Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why is Greene County Extension Located in the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center?

Specialists and volunteers representing Greene County Extension have been involving with the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department’s Botanical Center project from the very start.

“MU Extension specialists were involved with other groups in the original planning of building and fundraising for that building because of Extension’s agriculture and horticulture programs,” said David Burton, county program director for Greene County Extension. “Our horticulture specialist Gaylord Moore worked with Parks and the Close family early on in the development of this park as well.”

Overall, it was at least a 10-year project that involved several different Extension specialists.

Toward the end of the fundraising project, members of the Greene County Commission also transferred $400,000 to the parks department for use on the Botanical Center. Those final monies were added to private gifts raised by volunteers, funds from the City of Springfield and monies for the parks sales tax.

“The money from Greene County got things moving for the construction of the building,” said Burton. “The Commission got involved and made a large commitment because the building was going to allow the Greene County Extension Center to move out of a challenging building downtown owned by the County.”

Typically, Extension offices are located in county courthouses around Missouri because Extension is a program funded locally by County Commissions according to Missouri law.

“In Greene County, the Commission made a big commitment to future of Extension by being a big partner in providing a functional work and meeting place,” said Burton.

Now, Extension is more than just a resident of the Botanical Center. Extension is the "heart" of university research based information available to residents of Greene County plus others from outside the county.

For example, there are many people calling and visiting MU Extension’s Master Gardener Hotline in the Botanical Center (nearly 2000 last year alone) looking for answers to questions that come up regarding horticulture.

Other contacts with the Extension office deal with 4-H, agriculture, community development, family nutrition and other issues. The Extension office is where people wanting a soil test or to have a plant analyzed for disease, come to leave their samples for processing.

In addition, other Extension programs on parenting, entrepreneurship, and personal finance use the meeting rooms to present many topics of interest to the public, all of which bring large visitors to the Springfield Botanical Gardens.

“Once visitors are exposed to the Botanical Center they typically come back and spend some time exploring the grounds or return to visit the 114 acres and the 36 gardens and other features later,” said George Deatz, Friends of the Garden member and new member of the Greene County Extension Council.

All of this activity leads to more potential members for organizations like Master Gardeners of Greene County, Friends of the Garden, Greater Ozarks Hosta Society, Friends of the Gray-Campbell Farmstead, Ozark Daylily Society, Federated Garden Clubs and the other park partners.

“The organization is working to provide Extension with the needed financial support from the Greene County Commission. Over the last few years their office operating budget has been reduced to the state mandated minimum of $10,000, which is not enough to sustain ongoing operations,” said Deatz.

There is a Giving Form link that can be used to join and help save Extension operations in Greene County. Make your tax deductible check out to University of Missouri and just write "Friends of Greene County Extension" on the memo line of your check and the front of the Giving Form:


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