Extension Service asks county board for $50,000

The Washington County Board of Commissioners presented the University of Minnesota Extension Service county program with a clear mandate in 2009: grow the program and pay their own way.

Following the Extension Service’s 2013 budget presentation Tuesday, one commissioner feels the agency has met that earlier challenge.

“I consider that they met their end of the bargain. We’re getting a bang for our buck,” said District 3 Commissioner Gary Kriesel.

Extension Service Regional Director Kim Boyce said the group would seek $50,000 from the county next year, with that money matching donations to the group. The extension service requested the same amount from the county in this year’s budget.

“Our request is for $50,000 in county funding. A lot of groups and foundations look for a match (to their contributions),” Boyce said.

The county extension has a $200,000 budget, with about $70,000 from grants and foundations, $28,000 from dues and $50,000 from fundraising.

Boyce noted that since the county board’s 2009 directive to the extension service, the agency has added youth mentoring, alcohol and drug prevention and cyber-bullying prevention programs. About 600 county youths are involved in Extension Service programs.

“The program has grown over 24 percent since 2009,” Boyce said.

County Extension Board Chairman Dan Dolan said 4-H currently offers 60 different programs for youths. He added that only 12 of those programs are in agriculture, with the remainder focusing on science and technology.

One commissioner, however, wants to see more growth in Extension Service participation.

“The growth is very good. But it’s not high enough,” said County Board Chairman Dennis Hegberg.