Extension Levy Has History
Byline: The Register-Guard
Popular though it is, the Extension Service can't be considered Lane County's top budgetary priority. Other programs ranging from public safety to public health have a stronger claim on the county's limited financial resources and political capital.
Yet last week the Lane County Board of Commissioners voted to move toward putting an Extension levy on the ballot next year. It's not that the board has suddenly decided that supporting the Extension Service is more important than anything else the county does. Rather, commissioners found themselves in the same position as they did a quarter century ago, when an Extension levy emerged as the least bad option.
Then as now, Lane County was hard-pressed to continue its contribution to the Extension Service, whose purpose is the statewide dissemination of knowledge housed at Oregon's land-grant college, Oregon State University. OSU provides the faculty for the service, and other support comes from federal grants. About a quarter of the local Extension Service's budget comes from Lane County. In 1987 the county cut its contribution to a point at which the partnership could no longer be maintained, and OSU prepared to steeply curtail local Extension programs.
Then as now, the county had more urgent demands for financial support. But the commissioners understood that the Extension Service had a large and loyal following. It relies on hundreds of volunteers and serves tens of thousands of people through its gardening, forestry, animal husbandry, nutrition, education and youth programs. …