Saturday, September 20, 2014

State budget cuts could harm extension services, 4-H program

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 7/2/2013

State budget cuts to higher education could be trickling down to regional extension programs, local extension officials said.

Frontier Extension District 11, which serves Franklin County, is a service of Kansas State University that offers educational programs to the public, Fran Richmond, district extension director, said. Depending on how the university deals with recent budget cuts handed down from the state Legislature depends on how it could affect the extension programs, she said.

State budget cuts to higher education could be trickling down to regional extension programs, local extension officials said.

Frontier Extension District 11, which serves Franklin County, is a service of Kansas State University that offers educational programs to the public, Fran Richmond, district extension director, said. Depending on how the university deals with recent budget cuts handed down from the state Legislature depends on how it could affect the extension programs, she said.

“We’re in the process of building budgets now. We just don’t know how it will affect us,” Richmond said. “[The university] doesn’t exactly know what their budget is at the state level. [Budget cuts] will eventually trickle down to our office and some support services to us.”

The Frontier district consists of two counties, Osage and Franklin, she said. Until more information is available, Richmond said, she has to plan the extension service’s budget for the status quo.

“We’ve been told to build our budgets like we normally would,” she said. “But much of our support comes directly from tax dollars in the district and some from Kansas State University, and that’s the part we don’t know yet — how much that’s going to affect.”

The extension service has been around for many years, Richmond said, but Osage and Franklin counties didn’t become the Frontier district until 2010.

“We’re about education, and we deliver it into non-biased, research-based education from the university to people in our district in four main areas — agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth and development and community development,” she said. “Education is delivered in a variety of forms like radio, public meetings, newsletters, workshops, presentations to schools, literature, day care provider clinics and education through our 4-H department.”

If budget cuts make their way down to local extension services, Richmond said, she’s not sure what that could mean for the future of the many youths in the district’s 4-H program.

“We have a traditional 4-H program and we have about 500 4-H’ers in the district,” she said. “They are members of community clubs with community leaders, and the education is delivered through project meetings and camps and various trips and experiential activities.”

The extension service provides many educational services to Kansas including the Family Nutrition Program, the extension’s website said. The program offers nutrition education for Kansans of all ages who receive or are eligible to receive food stamps. Family Nutrition Program is implemented by Kansas State Research and Extension with the sponsorship of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the website.

“We provide lots of education services to the community,” Richmond said. “It’s services that people need to have healthier families. We have a lot of programs we do to help families and communities be happier, healthier, safer and to grow.”

Richmond encourages people to come in and see what services and programs the district offers. The extension service has offices at 1418 S. Main St. Suite 2, Ottawa, and 128 W. 15th St., Lyndon. Residents also may call the Ottawa office at (785) 229-3520 or the Lyndon office at (785) 828-4438.

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