by Lisa Tome
Maryland Extension has been bringing learning programs to the county for a century.
While they offer traditional services such as nutrient management and 4-H, they also bring new programs to Cecil constantly.
"We are doing a lot of cutting edge things here," said Aly Valentine who serves as the Area Extension Director for Cecil and other counties.
New programs are being added all the time. It was recently announced that Cecil County will serve as the pilot site for the Watershed Steward's Academy.
That program is a partnership between Extension and Cecil's Department of Public Works.
Extension was established 100 years ago by the Smith-Lever Act as an educational entity which brings learning to people in their community. Extension offers programs in agriculture, natural resources and the environment, 4-H and youth development, and family and consumer sciences. Doris Behnke oversees master gardeners, pesticides, agriculture and horticulture. "I like the versatility. There is always something happening and I get to deal with a lot of different people," said Behnke, who has worked there for four years. She also said she enjoys meeting the different needs.
Karen Aspinwall handles family and consumer science. Aspinwall has worked at Extension for six years.
She said she enjoys applying what is learned to everyday life. "We're embedded in community programs. People may not understand it, but we're a strong part of so many outreaches," said Aspinwall.
April Barczewski and Vicki Stone handle 4-H, agriculture, live stock, and school outreach such as the successful embryology program. They are adding STEM programming all the time.
"My favorite part of the job is I like the variety of programs I can offer. When the community has a need, 4-H can answer it," said Stone, who has worked for extension for five years.
April Barczewski has worked for extension for 14 years. "I enjoy working with kids and seeing them develop from shy kids to competent, caring, contributing adults," said Barczewski.
Tammy Pryor handles Extension's Expanded Food and Nutrition education programming. Pryor has worked for extension for 15 years. "I like what I do. It's still fun after 15 years," she said.
Caleb Snyder is the nutrient management advisor. He has worked in that position since April 2014. He helps farmers create their nutrient management plans.
Micki Preston and Donna Witkowski handle the administrative tasks.
Valentine said Extension is a busy place. "We don't have down time here. We are here to meet the needs of the people," said Valentine.
There is an extension program in each of the Maryland counties and in Baltimore City.
To celebrate the century mark, a big event is being held next month. An open house, to celebrate 100 years of University of Maryland Extension is set for Wednesday, October 8 from 3-8 p.m. at the County Administration Building, Chesapeake Boulevard, Elkton. This event will include displays, activities, refreshments, and a chance to meet extension staff. All are welcome to attend this free event.