The Alabama Cooperative Extension System
 Monday, December 10, 2018
About Extension  ·  County Offices  ·  Calendar  ·  Publications  ·  News  ·  Multimedia Resources
Alabama A&M University  ·  Auburn University  ·  Extension Units & Departments
Staff Directory  ·  Employment Opportunities  ·  Weather  ·  Related Websites  ·  Español
How Extension Works for You

How Extension Works for You

In 1862, Congress passed a law granting land to each state for "agricultural and mechanical" institutions of higher learning. In 1890, Congress granted land to institutions educating Black citizens. In the late 1800s, the school that is now Tuskegee University began using a mule-drawn wagon as a "school on wheels" to teach rural people better ways to grow crops and feed their families.

The land-grant mission and teaching outside the classroom gave rise in 1914 to the national Cooperative Extension Service, whose mission was to "take the university to the people."

Alabama is the first state to combine the Extension programs at its 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities. In 1995, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System was formally created, including Alabama A&M University and Auburn University, with Tuskegee University cooperating.

Over the years, Extension’s knowledge base and capacity have expanded through partnerships with hundreds of organizations—all the way from local to international groups. Through the work of more than 500 Extension agents and other field-based staff, in addition to specialists in many facets of our six program areas, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System is bringing the research and knowledge of the land-grant universities and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, and the expertise of our many partners, to the people.


Today there are roughly 45,000 farms in Alabama. Extension helps Alabama’s farmers create and maintain healthy, profitable, and environmentally sustainable operations. Regional Research and Extension Centers in the Tennessee Valley, the Black Belt, the Wiregrass, the Gulf Coast, Sand Mountain, and Chilton area address the specific needs of each region. Home gardening and urban horticulture are also major Extension priorities.

Forestry and Natural Resources

Alabama is rich in natural resources. Almost two-thirds of the state is covered in forests, and our water resources are the envy of the nation. Forestry, fisheries, and wildlife bring billions of dollars into the state’s economy and greatly enhance quality of life. Extension is committed to helping people safeguard and develop these resources.

Urban and Nontraditional Programs

Two-thirds of Alabamians live in urban areas, and the Extension mission of taking the university to the people includes them as well as rural citizens. Programs include the urban family network, workforce preparation, domestic violence prevention, teen leadership, health issues, and nontraditional agriculture. Eight urban centers and two satellite offices help bring Extension education to the state’s city dwellers.

Family and Individual Well-Being

One of Extension’s key roles is helping families and individuals improve their quality of life through food safety, proper nutrition, parenting, family financial management, and community health. Flagship programs include the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), begun in Alabama more than 30 years ago and since adopted by all other states, and the federally mandated Nutrition Education Program (NEP), which focuses on educating food stamp recipients.

Community and Economic Development

Extension plays a leading role in revitalizing Alabama communities, especially where declining farm populations have resulted in such problems as dwindling revenue bases and youth flight. Extension programs focus on economic and leadership development, environmental quality and community health, and public policy and strategic planning.

4-H and Youth Development

Alabama’s 4-H program offers young people opportunities to develop their interests and expand their awareness of our world. Extension educators, volunteers, and the young people themselves work together to provide a wide range of hands-on, minds-on experiences that develop each individual’s four H’s—head, heart, hands, and health.

How Do You Tap In?

To learn how Extension can help you... or to volunteer... or just to ask a question...

Please call us! The number is in your telephone book under your county’s listing for Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Or contact your local county agent at:

Click here for a printable copy of this document
        Click here to ask a question