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University of Wisconsin
Richard M. (Rick) Klemme
Executive Director
Cooperative Extension/ECOP

Sandra (Sandy) Ruble
Program Assistant
Cooperative Extension/ECOP


Cooperative Extension Section (CES)

Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP)

About Cooperative Extension and ECOP

Cooperative Extension is the nationwide transformational education system operating through land-grant universities in partnership with federal, state, and local governments. ECOP gives guidance to issues impacting Cooperative Extension. ECOP is the representative leadership and governing body of Cooperative Extension. The Cooperative Extension Section represents the directors and administrators of member Extension institutions (76) in their collective dealings with other units of the APLU Commission on Food, Environment, and Renewable Resources (CFERR), the Board on Agriculture Assembly (BAA), federal agencies, organizations, and the public. ECOP is headquartered at the APLU in Washington, D.C.

The links in the "Members" menu provide easy navigation to learn more.


Facts About Cooperative Extension

  • How does Cooperative Extension work?
    Cooperative Extension educators or agents translate science for the public, engage the public to act, prepare people for a better life, provide rapid response in disasters, develop partnerships, and connect people online. Extension operates through the nationwide land-grant university system and is a partnership among the federal government, primarily USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and state and local governments. At the national level, Extension is coordinated by the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP).
  • What does Cooperative Extension do?
    Extension provides trusted, practical education, to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Campus-based faculty members are disciplinary specialists with doctoral degrees whose primary responsibility is to develop curricula that translate science-based research results into language (written, verbal, and electronic) appropriate for targeted audiences. County-based educators (most of whom have graduate degrees) work with local citizens and interest groups to solve problems, evaluate the effectiveness of learning tools, and collect grassroots input to prioritize future research. By living and working in communities, county educators respond to local needs, build trust, and engage effectively with citizens. Program Areas include but are not limited to 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture, Family & Consumer Sciences, Health and Nutrition, Community Development, Water and Natural Resources, Forestry, Emergency Preparedness, Climate Variability, Volunteerism, and Human Sciences. Many Cooperative Extension Education Programs are delivered at little or no cost to citizens through public funding. To find a Cooperative Extension office or educator near you, go to Ask an Expert offers one-to-one expert answers from Cooperative Extension/University staff and volunteers from across the United States. To learn about the impact of Cooperative Extension throughout the United States and U.S. territories go to Cooperative Extension’s unique structure consists of university faculty members and local educators.
  • How is Cooperative Extension funded?
    Capacity funding from federal, state and county appropriations is the critical foundation of Cooperative Extension resources, while grants, contracts, fees and gifts provide some support. The Extension mission—to extend knowledge, change lives—along with its strong off-campus, community-based structure, makes it complementary to, though quite different from, research and requires a different funding model. For example, research scientists may address a particular question, such as developing a new, highly nutritious vegetable variety. This development may be accomplished by one or a few public universities with results useful on a broad scale. In contrast, the Extension role of helping people understand the benefits of eating more nutritious foods, and acquiring the knowledge, skills and motivation to take positive action, must be carried out in communities in the 3,000-plus counties in the United States, and must be repeated over many years to achieve broad adoption with each new generation of learners. Over the past several decades, the purchasing power of federal capacity funding, distributed via formula to land-grant universities to support Extension programs, has been steadily reduced. Capacity funds, often leveraged three- to four-fold with other funding sources,make transformational learning possible for societies, families and individuals.
  • When did Cooperative Extension begin?
    The hallmark beginning of Cooperative Extension was on May 8, 1914 with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act into law. To read more about the celebrated history of Cooperative Extension go to:

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Meetings & Events Events


All Day
Lied Lodge and Conference Center Nebraska City, Nebraska, USA

Featured Project & Initiative


Student testing chemicals in a lab
Agriculture, Human Sciences & Natural Resources
APLU and the AAVMC created a Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture to help advise the federal government on a research agenda and publicly disseminate information on the use of antibiotics in production agriculture.