Winnebago, Stephenson, Jo Daviess U of I Extension offices now one

From press release

While the State of Illinois continues to struggle with budget issues, area residents can continue to count on University of Illinois (U of I) Extension to provide education and leadership for programs and initiatives ranging from good nutrition on a limited income to agricultural and horticulture expertise to 4-H club experiences for youth.

Working with local stakeholders to develop multi-county units, Extension has completed a state-wide reorganization that will help stretch Extension budgets while still providing needed services. As a result, by next July 27, multi-county units will have replaced the previous 77 units in the state. In northwest Illinois, Winnebago, Stephenson and Jo Daviess counties have been combined into one unit under the leadership of Margaret Larson of Pecatonica, Ill., who was appointed county director for the integrated unit effective Nov. 1.

As director of the new multi-county unit, Larson will provide overall leadership and be responsible for personnel management, program assessment and planning, and facilities and fiscal management. She will work with stakeholders and volunteers in all three counties to ensure Extension services and programs are meeting local needs.

“Having served Stephenson County for over six years and Winnebago for three, I am quite familiar with area needs that Extension is meeting, or can meet with the planned addition of Educators,” said Larson. “My goal is to look for commonalities and streamline programming wherever it makes sense while still being very conscious of the counties’ need to have their own programs and identities. For example, each county will continue to have its own 4-H clubs and coordinate its own 4-H Fair, and programs such as the Master Naturalist Program and the Master Gardener Program will retain their county bases and projects.”

Sara Dady, Rockford resident and U of I Extension-Winnebago County Council member, said: “I am thrilled that Margaret has been appointed as county director of the Winnebago, Stephenson and Jo Daviess Extension Unit. Winnebago County Extension programming has flourished under her leadership for the last three years, and I am looking forward to even greater progress as she continues at the helm.”

In Champaign, Ill., Robert Hoeft, interim associate dean for Extension and Outreach, acknowledged the reorganization has been difficult, but successful.

“We are living in tough economic times, but I’m confident that our county directors will rise to the challenge and provide meaningful programs and services to the counties in their jurisdiction,” Hoeft said.

Larson joined U of I Extension in June 2004 after more than 20 years of higher education experience at four colleges and universities in Illinois. Originally serving the U of I Extension-Stephenson County as county director, Larson became the interim county director of Extension in Winnebago County in the fall of 2007, and has served in that capacity since then.

Active in several regional and statewide initiatives, Larson served on the development team for the U of I Extension training program “Engaging Generations” that focused on how to help diverse age groups work together well. She has also worked with Extension educators to develop curricula and programming for specialty crop producers and farmers’ markets, and has been active in programming and support for nonprofits in the area.

University of Illinois Extension exists to provide leadership, education and programs that meet new and ongoing needs in the home counties of the residents of Illinois. This includes wide-ranging efforts from 4-H clubs that facilitate leadership development for youth to programs for adults and seniors in the following areas: Energy and Environmental Stewardship; Food Safety and Security; Economic Development and Workforce Preparedness; Family Health, Financial Security and Wellness; and Youth Development.

Financial support for local Extension operations is greatly appreciated, whether as contributions or program fees for attendance at Extension events, and volunteers are always welcome. To learn more about how you can be a part of your local U of I Extension, visit or contact your county office:

Jo Daviess County, (815) 858-2273

Stephenson County, (815) 235-4125

Winnebago County, (815) 986-4357.

From the Dec. 8-14, 2010 issue

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