The extension I'm referring to is none of the above. It's the University of Illinois Extension. It's a valuable program that reaches out to many, many counties in Illinois. I've been personally involved with plenty of Extension work in my home county, and feel very strongly about the benefits of the Extension programs offered there.
First off, the Extension Office is generally where 4-H is run from. Your community clubs are part of a collective county group. The county group (and the community clubs) all report to individuals who work for the Extension in Youth and Development (or a similar area).
Alright, so, you may have heard of 4-H. It's not some big secret. In fact, it's a fairly well-known organization. But what about other Extension programs? Well, the Extension actually does a lot.
Illinois Extension programs also fit into the areas of agriculture outreach, horticulture, education, nutrition, natural resources & environment, community development, and energy sources. Special clinics, conventions, training sessions, meetings, and clubs are all run to fit these various interests in different ways.
The U of I Extension is a fabulous group. Our county office is directly involved in a lot of agricultural education, where local children are taught about and exposed to the most pivotal industry of their county. The folks at the Kankakee County Extension also hold gardening and home-improvement clinics at least once a month. Their youth programs keep kids out of trouble, and help direct their attention to career development and community service.
Local agriculture programs through the extension include manure management clinics, crop advisory, private applicator training, diagnostics clinics, and pesticide safety groups. They are also part of a network of Illinois livestock-raiser support organizations.
Adults and children alike can benefit from the placement of an Extension program. As far as I know, every state has some extension based from some state school. Every state can benefit from this lovely model. Unfortunately, funding for many state extension programs, (especially Illinois) have been funded. The best way to fight back is to educate yourself and let the legislators know where you'd like your hard-earned money to go.
Don't let extensions die. Don't let the opportunities they have to offer pass by, either. If you (or your children) would like to get involved in the community, contact your local extension. For more information on Illinois extension programs, see University of Illinois Extension website here. If you're curious to see a discussion regarding it join #agchat on Twitter at 7 p.m. Central. Later on, archives of the discussion can be found here.