It was a long time coming, but Chesterfield County has a new extension office.
The Cooperative Extension office relocated in late February from the old clerk of court’s office in the county governmental complex to the central library at the end of Lori Road. County extension agent Mike Likins remembers the move being considered as far back as 2011.
Likins, who also serves as extension office director, said the move has provided more space for the county’s agriculture, family and consumer sciences and 4-H programs.
Their former space was like a “rabbit’s warren” with several turns, nooks and crannies, he said.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” Likins said of the new digs, which share the building that also houses the Central Library. The library is scheduled to reopen in mid-to-late June after some 18 months of remodeling, Likins said.
A window between the children’s section of the library and the extension office’s laboratory will enable children to see “science in action,” he said.
In addition to the lab, the extension office also includes an area for master gardeners to work, a conference room, a classroom with a kitchen, numerous individual offices and quite a bit of open space.
The extension office will work “tongue-in-groove” with the library, Likins said, noting that both will offer community programs such as a cooking school with a demonstration kitchen and a demonstration garden that are planned for later this year. 4-H also plans to offer summer day camp programs for the first time beginning in July.
“There is no state office that has anything similar” to Chesterfield’s extension office, Likins said, noting that another county’s extension agent called it the “gold standard” for Virginia.
A plant pathologist by trade – otherwise known as the office’s “dead plant person” – Likins has had his job for over 16 years. He notes that the extension office is a cooperative effort between Virginia Tech and Virginia State universities and the county. “We want to ‘extend’ information from the university to folks who could use it,” he said. “If it’s got chlorophyll, blood, water or mineral content, we deal with it.”
The county plans to remodel the extension office’s former location in the future, Likins said, adding that its use has yet to be determined.