When you go to the North Fort Myers Community Park and come across the building that doubles as the concession stand and locker rooms for the Red Knights Pop Warner program, you might want to go back.
This is where the 4-H office is located. But since it is not always busy, there is another agency that shares it, which also serves the community and the entire county in general.
The University of Florida’s Food and Agricultural Science Extension Institute is a partnership of state, federal, and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public.
Thousands of faculty members, scientists, educators, administrative staff and volunteers all work together to develop knowledge in agriculture, natural resources and life sciences and make it accessible to the public.
With so many people moving to southwest Florida and more east, UF-IFAS has become more important than ever.
This is especially important in inland rural areas like North Fort Myers, one of the last areas in Lee County that still has a lot of rural land.
Thus, the raison d’être of the North Fort Myers office that UF-IFAS has occupied for years. The fact that his building at Terry Park in Fort Myers is being renovated makes the park office more important.
Many of the volunteers are master gardeners who travel the community to teach at recreation centers, summer camps and other locations, said David Outerbridge, county extension director with UF-IFAS County Extension. of Lee.
“We serve every county and every county is different, depending on their needs. We have several different science program areas,” Outerbridge said. “It’s diverse, but we have the expertise to draw on, so if someone has a question that we can’t answer directly, we can find out through search.”
Among the programs is one in family and consumer sciences, which is food safety, management, canning, food preservation, and health and safety around the home.
Many of these programs are offered at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center, as well as Lee County Garden Clubs. UF-IFAS tries to reach all areas of the county to meet everyone’s needs.
“We are running landscaping and master gardening programs, some of which will be hybrid in-person and virtual. Our last master gardener course was at the beginning of this year and they are about to graduate,” Outerbridge said. “We had these classes at Byrne Davis Garden, but we also had them at North Fort Myers and Terry Park.”
UF-IFAS also participates in the Citrus Expo held annually at the Lee Civic Center. Outerbridge said he was primarily involved in urban agriculture, such as Florida-friendly landscaping and edible gardening.
UF-IFAS also offers consultations on plant pests and diseases, agriculture, pesticides, business planning, management and facilitation, deliberative discussions and strategic planning, among many other services, said Outerbridge.
In Lee County, they also work with local stakeholder groups such as the Healthy Lee Coalition, Lee County School Board, Healthy Living Collaboration, and numerous nonprofits, municipal and county government departments as well than other educational institutions.
The office also writes articles, blogs, publishes research, presents research nationally and internationally, and participates in local, state and regional boards and committees with UF, Outerbridge said.
North Fort Myers Community Park is located at 2000 North Recreation Park Way.
Visit sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/ for more information and to view UF-IFAS Extension e-learning opportunities.