Gov. Rauner releases $5 million in grant money to U of I Extension services

By Shelly Nickols-Richardson

URBANA, Ill. – Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the release of $16 million in agriculture grants on Friday, including $5 million for University of Illinois Extension services. The announcement was made at Stremsterfer Farms in Pleasant Plains, Ill., with Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe, County Extension Director Aaron Dufelmeier, local officials, and the Stremsterfer family in attendance. The funds being released from the fiscal year 2018 budget will also fund soil and water districts and county fairs and agriculture societies.

"These three entities provide services that are vital for the future of Illinois agriculture," Rauner said. "From protecting our farmland for future generations to fostering agriculture careers and educating consumers, these organizations support Illinois agriculture, the backbone of our state’s economy."

Ag Director Raymond Poe said funding for these organizations comes at a critical time. "We must continue to fund these organizations in order to sustain their key programs," he said. "I want to thank our agricultural partners for commitment to Illinois agriculture and for their cooperation in these fiscally challenging times."

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Extension provides information and education that helps Illinois residents improve agricultural practices; protect the environment; access better food; improve nutrition; develop their communities; build strong economics; provide learning opportunities for youth, adults, and elders; and prepare a more effective workforce. The Department of Agriculture will disperse $5 million to assist the organization with its core mission.

"Thank you to our Extension Partners, thank you to our local advocates, and all those who support the University of Illinois Extension and what we do," said County Extension Director Aaron N. Dufelmeier at the event. "We have the opportunity each and every day to impact the lives of our community members to help solve those problems they may have. Most importantly, we bring the practical education from the University of Illinois to the citizens in our communities that is so important to each and everyone one of us on a personal level."

Kim Kidwell, dean of the College of ACES, said, "For the thousands of youth, citizens, and volunteers across the state that are impacted by University of Illinois Extension and 4-H in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, I say thank you. We are truly grateful for the support that the governor and our state legislators have provided to help us continue to do great work to help people in every county in Illinois improve the quality of their lives."