Your earliest New Year’s resolution for 2014 should be to become more familiar with IFAS, The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. IFAS is a partnership of federal, state and county agencies charged with generating knowledge in several key areas — agriculture, the life sciences, and human and natural resources — and making that information accessible to the public.
IFAS is part of the great tradition of nationwide cooperative extension whose antecedents date back before 1850, when agricultural societies in many states in the eastern U.S. began to conduct public lectures on agricultural topics. The big boost to this movement occurred in 1914, when Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act creating the Cooperative Extension Service as a partnership between land grant colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and authorized an appropriation to the states for work in agriculture and home economics.
The State of Florida refined its role by creating IFAS in 1964. Now IFAS has offices in all 67 counties of Florida, and operates 12 Research and Education Centers (RECs) throughout the state. The Cooperative Extension Service is administered by The University of Florida and Florida A&M University.
For growers — commercial operators and homeowners alike — of food crops and ornamental plants in the state, IFAS provides invaluable help. But the functions of county extension offices don’t stop there. For instance, families and consumers are served in the categories of aging and caregiving, children, food safety, health and nutrition, house and home, money matters, relationships, and workplace.
Richard Lyons’ Nursery recommends that you celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Cooperative Extension Service by checking out what IFAS has to offer. Examine the website, http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/, and call IFAS offices in your county when you have specific questions. The number in Miami-Dade County is (305) 248-3311, and the number in Broward County is (954) 357-5270.
We’re sure that your first New Year’s resolution for 2014 will be one you won’t regret.