By Stephanie Camden
"I have the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and to teach them life lessons along the way," says Stephanie Faroh, a Purdue Extension health and human science educator. "A career with Extension means you are a part of a large family and community-oriented team who shares research and knowledge to better our lives."
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 began a system of cooperative extension services that partnered up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the land-grant universities in each state. This federal law is a link for research to be given to the people from the universities through the use of Extension Educators in each county across the nation.
Early on, Purdue University offered a "ride and learn" opportunity that allowed individuals to hear Educators talk about proper ways to grow and preserve foods, as well as food safety while riding a train across communities in Indiana. Things that were being taught back then by Educators are still being incorporated today in the lessons and programs the Extension services offer.
There are four main areas that comprise the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service program: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health and Human Sciences, Economic and Community Development, and 4-H Youth Development.
These services provide practical information and expertise to their local communities in many different forms.
Faroh, the HHS educator from Kosciusko County, is busy throughout the year bringing relevant, researched-based information regarding health, foods and nutrition, family resource management and human development to her community. She provides the information through lessons, classes, written articles, radio and television spots, and by answering community questions.
"HHS educators also help to oversee the Nutrition Education Program in many counties, which is funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education," Faroh mentions. The Nutrition Education Programs increase the ability of individuals and families with limited resources to utilize their food dollars and food stamps appropriately.
Many HHS Educators work closely with the different health coalitions in their communities. "By creating and maintaining these networks in their communities, educators can reach many more members of their community and be sure to share their knowledge and skills with those who need it," Faroh says.
Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator Bryan Overstreet from Jasper County helps his county by hosting trainings for farm groups, specifically farm lease programs. He also teaches youth about gardening and how to grow their own gardens.
Weed management is especially important with ANR Educators as they need to help identify and explain ways to control the weed problems impacting farms and gardens in the county.
Educators have teams of specialists and educators who can provide research-based and unbiased answers to questions. Having the knowledge and resources of Purdue University at their fingertips, as well as knowing the local issues, Extension Educators can be an asset to counties across the U.S.
Camden is a senior in Ag Communications at Purdue University