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USDA, DOD Officially Launch Military Extension Partnership

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

CHICAGO, April 27, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) officially launched the USDA/DoD Military Extension Partnership today to support military service members and their families in their communities. A proclamation announcing the partnership was signed today at the 2011 USDA/DoD Family Resilience Conference in Chicago, Ill.

“USDA and DoD have worked together for more than 25 years to serve the needs of military families.  This latest expansion will give the established civilian network of extension offices a greater ability to help our service members and their loved ones,” said Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “Our extension system is woven into the fabric of communities across the country where our military families live in order to make this partnership with DoD an efficient and effective proposition for everyone involved.”

With the addition of more single parents, longer and multiple deployments, National Guard members and Reserve forces, the U.S. military is changing. Similarly, while once primarily stationed “on base,” service members and their families now live in communities throughout the nation. The Family Resilience Conference is the first joint conference offered by the USDA and DoD to address the needs of today’s service members and their families. Nearly 2,000 military personnel, cooperative extension educators and others serving military families gathered together to identify ways to provide military families with what they need where they live.

Earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden launched the “Joining Forces” initiative to address the concerns and challenges of our military families. This military-extension partnership is part of that initiative and leverages the resources of the Cooperative Extension Service, which is supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

With headquarters at America’s 111 land-grant universities, extension reaches clients in every county of the nation.  The extension infrastructure has been the mechanism for delivering research-based information and technology to farmers, ranchers and foresters for generations, and in more recent years, has been used to assist urban dwellers, business owners and other government agencies. Extension also is the organizational home for 4-H, one of the premier youth development programs in the nation. The military already partners with 4-H in its “Operation: Military Kids” program; this new partnership will build on that work.

This partnership is aimed at accomplishing three primary objectives to address the emerging needs of military families:

  • Increasing and strengthening community capacity in support of military families,
  • Increasing professional and workforce development opportunities for those working with military families, and
  • Expanding and strengthening family, childcare and youth development programs.


Some programs include:

  • The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, a web-based, one-stop shop for service providers working with military families. In addition to a comprehensive library of program curricula and activities, the clearinghouse also provides an effectiveness index so providers can make better decisions about what will work in their community.
  • Project Y.E.S, a youth extension service aimed at recruiting college students who are proven youth leaders who can be role models and mentors for other young people. Their mission is to engage and train other student groups to augment volunteer efforts on behalf of military families in local communities.
  • The 4-H Military Internship Program, which places college student interns in child development, school age or youth programs within the Armed Services.


Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is available at:


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).