The West Virginia University Extension Service provides outreach and public service programs to West Virginians statewide. WVU is a land-grant university, one of the educational institutions established in all the states and supported in part through the proceeds from the sale of public lands owned by the federal government. The land-grant institutions, first authorized by the 1862 Morrill Act, must meet certain service requirements. Since the 1914 Smith-Lever Act, these requirements include the operation of a state cooperative extension service. The WVU Extension Service now receives funds from various sources, including federal appropriations and grants, state appropriations, county commissions, county boards of education, other local government agencies, user fees, and the private sector.
The service has evolved from an organization concerned mainly with agriculture and home economics to one that also works to address economic, natural resource, workplace safety, and youth development issues. Its programs include the popular 4-H Clubs.
Every county has a WVU Extension agent, who faces a diverse agenda in the modern era. Whereas the bulk of an agent’s time once was spent on coordinating the 4-H program and assisting farmers with livestock and crop problems, today’s agents are involved in county economic development activities, grant writing, work force development, child care and parenting programs, exercise and nutrition programs, and after-school activities. During a typical day an agent might attend a 4-H meeting, visit an area garden and provide advice on insecticides and fertilizer, attend an economic development meeting, spend some time researching and writing a grant proposal for a county agency, conduct an exercise class for seniors, and assist with an after-school program. County agents continue to help farmers improve productivity and help landowners use natural resources more wisely.
The Extension Service is headquartered at WVU in Morgantown and operates the WVU Jackson’s Mill conference center and state 4-H camp, located near Weston. Historically serving as a central gathering place for youth participating in 4-H events and camps, Jackson’s Mill has expanded its mission to include a variety of meetings and conferences, Elderhostel programs, a popular crafts and music festival, and other activities. It is home to the state Fire Training Academy, where professional and volunteer firefighters train.
The WVU Extension Service also directs or collaborates with programs that improve economic opportunities for youth and small communities, including a summer reading program for rural low-income children, and other programs.
This Article was written by Donna Colebank
Last Revised on April 27, 2011
Berry, Ann & Larry Cote. The Power of Partnership: West Virginia University Extension Service Strategic Plan 2000-2005. Report. 2000.
West Virginia University Extension Service. "Building Greatness. Campaign: West Virginia." Morgantown West Virginia University Extension Service, 2000.