ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – What is Urban Extension? This is the question featured on billboards launched in September of 2019. Alabama Extension at Alabama A&M University created the billboards to bring awareness to Urban Extension programs and services designed for underserved urban and suburban communities in Alabama.
The billboard campaign reached the most heavily populated areas of Alabama, the nine urban centers: Anniston/Gadsden, Birmingham, Decatur, Dothan, Florence, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. The campaign is part of a systemwide effort to bring awareness to the wide range of topics the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers to meet the needs of all Alabama residents.
What is Extension?
Nationally, the term Extension is used to describe the educational programs that the Cooperative Extension System delivers to enrich, inspire and improve lives. There is at least one Cooperative Extension System at a land-grant institution in every state in the United States.
The idea for an Extension system began in the 1900s when new discoveries were being made in Agriculture. Extension agents would take university research and go to farms to teach new methods to improve crop production. Extension programming has been steadily expanding with the times to include a wide range of topics: food safety, 4-H youth development, finances, gardening, health and nutrition, job skills, and family development. However, some people still consider Extension as a rural resource that only offers help to farmers. This is not the case. Extension offers great learning opportunities to all people in many areas.
What is Urban Extension?
Urban Extension is a national term that is taking on more and more traction as populations shift from rural areas to more highly concentrated urban areas. While Extension has always offered financial, natural resource, gardening, agriculture, and health & nutrition classes, these courses are now being adapted to the specific needs of urban communities. Rural individuals may need information on large plot gardening and traditional composting, urban residents with less land available might be more interested in container gardening and vermiculture (small-scale composting with worms). Urban Extension is the term used to describe the programs and resources developed specifically for urban and suburban audiences.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is busy meeting the needs of all Alabama residents with both traditional and urban Extension. We have programs for everyone, including families, older adults, students, teachers, farmers, business owners, and community leaders.
Now that you have a better idea of what Extension is, let’s start a learning journey. We are actively helping groups and individuals solve problems and inspire new ideas. Browse the topics section of this website or contact your local extension office to get started.
In-person learning: face-to-face sessions, community meetings, teaching gardens, club meetings, on-site visits, classroom demonstrations, group classes
Online learning: mobile apps, online courses, digital books, interactive webinar classes, video tutorials, a website with language options
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome!