About Orange County Extension Service (OCES)

Extension - The third arm of the land grant system was provided by the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. This Act established the Cooperative Extension Service and specified that the service would be associated with a land grant college. The University of Florida in Gainesville is Florida's land-grant university. The transfer of knowledge from UF to people throughout the state is facilitated by "Extension" faculty located in each of Florida's 67 counties. This partnership between counties and the university is the heart of the "Cooperative" Extension Service mission and enables the university to extend its knowledge base to each community.

Orange County entered into this educational partnership earlier than most counties by acquiring it's first County Agent on February 23, 1914. A Home Demonstration Agent (Home Economics) was added to staff in 1914 and the Agriculture Agent (Animal Industries) was added in 1938. Over the next 56 years, six different County Agents served Orange County as the population grew from 20,000 to over 350,000 residents.

Other agents were added and staff grew as population projections indicated greater needs of educational programs. Another Home Economics Agent was added in 1956, a Horticulture Agent in 1959, a 4-H Coordinator in 1968, a Commerical Horticulture Agent in 1966 and an Urban Horticulture Agent in 1966.

The mission of extending and implementing research-based information to the people of Orange County has not changed, however the information and delivery methods have enormously improved. The driving force for these information delivery methods are the needs of citizens in the county. County extension faculty develop educational programs based on issues such as sustainable agriculture, competitiveness in world markets, natural resource conservation, energy conservation, food safety, child and family development, consumer credit counseling, and youth development. These priority issues form the basis for major educational programs that are conducted.