What is the Cooperative Extension Service?

By Chris Williams on March 16, 2015.

crops growing in rowsAt one time or another, you may have been told to talk to your extension agent about a pest or plant problem. Who is your extension agent and where do you find that person? The Cooperative Extension Service is confusing even to those of us who know a little about it because it’s a federal, state, and county partnership. Hard to know which government section to check in your phone book!

The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) was established by the federal government back in 1914 as a way to get research-based information to people to help them improve their lives. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides program funds to the land-grant University in each state to fund research, education, and outreach programs in many areas for its citizens.

Traditionally, each county in a state had its own CES office with county agents and other specialists on staff. Today, some offices are consolidated, and many states also have some type of Home and Garden Information Center that is a central clearinghouse of information and is also available online. You can find your local CES office in Massachusetts or New Hampshire by using the links below or check in your phone book under County Government.

It’s Like Having University Resources at Your Fingertips

  • You’re wondering why your potted jade plant keeps dropping leaves.
  • You’d like to know whether you need to add more lime to your lawn this spring?
  • How can you find out if that tick that you removed from your son is carrying Lyme disease?
  • Your power was out for 8 hours, can you still use that ground beef in the freezer?
  • What foods can you serve your elderly diabetic father?

These are varied questions for sure, but can all be answered by the specialists in your local Cooperative Extension Service, either online or in your local or regional office.

Decades ago, county extension agents advised farmers on planting and growing crops and their rural wives on how to grow and preserve produce. Today, much of the information available from the Extension Service comes under the broad categories of Home, Lawn, and Garden and includes phone advice, publications, pest alerts, soil testing, tick testing, insect identification, plant diagnostics, Master Gardeners, 4-H programs, nutrition advice, food safety, environmental protection, and community development. Check your state’s CES website below to see the services available to you at no charge.

Cooperative Extension in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the Extension Service operates out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. UMass Extension is the educational outreach unit of the national Cooperative Extension Service and operates out of five regions in the state. Each region has at least one Extension office. Click the second link below for addresses and phone numbers.


Regional CES offices:

Cooperative Extension in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the Extension Service operates out of the University of New Hampshire.  Each county in the state has an Extension office and there is an Education Center in Manchester. Click the second link below for addresses and phone numbers.


County CES offices:



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