Lincoln County discontinues most of its extension programs

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:52 PM CST
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - As of Nov. 2, in a story reported by WSAW’s Drew Sutherland, the Lincoln County Board has chosen to discontinue most of its portion of financial support for Lincoln County Extension programming beginning in 2023.

It chose to maintain its investment in the 4-H Educator position, and Extension will continue to support the county 4-H program next year. Since Extension offers the FoodWIse nutrition education program using SNAP ED federal grant dollars, Extension will also continue to provide this education to low-income Lincoln County residents in 2023.

The Board has chosen to eliminate most of its investment in Lincoln County Extension education. They have many difficult budget choices to make on an ongoing basis but the reduction in funding for Extension services will have ripple effects throughout Lincoln County communities.

Lincoln County will no longer have the capacity to deliver Health & Well-Being/ Positive Youth Development Programs such as mental health-related education to adults and youth, the Social Norms Project, and AODA education. Community Development Programs such as strategic planning for nonprofits, rural broadband expansion planning, and community health assessment planning. Agriculture Programs such as one on one and group farm consultations, Youth Tractor & Machinery Certification Courses, and Nitrogen and sulfur rate effects on winter wheat yield research plots. Lastly, Office Support Programs such as the ability to assist with food preservation questions and pressure canner testing, the ability to provide in-office customer service, and the ability to test soil and water samples.

Looking to 2023, Lincoln County will continue to support the 4-H Program, along with FoodWIse. They want those program participants to be aware that their office will not be open for walk-in traffic. Rather, beginning Dec. 12, appointments related to 4-H can be made by connecting with the 4-H Educator, Melissa Yates here.

Also, without the co-investment from Lincoln County, in a county support-staff member or in county-based educators from the programs listed above, the county will lose the ability to access regional and state specialists within the Division of Extension, UW Madison. Specialists and other educator advisors and efforts will be focused on counties that continue to invest in those program areas.

If you have any questions about how Lincoln County budget reductions for 2023 will affect Lincoln County Extension operations, contact Area Extension Director Art Lersch here or call 715-218-5360.