42 of 44. The number of Extension county offices and the number of Idaho counties.
The University of Idaho Extension provides reliable, research-based education and information to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Libraries also help communities, develop skills, and build better futures. Libraries and Extension make for logical partnerships.
Librarians had this to say about working with Extension: “They are a wonderful resource and have been great to work with,” Clay Ritter, Payette. “The U of I extension is a great resource for programs,” Amy Mortensen, Twin Falls. The Extension presenter was a “knowledgeable, organized, and engaging educator,” Lacey Welt, Caldwell.
Extension experts focus on pertinent topics such as personal financial management, youth development, community development, health and nutrition, natural resources, and home horticulture. In cooperation with libraries around the state, Extension personnel customize and deliver programming for library patrons. Here are some examples.
On the topic of finance, Garden City Public Library and Meridian Library District partnered with Extension (with funds from Extension) to create an escape room experience for a financial programming event. Amanda Berardinelli from the Garden City Public Library shared that “the escape room was a financial boredom crusher and we received great feedback from participants.” Garden City also hosted the “Working from Home: Ideas and Tips for Supplemental Income” program, where participants learned tips on how to work from home in a safe and effective way. Participants requested the slide deck because of the valuable information presented. Extension ran the “Protect Yourself: A Self-Reliance Course in Identity Theft” program at the Victory Branch of Ada Community Library.
For gardeners, Extension presented a gardening program last year in Payette; helped school-age kids learn about the value of plants, insects, and nature through hands-on activities such as making small bird feeders and plant hats in Caldwell; and joined local Master Gardeners in Twin Falls to discuss efficient lawn watering techniques.
In the area of nutrition, Extension participated in the Caldwell Public Library 2017 Pioneer Party and helped families learn about the importance of wheat, both to the pioneers like Laura Ingalls and to modern families. Library Director Lacey Welt noted that the kids loved tasting cooked wheat. The Caldwell Library also partnered with the Extension office on several programs for adults, including nutritious meals on a budget, nutrition for the new year, and raising backyard farm animals. Other Extension programs in nutrition include Nutrition for Healthy Aging; Cheap Eats: Eating Healthy on a Budget; Gluten-Free Eating; Happy, Healthy Gut; and Dining with Diabetes.
STEM is another topic of programming education. Examples include hands-on STEM activities for teens and tweens such as “Insects: Friend or Foe” (with cockroach experiment) at DeMary Memorial Library in Rupert; “Book and a Bite” STEM activities at the Kuna library; a 4-H Discovery Program on computer coding in Eagle; and LEGO robotics and photography at the Hidden Springs branch of the Ada Community Library.
Still another education program included the Leadership to Make a Difference Institute, presented at Coeur d’Alene, Boise, and Hailey. Beyond programming, Extension also conducts research, such as community development work to explore the establishment of a library taxing district using multiple survey methods with residents in Valley County. In short, the opportunities and possibilities are many.
Extension educators shared the following about working with libraries: “[The libraries] enjoy collaborating with us, and they are a natural fit to collaborate on a lot of the youth programming we do.” “The libraries are strong partners in this program. I’ve enjoyed working with them….” “The trainings have been a great success! Let’s plan on doing it again and supporting each other in all areas.”
Start a conversation with the Extension educators in your area and collaborate to identify a program that will serve your community needs.
Thanks to the University of Idaho Extension for surveying their staff about library partnerships and to Idaho library staff for sharing reflections (and pictures) on Extension programs.