JOLIET – The Will County Board is expected to approve an increase in funding for the University of Illinois Extension at tomorrow’s monthly board meeting. The Extension provides resources and education tools for young people and adults in Grundy, Kankakee and Will Counties. The Board will allocate $75,000 for these programs, an increase from $50,000 in previous years. In 2021, Extension programming logged 13,934 of volunteer hours and reached 12,186 individuals.
The extension serves all areas of Will County, including a group of youth who enrolled in a 4-H consumer economics class. Attendees learned about the importance of budgeting, saving, investing and making career choices. After completing a series of requirements, including a mock interview, the students were given a $40 gift card to practice their new fiscal skills.
“The Extension’s financial literacy classes are an excellent resource for our community. These classes encourage financial independence and ultimately reduce the amount of people relying on support from the government. It’s a win-win,” said County Board Member and Finance Chair, Jackie Traynere, Bolingbrook.
The Extension’s success story includes SNAP-Education which hosted 248 nutrition classes in 2021. These courses impart complete instruction for both English and Spanish speakers while, “informing and empowering SNAP-eligible audiences to adopt healthier habits that meet their needs and lifestyles,” according to the University of Illinois Extension 2021 Illinois Impact Report.
“I look forward to seeing how the next generation of students will benefit from this vast, research-based resource we have right here in Will County,” said Board Member Judy Ogalla, Monee. “The Extension benefits a variety of Will County residents, whether they are rural, suburban or urban.”
Throughout the pandemic, while groceries were struggling to keep food on the shelves, the extension offered weekly Master Gardener classes and distributed instructional materials and seeds. This programming is particularly helpful in food deserts throughout the region where it is challenging to access healthy food options.
“We are grateful for the education provided by the University of Illinois Extension,” said Board Majority Leader, Meta Mueller, Aurora. “My hope is these classes help alleviate some of the pressure and anxiety families are feeling due to the pandemic.”
The University of Illinois Extension in Will County provides practical translations of cutting-edge research to help people, businesses and communities find answers to some of the most pressing issues of our modern world. Their work is guided by a desire to create meaningful progress toward addressing a select group of issues, which we call grand challenges. More information can be found at: www.extension.illinois.edu/gkw