Who We Are & Who We Serve
The Vision of the WVU Extension Service
WVU Extension Service meets the changing lifelong learning needs of people, organizations, and communities by putting knowledge to work.
The Mission of the WVU Extension Service
WVU Extension Service educators and volunteers build and help sustain collaborations and partnerships with people and organizations in West Virginia, to improve their lives and communities.
Our programs and services strengthen leaders of all ages, youth, and families. We develop and teach best practices for sustainable agriculture, for responsible use of renewable resources, and stewardship of natural resources. We work to improve our state’s communities, workforce, and the economy.
Where Is WVU-ES?
Through its Extension Service, WVU provides a “mini campus” in each of the state’s 55 counties. The work at these locations addresses a wide variety of community issues via a nontraditional mix of learners, faculty, staff and volunteers. Part of an educational network of 105 land-grant universities, WVU-ES takes the helping hand of West Virginia University directly to thousands of West Virginians in communities scattered across the state. Extension’s central administrative office is on WVU’s downtown campus in Morgantown.
How Does Extension Work?
Drawing on the strengths of WVU’s many academic disciplines, extension educators target communities’ social, economic, environmental and technical problems. Some extension educators work out of buildings on WVU’s traditional campuses, such as those located in Morgantown. But many extension personnel work out of offices in WVU Extension’s county settings, such as those generally located in or near each county’s governmental seat. Working daily with local residents, extension personnel find their lives often intertwine with the issues that confront their local communities. They are committed to helping people find answers that work. As they solve problems along with local citizens—individually and in groups—Extension personnel and staff translate WVU’s research and knowledge into action.
How About Some Examples?
If you live in West Virginia, you probably have seen the helping hand of the West Virginia University Extension Service at work . . .
. . . as it helps volunteer and career firefighters learn to protect families and property.
. . . as it helps children learn skills that help them build character and plan careers. (For example, Extension educators and volunteers guide 1 in 5 West Virginia youths in “learn by doing” 4-H projects and activities that build citizenship and career skills.)
. . . as it helps individuals learn new ways to produce income. (For example, 900 individuals recently were trained to provide quality child care. Many other West Virginians learned direct marketing and other entrepreneurial skills. Some are participating in alternative product development projects. The multi-county endeavors include the aquaculture freshwater trout ventures, the pepper production and marketing program, and the commercial ginseng production pilot project.)
. . . as it trains volunteers to serve West Virginia’s communities and schools. (During one program year, approximately 7,000 adult and youth volunteers were trained to help young people. Others were trained to serve on local boards and committees. Still others were trained to deliver expertise in specific subject matter, including gardening, literacy, and health and safety issues.)
. . . as it helps farmers improve productivity. (Through integrated pest management, farmers are increasing their savings by learning to control crop pests with fewer pesticides. Through total resource management, soil testing and other Extension programs, farmers are employing better production and management practices for livestock and produce.)
. . . as it helps landowners learn to use natural resources more wisely. (West Virginia’s natural resources are being protected as landowners use WVU Extension’s water quality and timber conservation strategies and as homeowners adopt composting, yard waste management and recycling techniques.)
. . . as it helps families become more resilient and healthy. (For example, during one program year, 929 rural families and more than 8,000 homemakers learned nutrition, food management and food preparation skills. Families in all 55 counties are participating in WVU Extension skill-building programs that are helping them employ positive child care, family communication and health care strategies.)
. . . as it helps managers and laborers improve relations and workplace safety. (Every year, laborers throughout the state learn their rights and responsibilities for positive negotiations through courses conducted by the Institute for Labor Studies and Research. West Virginia’s industries are increasing workers’ safety while saving health care and business dollars by consulting with Safety and Health Extension (SHE). SHE’s services include on-site safety audits and employee training in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.)
. . . as it helps local governments learn strategies to tackle economic and community development issues. (From throughout West Virginia, solid waste authority representatives turn to WVU Extension for training on the latest developments in technology, regulation and program implementation. Similarly, WVU Extension is helping communities plot their development for the next decade. Ten communities, for example, already have developed tourism plans.)
How Are Programs Financed?
WVU Extension programs are financed via a variety of funding combinations: federal appropriations and grants; state appropriations and grants; county commission, county school board and other local governmental appropriations; and users fees and private grants.
How Does WVU-ES Benefit College Students?
When graduate and undergraduate students take part in this action, they find the WVU Extension Service to be a fertile, flexible provider of a variety of internship, work-study and volunteer experiences. Extension educators may involve students in some or in all phases of their educational projects—research, design, delivery and evaluation.
Depending on the project, students may have hands-on experience with video production, computer networks, distance education, publication design and production, radio and television production, curriculum design and development, and classroom teaching.
However, students may not be familiar with the diversity of experiences available to them through the WVU Extension Service. Students may not equate the name “WVU Extension Service” with educational programs on and off campus. Often, those who do recognize the name generally are familiar only with a segment of Extension’s multifaceted programs.
Extension programs have roots in many career fields. The list includes agriculture, business administration, child development, computer science, communications, environmental science, engineering, counseling and guidance, curriculum design, health education, home economics, journalism and safety. Regardless of their academic disciplines, today’s students may find rich learning experiences—and even rewarding careers—among extension’s diverse educational programs. Whether on campus or off campus, WVU students are invited to work with the WVU Extension Service.
Depending upon program priorities and funding, graduate and undergraduate internships, work-study appointments, and volunteer service positions may be available on the Morgantown campus and in any of the 55 counties. Program priorities and funding also determine the duration of appointments during regular semester and summer sessions.