Letter to the Editor: Support Extension programs in SLV

Currently the San Luis Valley counties have cut their 2019 funding for the local Colorado State University (CSU) Extension office by $32,573. At current funding levels, the office manager will have to go to part time, and the office will lose an educator. This will substantially affect the quality and reach of current programming. If we lose these positions now, it will take many years, and a much higher funding commitment by counties to get them back.

We urge SLV residents to contact their commissioners in person, by phone, by letter, or by email to let them know that this funding level is unacceptable.

The SLV Extension office is a partnership between local county government and CSU. In the San Luis Valley, the six counties provide approximately one-third of the budget, to CSU’s two-thirds.

Extension provides programming in the areas of agriculture, range, horticulture, food safety, nutrition, health, financial management and youth development. Our five Extension staff are experts in their program areas, and they’ve cumulatively put in more than 80 years of service to the Valley. They provide education to more than 16,000 contacts a year.

Just some of the recent Extension programs Valley residents have participated in include the Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference, Master Gardener training, farm legacy planning, agricultural lender meetings, food safety training, cottage food classes, weight loss classes, dining with diabetes classes, strong bones classes, the 4-H youth development program, San Luis Valley Robotics, and the Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program. This is just a small fraction of their offerings. All of these programs have positive impacts on the lives of SLV residents.

As members of the SLV Extension Advisory Board and longtime Valley residents, we believe it’s time for counties to acknowledge the value of Extension and make a commitment to adequately funding the program. We encourage local residents to contact their commissioners to let them know that their constituents benefit from Extension programming, and would like their counties to support it. We can’t afford to lose such a valuable community resource.

Extension Advisory Board

Anthony Lobato, president