I have been involved in 4-H as a parent, adviser, leader, and, for a year as president of the Iron County 4-H Council. I also come from a family of FFA, "Future Farmers of America," which, unlike 4-H is more of a stand-alone program.
When I was a youth, the extension agent was referred to as the county agent. His or her job was to visit farms and logging operations once a month and let you know what the best crops, livestock, feed trees to plant, etc. Their job was also to let you know what programs, grants and loans were available to improve your land.
In the last couple of years, our MSUE agents not only did not have any background or knowledge of agriculture, but it seemed their only function in life was to oversee the county 4-H program and to use the extension office as a stepping stone in their MSU career.
MSU is now trying to blackmail Iron County into paying almost $35,000 for a part-time employee or no 4-H program.
For the past couple of years, the extension agent spent only a few hours per week in the county, and spent a lot of time out of the county or downstate. The office hours would change and very little was done to assist our local 4-H program materially or financially.
In fact, almost all 4-H paperwork and processing is now done directly online with MSU in Lansing.
My suggestion to the county board: Do not give in to the blackmail, and since almost all paperwork is done online with little or no help from the extension office, the county board should get with State Senator Tom Casperson, or State Rep. Scott Dianda and Dickinson County's State Rep. Ed McBroom, (who is an active dairy farmer, has a history and knowledge of the 4-H program) and possibly convert Iron Conty's 4-H program, into more of a stand alone program like FFA.
That way the county 4-H council can deal directly online with MSU in Lansing.
This would do away with a position that is not being utilized like it should be and save the taxpayers money.
The extension office was never intended to just oversee the 4-H program from a distance, pass out phamplets and or be a stepping stone in someone's career.