Lone employee scrambling to preserve programs for farmers, 4-H clubs, gardeners
The University of Wisconsin Extension office, which works extensively with groups that range from county farmers to 4-H groups to Master Gardeners, is in a state of flux, and the Ozaukee County office, staffed now by only one program director, is feeling the pinch.
Farmers rely on the Extension office for everything from herd and crop management to conservation programs, pesticide training to planning, said Town of Port Washington dairy farmer Jim Melichar.
The county’s 4-H clubs rely on the office for support and manpower, as well as programming, Brenda Mueller, a former president of the 4-H Leaders Association, said.
The Ozaukee Master Gardeners, who last year donated almost 7,000 hours maintaining numerous county parcels, rely on the Extension office for guidance, training and programming, President Mary Reilly-Kliss said.
“I cannot say enough about how supportive and helpful the staff is,” she said.
The Extension office, which has traditionally been staffed by three or four full-time program directors, is currently staffed by one as the university system grapples with a $3.6 million cut in funding.
“Then there was one,” Kathy Butler, the 4-H and Youth Development coordinator, told the Natural Resources Committee recently.