About us

Cooperative Extension provides non-formal education and learning opportunities to youth and adults throughout the United States — to farmers and families of rural communities as well as people living in suburban and urban areas. Most universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation’s more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities have a third, critical mission — outreach and extension.

As Rhode Island’s land-grant institution, the University of Rhode Island, through Cooperative Extension, brings vital, practical information to agricultural producers, small business owners, communities, consumers, families, and young people. We pride ourselves on our role in translating science for practical application and are always looking to identify emerging research questions. We share those questions with researchers to find answers and encourage application of science and technology to improve agricultural, environmental, economic, and social conditions.

Leadership Message

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is dedicated to delivering science-based information and learning opportunities to people throughout Rhode Island — from Providence to Westerly. Extension is an integral partner, ensuring that community needs, and challenges are communicated with researchers and applying knowledge gained through research and education in an impactful way with local communities. We work with individuals, communities, and industry, providing access to face-to-face and online education. In Rhode Island, Cooperative Extension staff and faculty focus on the most critical issues to our state, and we leverage the efforts of dedicated volunteers to develop youth into successful, contributing adults; improve water quality; reduce food waste and hunger; and to beautify the state through sustainable gardening.


In 1904, President Butterfield and A.E. Stene (then Superintendent of College Extension) organized an extension department at the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. This department advocated the application of research-based knowledge in resolving problems within human communities. The department eventually evolved into the present-day URI Cooperative Extension and was a forerunner of the national extension system, which was formed with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 creating the Cooperative Extension System at USDA.

The Rhode Island 4-H Program has been active since the early 1920’s teaching Rhode Island youth life skills and how to be productive citizens continually learning and leading the way.

Today, URI Cooperative Extension is part of the national Extension System, in partnership with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We are part of more than 100 land-grant universities and more than 3,000 county offices across the nation. Cooperative Extension combines the expertise and resources of federal, state, and local governments and is designed to meet the need for research, knowledge and educational programs.

– Lisa Townson, Associate Dean, Extension and Agricultural Programs

Civil Rights Info.

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is committed to equal access and opportunity, and to ensuring all reasonable effort is made to deliver and to provide access to Extension programs and services for all individuals. URI Cooperative Extension strives to ensure that all educational programs, services, activities, and materials we offer to the public are identified, developed, delivered, and evaluated in an inclusive, equitable, and socially just manner.

URI Cooperative Extension strives to fight for equal distribution of resources and opportunities to ensure equitable access to science among all cultures and backgrounds, regardless of race, color, or socioeconomic status. Food, environmental and energy justice is social and racial justice, and that is part of what underlies our work. We will continue to work for change and cultivate an environment that upholds the values of equity and inclusion. As an organization seeking to serve diverse cultures and populations, we are committed to increasing our own cultural awareness and learning how to be a stronger ally and actively be anti-racist.

URI Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination in all its programs, services, activities, and materials on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, familial/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, genetic information, veteran’s status, reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

All Extension participants and members of the university community may raise concerns of discrimination, harassment, and bullying with the URI Office of Equal Opportunity – https://web.uri.edu/affirmativeaction/discrimination/reporting/

How to File a USDA Program Discrimination Complaint?

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at https://www.usda.gov/oascr and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all the information requested in the form.

To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov.