HNFE's Extension and Outreach program plays critical roles in the department’s translational mission. The goal of Extension and Outreach is to put knowledge to work – and to be the arm of the university that reaches out to communities and disseminates research. The majority of extension and outreach activities in the department are coordinated by Extension Specialists, who also conduct research and teach courses.
Students have plentiful opportunities to get real world experience through extension and outreach activities in the department, such as:
All universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation's more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities, have a third critical mission—extension. "Extension" means "reaching out," and—along with teaching and research—land-grant institutions like Virginia Tech "extend" their resources, solving public needs with college or university resources through non-formal, non-credit educational programs.
Congress created the extension system nearly a century ago to address exclusively rural, agricultural issues. At that time, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, and 30 percent of the workforce was engaged in farming. Extension's engagement with rural America helped make possible the American agricultural revolution, which dramatically increased farm productivity.
Today, Extension extends beyond agriculture in order to address changing times and landscapes and covers six major areas: