Guest column: Still serving

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Cooperative Extension Service has been serving the people of Arkansas, from agricultural communities in rural areas to school children in the cities, for more than 100 years, through good times and bad. Our current era, in which we all face serious health risks from the COVID-19 virus, is no different.

Minimizing the effects of this virus, which is unusually contagious and particularly lethal to members of our community who are elderly or immunosuppressed, depends largely on social distancing and otherwise limiting close contact. But that doesn’t mean we, as cooperative extension agents, aren’t still here to support our communities in all the ways we always have been.

Whether your needs are agricultural, financial, dietary or educational, our agents are still here to offer the best in unbiased, research-based knowledge. We are still fundamentally engaged in supporting community and economic development, helping farmers make the best choices for their pastures and helping families make the best use of their resources.

Our agents are as available and ready to work as they’ve always been. While public health recommendations may limit in-person contact, we are increasingly available through online venues, including webinars and internet-based teleconferencing. And of course, we’re still ready to answer questions and make recommendations by phone.

We have received several phone calls asking about pesticide applicator trainings. Unfortunately, our final in-person class for the spring was canceled. However, we are excited to announce we have been able to move it online. So anyone needing to certify for the first time or recertify can visit our website at www.uaex.edu/pat to do so.

If you haven’t visited our website in a while, we recommend you take a look. Whether you need to locate your local agent, download one of our invaluable publications, or read the latest in agricultural reporting, www.uaex.edu is a vast resource for Arkansans. We also have a wealth of resources related to coping with COVID-19 at www.uaex.edu/covid19.

The bottom line is, we’re still on the job. And we want to help you be, too.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.

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Olivia Foster is the Carroll County Extension agent.