As part of the Land Grant system, the University of Illinois was established not only to provide world class education and pioneer research and discovery, but to put learning and discovery into practice, to benefit the health and wellbeing of residents and communities in every part of Illinois. Extension is the university’s statewide network of educators, faculty experts, and staff dedicated to that mission.

We believe in Illinois: its people, its diverse neighborhoods and communities, and our shared future. We believe that health and wellness are the foundation for individuals, families, and communities reaching their full potential. We believe in and promote a culture of service as fundamental to strong and healthy families, neighborhoods, and state. We believe that the long term sustainability of the environment and agricultural productivity requires stewardship and care. We believe in and respect youth’s potential to change the world, and work to support nurturing communities and opportunities to learn and grow.

We believe in the state of Illinois and we are committed to our mission linking local communities to the University, to develop programs, tools, and knowledge that will support needed change. Our mission is to align research to needs and translate research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

To organize ourselves around these important goals, our work focuses on five ‘grand challenges.’  Illinois Extension leaders work with a network of local stakeholders to define annual priorities that allow us to respond to evolving and emerging needs while still ensuring meaningful progress toward key outcomes in each of the five grand challenge areas. This blend of long-range focus and local accountability is a powerful strategy that ensures we stay true to our mission while we serve communities across the state.

  • Energy and environmental stewardship
  • Food safety and security
  • Economic development and workforce preparedness
  • Family health, financial security, and wellness
  • Youth development

While most Extension programs are offered on an informal, non-credit basis, U of I Extension does offer continuing education credits in some fields of study. Extension programs may be offered as hands-on workshops, field days, online self-paced tutorials, or in other formats that are suitable for the audience and subject-matter.

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in Extension programs each year, including nearly 200,000 who participate in 4-H youth programs. Each month, U of I Extension web pages draw more than 5 million page views, and people in more than 200 countries access Extension's web-based information.

Communities are directly served by Extension staff in 27 units located throughout Illinois. Extension educators in local offices and specialists located on the U of I campus develop and deliver in-depth programming locally, in regional venues, and through distance-learning technologies.

As part of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System, U of I Extension also is able to draw on research-based expertise from land-grant universities all across the country. Volunteers who serve on local advisory councils provide direction for U of I Extension programming, ensuring that programs continue to meet critical needs.

U of I Extension is based in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and works with all colleges and units of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What We Do and Why it Matters