Lincoln County halts most of its extension programs

MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) – Since November 2, in a story reported by WSAW’s Drew Sutherland, Lincoln County Council has elected to end most of its share of financial support for Lincoln County Extension programming beginning in 2023.

He has chosen to maintain his investment in the 4-H educator position, and Extension will continue to support the county’s 4-H program into the next year. Because Extension offers the FoodWise nutrition education program using federal SNAP ED grants, Extension will also continue to provide this education to low-income Lincoln County residents in 2023.

The board chose to eliminate most of its education investments from Lincoln County Extension. They have many tough budget choices to make on an ongoing basis, but the reduction in funding for extension services will have ripple effects in Lincoln County communities.

Lincoln County will no longer have the ability to deliver health and wellness/positive youth development programs such as mental health related education for adults and youth, the Social Norms Project and AODA education. Community development programs such as strategic planning for non-profit organizations, rural broadband expansion planning, and community health assessment planning. Agricultural programs such as individual and group on-farm consultations, youth certification courses on tractors and machinery, and the effects of nitrogen and sulfur levels on research plots on wheat yield d ‘winter. Finally, office support programs such as the ability to help with food storage questions and pressure cooker testing, the ability to provide customer service in the office, and the ability to test soil samples and of water.

Through 2023, Lincoln County will continue to support the 4-H program, as well as FoodWise. They want these program participants to know that their office will not be open to walk-in traffic. Instead, starting Dec. 12, 4-H-related appointments can be made by contacting 4-H educator, Melissa Yates here.

Additionally, without Lincoln County’s co-investment in a county support staff member or county educators from the programs listed above, the county will lose the ability to access regional specialists and State within Extension Division, UW Madison. Specialists and other educational advisors and efforts will be focused on counties that continue to invest in these program areas.

If you have questions about how Lincoln County’s 2023 budget cuts will affect Lincoln County Extension operations, contact Area Extension Manager Art Lersch here or call 715-218-5360.

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