Bill Hoffman
Executive Director, Cooperative Extension System/ECOP

Sandy Ruble
Assistant Director, Cooperative Extension System/ECOP

Cooperative Extension Section (CES)


About the Cooperative Extension System

The Cooperative Extension System is the nationwide transformational education system operating through land-grant universities in partnership with federal, state, and local governments. The Cooperative Extension Section is the Directors and Administrators of 76 land-grant institutions 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. The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) gives guidance to issues impacting Cooperative Extension and is the representative leadership and governing body of the Section and System. ECOP is headquartered at the APLU in Washington, D.C. Go to the ECOP landing page to learn more.

Facts About Cooperative Extension

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).

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. To find a Cooperative Extension office or educator near you, go to http://nifa.usda.gov/partners-and-extension-map?state=All&type=Extension&order=title&sort=asc. 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 https://landgrantimpacts.org/areas-of-impact. Cooperative Extension’s unique structure consists of university faculty members and local educators.

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. 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. The ‘cooperative’ in Cooperative Extension is the joint funding provided by federal, state and county partners. A typical Cooperative Extension budget:

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: https://nifa.usda.gov/cooperative-extension-history.

Featured Project & Initiative

The Data Literacy Institute – a partnership between APLU and the Association for Institutional Research with funding from Ascendium – brings together cross-departmental teams from 11 Powered by Publics institutions from Cluster 14 to engage in training that enhance their use of data to improve equitable student outcomes. In May 2022, Powered by Publics held […]

Featured Project & Initiative

Powered by Publics is convening nearly 125 change-ready institutions within 16 “transformation clusters” focused on solving different pieces of the student success puzzle. Participating institutions are working collaboratively to increase college access, eliminate the achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.