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Adams County Extension Office avoids shutdown

(3/28) The Adams County Penn State Cooperative Extension office avoided an impending closure due to lack of funding when the General Assembly passed a supplemental funding package, which restored funding for schools, Penn State Extension, Animal Health Commission and agricultural diagnostic laboratories, which the Governor line-item vetoed in December.

While the Governor continued his refusal to support funding these institutions, he nevertheless allowed the funding to become law. The effort to restore funding was championed by Senator Alloway and Representatives Dan Moul and Will Talman. Adams County Commissioners Randy Phiel, Jim Martin and Marty Qually actively supported their efforts. All expressed concern on the potential economic impact on Adams County if funding was not restored.

Within Penn State Extension there are a variety of agricultural related programs that serve the community such as the Master Gardeners, 4H Youth Development, Community and Economic Development, Nutrition and Health, tree fruit and vegetable education and research. These programs and their corresponding research have provided farmers with the most advanced variety of scientific and technological knowledge and farming techniques, and continue to be a major contributor in improvement of both production efficiency and environmental quality on farms. Research stations, such as the Fruit Research and Extension Center in upper Adams County, which are responsible for invaluable research to the fruit industry, also faced the danger of being shut down.

Within Adams County, the Master Gardener Program is instrumental in providing horticulture related education to Adams County. Completely volunteer based, Master Gardeners have a horticulture hot line and answer public questions via phone calls, emails, and walk-ins. Each year, the Master Gardeners present several educational series related to gardening, environmental issues, pollinators etc. They maintain and use the demonstration gardens, pollinator gardens, native plant and rain gardens located at the Extension office to educate the public about gardening and horticulture. Master Gardeners donít exclusively work to teach adults, they also educate children about the importance of agriculture, sustainability, pollinators and horticulture.

Critical research issues such as Avian Influenza, Food Safety Modernization Act Implementation and assessing agricultural BMPs in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed were all threatened with being shutdown as a result of Extension programs being shut down.

If the supplemental budget had not passed and funding not been restored to the universitiesí agricultural programs Pennsylvania would have become known as the first state in the nation to abandon its land grant mission which has been 150 years in the making. In addition, 1,100 Extension jobs will have be lost, 90,000 children would have lost access to leadership development, 92,340 members and 9,556 volunteers for 4H and the Master Gardener programs would have be eliminated, and 67 Extension offices would have close, eliminating vital programs and services for consumers and farmers.

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