This article coincides with the April 9, 2019 BOCC AGENDA ITEM:
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICES DIRECTOR JIM DAVIS- Update Regarding Cooperative Extension Services and University of Florida Extension Hernando County 2018 Annual Report
During recent budget talks, county staff and the Board of County Commissioners have considered various areas where funding could be cut in order to help eliminate the $11 million general fund shortfall for the current fiscal year (2019). The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program has been mentioned as one area where funding could be cut.
Jim Davis, Cooperative Extension Services Director and Nancy Moores, the UF/IFAS 4H extension agent provided several economic benefits the program has brought to the area during their update to the Board of County Commissioners. Davis stated that UF/IFAS program has provided over $1,960,700 in economic benefit back to Hernando County with awarded grants and in-kind contributions. In 2017-18, Hernando spent about 37 cents on the dollar to have a UF/IFAS Extension program in the county.
UF/IFAS agents provide services such as pest diagnostics, training on pesticide applications, and other agricultural resources. According to Davis, JG Ranch, reached over 200 local students and residents in agricultural education in which UF/IFAS agents participated.
UF/IFAS has plans to form a teaching lab unique to Hernando County. The purpose of the lab will be to train new agents, provide inservices and to provide faster, more advanced testing and diagnostics for area growers.
The UF extension also provides the local 4H program Agent Nancy Moores presented highlights of her program, which includes youths training dogs through an agility and exercise course. After a short video, Moores explained that the dogs shown came to 4H overweight, and suffering from poor nutrition and stamina. The dogs are now at a healthy weight, and are able to exercise normally. As well, the children participating are not sitting in front of screens, and learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Moores reported that volunteers provide approximately $602,000 worth of services to the county. The program has received $105,552 in in-kind donations and $44,212 in monetary donations.
Other programs provided by UF/IFAS include the Master Gardener, Florida Master Money Mentor, and Project Look Ahead (youth financial and life skills).
UF/IFAS also heads the International Coastal Cleanup.
Editor's Note: UF/IFAS staff members are regular contributors to the Hernando Sun, sharing their knowledge and expertise with our readers on a weekly basis. We just covered the Brooksville Senior FFA (BSFFA) Agriscience Fair last week, where Nancy Moores explains the partnership between FFA and 4H programs, enhancing agricultural opportunities for our youth. https://www.hernandosun.com/article/agriscience-fair-promotes-next-generation-agricultural-innovators The 2019 Hernando County Youth Livestock Show during the Hernando County Fair is taking place April 12-20, 2019 and provides an excellent opportunity to see the incredible work and dedication of Hernando's 4-H and BSFFA members. http://www.hernandofairgrounds.com/fairitinerary.htm