WSU's Jefferson County Extension facing deep cutbacks

Pamela Roberts, 4-H and youth coordinator at Washington State University Extension Center in Port Hadlock, said even if the center closes she plans to stay involved with the youth and community in Jefferson County.
-- Photo by Erik Hidle/Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK -- Washington State University's Extension Center faces deep cutbacks in state funding that could curtail its programs offered in Jefferson County.

Katherine Baril, Extension director, said Monday that proposed budget cuts to the university system could potentially end some of the Jefferson programs, which range from 4-H animal husbandry to real estate education.

"Washington State University, along with all higher education in the state, has been asked for a 10 to 12 percent budget cut," Baril said.

"Now a second request has come in for around a 20 percent budget cut.

"Depending on what the final figure is, it could take away 50 to 75 percent of the community outreach at the extension center."

The cuts are a part of Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposal to balance the 2009-2011 biennium budget statewide in the face of a projected $8 billion deficit.

Baril said that 75 percent cuts are the most drastic estimate being proposed.

"This is at all the extensions statewide and locally," she said, "but right now all our programs are at risk."

Among the programs the WSU Extension funds and organizes are 4-H and youth leadership programs, economic development programs, Master Gardeners, water quality and natural resource programs, food and farm networking, real estate agent education, fire prevention and forestry, Team Jefferson economic development council and long distance education and degree programs.

Pamela Roberts, coordinator of 4-H and other youth services, said the Extension's reach often goes further than just the programs.

"Almost everything that goes on in this county has us involved at some level," Roberts said.

"It's like a huge spider web."

'Huge asset'

Roberts said every resident in the county has access to the facility and services they provide.

"This is a huge asset to the county," she said.

"It's one of the largest extension centers in the state and is very important for such a rural community."

Roberts said she was worried about the prospect of losing her job, but she is still going to keep plugging away.

Even as she discussed the budget, she continued to highlight upcoming programs and services for the community.

"On March 1, we are having a gardening seminar to teach people about personal and family gardening," she said.

"We want to help people save some money and get some food on the table."

The seminar is March 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chimacum Grange Hall, 9521 Rhody Drive, Chimacum.

"I think these are remarkable time we are living through," Roberts said.

"When that happens it means we need to get together and work together as a team."

The extension center management is hoping that people will be willing to write letters of support to state representatives. Roberts is also collecting letters from the community and passing them on to people at higher levels.

Youth service

She said that even if the worst was to happen, she would still be showing up to work with youth in some way.

"4-H is the largest youth organization in the county," she said.

"We served 900 kids last year.

"Personally I understand the university is going to be challenged, but I will do everything to continue to serve the youth in this community."

To contact the Extension, phone 360-379-5610 or visit


Reporter Erik Hidle can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: February 24. 2009 4:45AM