Declining budgets and difficulty hiring agents have led to many counties in Kansas consolidating into larger Extension districts under the umbrella of K-State Research and Extension services.
Stafford County and Edwards County agents see advantages to a combination between the two counties that would enable them to provide better services to their constituents.
“It’s true, as they say, that most of us are better together or two of something is better than one,” said K-State Research and Extension Agent Stafford County Amy Collins. “The same holds true for rural areas trying to stay relevant, progressive and be resilient in an ever-changing world.”
Collins said K-State Research & Extension, which provides resources and information for many of the county’s 4-H and agricultural based programs, is an extension of Kansas State University.
“Our job is to provide educational information and programs in the areas of agriculture, family and community wellness, 4-H and youth development, and community vitality,” she said. “Within those four areas, we break it down into even smaller segments to meet the needs of all people in the county.”
After the first year of redistricting, the combined extension service would become its own taxing entity and equalize payments from both counties
"There would be a governing board with four members appointed by each county commission," Stafford County Commissioner Kurt Fairchild said. "There would be a cap of 2.5 mills, which means that tax dollars could go up or down, but in the long run will result in a savings for everyone, with better services provided for our needs.
Since 1914, K-State Research & Extension has had a presence in all 105 counties in Kansas, but changes in technology have taken place since then and services required or requested have changed as well.
As of 2019, 55 counties have formed districts or gone through the districting process in order to pool resources and better serve community needs in those areas. The most recent districts have been formed in southwest Kansas where Stevens, Haskell and Seward counties are now the Wild West district. As of October, Finney and Scott counties are in the process of forming an extension district.
Many other conversations about districting are happening in other counties across the state, those not in conversation about forming districts could get left as an island of their own.