New UF Web site gives consumers, industry professionals one-stop source for extension information
May 15, 2006.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Everyone from homeowners trying to save on utility bills to citrus growers seeking the latest pest information can get answers from University of Florida experts at Solutions for Your Life, a new Web site debuting May 16.
Located at www.solutionsforyourlife.com and sponsored by UF’s extension service, the site provides consumers and industry professionals with a one-stop source of information on family life, gardening, agriculture, the environment and other topics. Massive in size and scope, Solutions for Your Life is a gateway to extension, research and education resources from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“This is the first time UF/IFAS has had such a comprehensive Web presence, and we believe it demonstrates how a university can improve its public outreach,” said Larry Arrington, dean for extension. “We’re really excited about this project and expect it to help Floridians improve their lives in many ways.”
Solutions for Your Life collects hundreds of how-to publications, educational programs, fact sheets and technical reports, Arrington said. It also links to Web sites for state and federal agencies, land-grant universities and professional organizations.
The site includes timely feature articles, an events calendar, a database of frequently asked questions, employment opportunities, and contact information for extension offices in each of Florida’s 67 counties. It will be updated continually with new publications, links and photos, he said.
At Farm Credit of Central Florida in Lakeland, Vice President of Marketing Ron O’Connor said he believes the UF Web site will be useful to both longtime Florida residents and newcomers.
“In my line of work, I’m acquainted with many agricultural producers, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate having a new way to access information from the UF extension service,” O’Connor said. “I also meet people who are purchasing homes and land because they plan to move to Florida, and I think this Web site will give them a great jump-start on learning how to care for their properties and appreciate the natural beauty of our state.”
Though many Floridians use extension services and programs, not everyone is aware of the full scope of resources available, Arrington said.
Extension is the public-outreach segment of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where experts take research findings and relate that information to daily life, he said. Traditionally associated with farming and livestock production, extension faculty members provide educational programs for residents on everything from child development and home maintenance to hurricane preparedness and boating safety.
Solutions for Your Life emphasizes material that could be useful anywhere in the state, he said. Information specific to individual counties – such as schedules for workshops, meetings and volunteer opportunities – is available from county extension offices. The site includes contact information for all extension offices in the state.
“This Web site isn’t meant to replace direct contact with extension offices, but it’s the next best thing, and it’s available around the clock,” Arrington said.
In development for more than a year, Solutions for Your Life was created to meet consumer demand for better online access to extension resources. The site was designed for ease of use and visual appeal. It also complies with federal guidelines to make the content accessible to users with disabilities.
Apart from advice and information, Solutions for Your Life includes real-life success stories showing how extension benefits the state and its residents.
“Our mission is to help all Florida residents, and the Internet provides a great way to reach more of them,” Arrington said. “There’s something for everyone on Solutions for Your Life, and we hope users will agree.”
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