that affect state and local programming.
Charles Gay, former associate vice president for USU Extension, was chair of the committee that came up with the new strategy for how the Cooperative Extension System should work with its partners, USDA-NIFA and National 4-H Council. National 4-H Council is a non-profit foundation created to develop financial support for 4-H programs offered by Cooperative Extension. The MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities of each party and states the collaborative process.
“The MOU was a long time in the making,” said Gay. “The process started three years ago and the document was revised many times. I presented a draft to the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy last year. It was approved unanimously and, since I was retiring soon, turned over to a different chair and committee to refine and negotiate with our partners for a document that all could agree on and sign.”
Gay said having a written document that clearly defines how the partners will work together to grow and improve 4-H programs for youth is critical when working with donor funding.
“This agreement should help the partners provide enhanced, new and exciting programs to young people across the country,” he said.
At the ceremonies in Washington, D.C., a flag bearer was in attendance representing each land-grant university. Brian Higginbotham, associate vice president for USU Extension, was the flag bearer for Utah.
“It was an honor to represent Utah at the Extension centennial celebration and to be with Chuck Gay at this historic MOU signing” said Higginbotham.
Contact: Charles Gay, 435-770-1992, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Julene Reese, 435-797-0810, email@example.com