A big part of Extension's job is education

December 27, 2010
  • Jeff Semler
Jeff Semler

As you have read many times in this column, I am a proponent of, as well as an employee of the Land Grant University System. The system has three distinct yet equally important parts: resident instruction (on campus), and research and extension education. Think of extension education as noncredit lifelong learning.

Winter begins the next semester and the office has a great deal of options for potential students.

The first offering in 2011 is Agricultural Entrepreneurial Business Planning. The three-evening course is for the agricultural entrepreneur who is thinking about starting an agricultural- based venture, needing to expand a current business or considering an opportunity to diversify.

The course is designed to enhance entrepreneurial skills and assist in the development of a business plan. It will help those individuals who are searching for innovative ideas and enhanced marketing opportunities in the area of agriculture. Attendees will have networking opportunities and one-on-one consultation time with instructors. A business-planning book will step you through the process of developing the business plan.

The Care of the Lactating Ewe/Doe is the second offering. So you have bred your ewes or does and it will soon be lambing or kidding time. Join us on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. for a discussion on what's next. Topics will include feeding the expectant female, the lactating female and care of the young. Even if you already have lambs or kids on the ground, bring your questions and your experiences. Registration is required and a $5 fee will be collected at the door.

The third course is Poultry 101. Hundreds of folks across the four-state region raise chickens, ducks, turkeys and a few guineas. This is your opportunity to get some of your questions answered and reinforce much of the knowledge you already possess. We will discuss rearing, feeding, management and housing, as well as hatching your own eggs and biosecurity.

The course will be Feb. 10 and 24, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Extension office. Space is limited and registration is required. A $5 fee will be collected at the door.  Attendance at both sessions is encouraged.

Soil Fertility is a new offering for next year. Whether you are growing a row of carrots, an acre of sweet corn or pasture for your livestock, do we have a series for you. Topics during the two sessions will be soil characteristics, soil composition, soil testing and fertilizer use. The fee for the class is $15, which includes soil testing. Registration and fee are due in advance in order to make arrangements for soil testing and insure results from your soil test are available for class. Join us on March 10 and 24 from 7 to 9 p.m.

I trust you will take advantage of these opportunities. To register or request more information about any of these classes, call the Extension office. Many of these classes fill up, so do not delay.  

I wish you an enlightening New Year.  

For more information, call me at 301-791-1304 or e-mail

 Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at

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