Cooperative Extension System

The pace of innovation in the agriculture-related, health, and human sciences demands that knowledge rapidly reaches the people who depend on it for their livelihoods. The Cooperative Extension System (CES), in partnership with NIFA, is translating research into action: bringing cutting-edge discoveries from research laboratories to those who can put knowledge into practice.

CES empowers farmers, ranchers, and communities of all sizes to meet the challenges they face, adapt to changing technology, improve nutrition and food safety, prepare for and respond to emergencies, and protect our environment. 

NIFA’s key role

CES is operated through the nation’s Land-Grant University System in partnership with the federal and state and local governments. As the federal partner, NIFA develops methods to address national priorities, funds and awards grants, and provides program leadership. The agency supports both the universities and local CES offices to bring science directly to the regional and county level.

Relying on a proven system

CES is a nationwide, non-credit educational network that addresses public needs by providing non-formal higher education and learning activities to farmers, ranchers, communities, youth, and families throughout the nation. With an organization that has been operating for over a century, CES is well positioned to efficiently get needed tools and knowledge into the hands of the people who need them.

An unprecedented reach

At a time when agricultural, food, and environmental challenges are mounting and needs are growing, CES is more relevant than ever. With its wide reach — an office in or near most of the nation's approximately 3,000 counties — extension agents help farmers grow crops, homeowners plan and maintain their homes, and youth learn skills to become tomorrow's leaders.

How it works: translating research into action

University faculty members, who are disciplinary experts, translate science-based research results into language — written, verbal, and electronic — appropriate for targeted audiences. County-based educators work with local citizens and interest groups to solve problems, evaluate the effectiveness of learning tools, and collect grassroots input to prioritize future research. By living and working in communities, county educators are able to rely on existing relationships to respond to local needs, build trust, and engage effectively with citizens.

Website widens extension’s audience

Land-Grant University System faculty and staff experts extend extension’s reach even further by providing science-based content for the eXtension website. The site offers an online resource where users have continual access to research information on a wide range of topics.