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Extension Outreach Overview

Outreach educational programs from the UMass Extension unit of the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment take many forms. However, they are focused on a common goal, which is to educate and inform individuals, communities and businesses on topics of interest and concern, utilizing the academic resources of UMass Amherst and other sources. The forms may range from an indepth series of workshops over many weeks, to an online fact sheet or a single twilight meeting on a Massachusetts farm. Our intention is to fill unmet educational needs of recognized public priority in the linked set of research and outreach interest areas we address. While extension outreach programs are descibed here, see full research and outreach interest area descriptions for all efforts in the area, including research and integrated-research-and-extension. 

Clean Energy Extension

The UMass Clean Energy Extension provides a resource to reduce market barriers and accelerate the adoption of clean energy for Massachusetts cities and towns, businesses, institutions, farms, low income and multiunit housing, and others. The program supports and contributes to applied research activities across UMass departments and campuses that advance technical, economic, and policy solutions that support clean energy advancement in Massachusetts. The UMass Clean Energy Extension provides impartial and locally responsive expertise to assist entities in evaluating and implementing clean energy opportunities, to help businesses introduce clean energy technologies into the marketplace, and to support applied research to address technical and policy challenges facing clean energy. This program is part of the CAFE Research and Outreach Interest Area Energy.

Extension Agriculture and Commercial Horticulture programs

The agriculture and commercial horticulture programs of UMass Extension extend the research and educational resources of UMass Amherst and the national land grant community to the farms and horticulture-related businesses of Massachusetts. University scientists and educators (whose wide range of expertise includes agronomy, plant materials, integrated pest management, soils and nutrient management) address the needs and concerns of these enterprises through a variety of formal and informal methods, including short courses, workshops, on-farm demonstrations and web-based information. These programs are part of the CAFE Research and Outreach Interest Areas Agriculture and Commercial Horticulture.

Extension Nutrition Education Program

UMass Extension’s Nutrition Education Program (NEP) brings knowledge and skills for healthier eating through research-based nutrition education to the tables of low-income residents (about 208,000 contacts in 2015) so that they can make the very best choices about how to use their limited food resources. The program has offices in seven locations–Amherst, Barnstable, Boston, Lawrence, Raynham, Springfield, and Worcester–and works in partnership with local agencies, organizations, and schools. NEP includes two programs: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), which works with low-income families with young children and youth, and SNAP-Ed, which works with those either receiving or eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program is part of the CAFE Research and Outreach Interest Area Nutrition.

Extension 4-H Youth Development Program

4-H in Massachusetts is a youth development program open to all young people ages 5 through 18. UMass Extension 4-H Youth Development has offices in seven regions of the state and is part of a nationwide system connected to each land-grant institution of higher education. Based on the principles of positive youth development, 4-H helps young people learn life skills under the guidance of trained, screened volunteers in non-formal educational settings such as clubs, camps and afterschool programs. 4-H has a full schedule of events throughout the year including summer fairs, fall community service activities, winter workshops and awards programs and spring public speaking contests. This program is part of the CAFE Research and Outreach Interest Area Youth Development and 4-H.

Other Programs 

Food Science Extension

Food Science Extension, an extension outreach program of CAFE and the UMass Amherst Department of Food Science, helps support applied research and the application of research to stimulate entrepreneurship and new product development. We help our farms and food businesses follow safe, sound procedures. Food Science Extension focuses on applied research and food safety education to support the food industry. The program conducts development research from concept to commercialization to address technical challenges and deliver against product/business needs from farm to fork. Food Science Extension offers educational programs that address food science needs through short courses, on-line training and other outreach venues. This program is part of the CAFE Research and Outreach Interest Area Food Science

Value-Added Food

The Value-Added Food Team provides both research and educational programs for farmers, food entrepreneurs, processors, food hubs and shared use processing facilities, and other food systems stakeholders in Massachusetts and across the country. The Team focuses on the intersection of profitability, food safety, and food quality to support the development of sustainable markets that balance consumer demand for regional attributes and safe, high-quality food products.