Tulsa County OSU Extension Service Braces For Possible Budget Cuts
TULSA, Oklahoma - The OSU Extension Service is bracing for possible state budget cuts, and it's asking for help in deciding what services are most critical as they consider their options.
One focus of the extension service is to train people on sustainability with the resources they have.
But they're finding they can no longer sustain the service they're providing.
Tracy Lane, the OSU Extension Service Director for Tulsa County, said the service must make some hard decisions.
"And we're looking at most likely continued cuts so the extension service statewide is just not sustainable in light of those severe budget cuts," Lane said.
Lane said the extension service budget has been cut almost 25 percent in six years, a statewide drop of $11 million since 2010.
In Tulsa, the service is most visible each fall at the state fair and throughout the year with the Master Gardener program.
That's the popular service that connects anyone with trained expert volunteers for lawn and garden questions.
There are more than 400 volunteers in that program and they're available by phone each day.
The service also has Nutrition Educators available to help with everything from basic cooking to home canning.
"We're trying to get people to eat healthier and live a healthier lifestyle," said Nutrition Education Program Area Coordinator Jan Dawson.
The director of that program said increasingly, they're working with children.
"We focus on 2nd through 4th grades because if we teach them while they're young. Hopefully, it's something they will continue throughout their life," Dawson said.
But Lane said continued cuts threaten every facet of the extension service, which is why they want to know what people value most.
"So just trying to get some input so we can continue to serve people in the community they're in, but that may change in light of the severe budget cuts that we're facing," Lane said.
They'll use the information from the survey in the next weeks as they develop a budget proposal for state lawmakers.
You can take the survey here.