Welcome to Benton County, Arkansas
Cooperative Extension Service
The Benton County Cooperative Extension Service is a part of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service's statewide network and the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.
Our mission is to provide research-based information through non-formal education to help all Arkansans improve their economic well-being and the quality of their lives. Whether it is agriculture, 4-H, health and living, or community development, the Benton County Extension Office is at your service!
Family & Consumers
According to the county health rankings, Benton County is ranked the healthiest county in Arkansas. Although there are many resources available to assist individuals and families, there are areas that need improvement. A large percentage of children and families receive assistance to meet their nutrition and health needs. Through Extension Family & Consumer Science programs, individuals and families learned to prepare healthier meals and increase physical activity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Through the SNAP-Ed programs, six hundred and eighty-one adults and children learned to plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks to include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Of the 71 participants in Cooking Matters classes, 49 adopted one or more food resource practices and 24 used nutrition labels to make healthier food choices. Through other nutrition and health programs, participants reported they adopted healthy eating habits, increased fruit and vegetable consumption and adopted healthier behaviors. Wellness class participants improved flexibility, strength and balance. To learn how to live well or for more information about these programs, contact Susan Pickle, Family & Consumer Science agent at the Benton County office.
Photo: Healthy Eating with MyPlate nutrition program presented to child care providers in 2013.
Gardening & Landscaping
The Master Gardener program in Benton County is one of the largest in Arkansas. In 2013 the statewide conference was hosted by Benton County. Over 100 Benton County Master Gardeners assisted in the support and operation of the conference which included about 650 visitors from around the state. Sponsors, primarily local, provided about 19 percent of the conference budget. The trade show, the largest in conference history, included 27 vendors. The show, which opened on Thursday, was open to the public through Saturday for everyone to enjoy. Overall economic impact to Northwest Arkansas is estimated at $300,000 - $400,000.
The horticulture programs are not just Master Gardener oriented, but available to everyone. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Benton County assists county residents with information needed to safeguard the environment as they maintain healthy lawns, beautiful landscapes and productive vegetable gardens. We also take our program into the schools and outdoor classroom settings to enhance the learning process through hands-on educational projects. For more information contact Neal Mays, CEA-Horticulture.
Photo: Golden Delicious Pineapple Sage.
Livestock & Forage
Boasting the state's top agriculture economy, Benton County has a long history of elevating the economic importance of diverse commodities. Apples, tomatoes, beef and dairy cattle, pork, poultry and all essential service/supply, agri-business and agri-agency support required by each serves to fill the pages of Benton County history. In this exciting county, a new page is written each day as urban horticulture and small farm interests continue to expand along with the population, recognized as one of the most rapid growing in the state. All levels of agriculture (commercial, home and hobby) continue to search for opportunities to harmonize economic, productive and aesthetical methods with environmental and regulatory changes.
Photo: Hay Field
Benton County 4-H'ers Making Their Future Brighter
Studies have shown that there is a decrease in STEM proficiency in the U.S. According to Cognizant’s Making the Future Program, not only has proficiency declined but they have seen a decline in measured creativity. Benton Co. 4-H Clover Design Lab has allowed youth to learn about new technologies and be creative while working with others. Participants created projects using sergers, screen printing, embroidery, vinyl heat transfers and 3D printing. A $22,000 grant was secured by Benton County 4-H Club Foundation, Inc. from Cognizant’s Making the Future Program to purchase the innovative technology and supplies. Twenty 4-H’ers completed a combined 198 projects during 64 hours of workshops. 100% of participants now feel more comfortable embracing new technologies and are more knowledgeable on how to create using the new equipment. Participants demonstrated 3D printing during County fair to over 150 people. Four youth traveled to the World Maker Faire held at the New York Hall of Science to Teach over 75 youth to sew a project they had learned in Clover Design Lab. Volunteers donated over 100 hours of preparation & instructing lab, valued at $2,136.
Potential members must attend two meetings prior to enrollment. Click here to find a 4-H Club near you today! For additional information on 4-H in Benton County, contact Jessica Street or Janice Shofner.
Photo: 4-H Clover
There is an abundance of water resources in Benton County especially when you consider that it is divided among five different watersheds, including the Beaver Reservoir. Beaver Lake is the first of four reservoirs built along the White River and currently serves as the drinking water supply for more than 400,000 area residents. A rapidly expanding urban population, the accompanying construction and increased impervious surfaces coupled with thriving industries and agricultural production can all have an impact on these important waterways.
Therefore, water quality education has become a priority in Benton County in recent decades. Extension program efforts emphasize voluntary pollution prevention practices that collectively protect and improve the quality of water resources on a regional scale. Nearly 3000 students participated in experiential learning activities last year and two conferences for the construction community, design engineers, and landscape architecture professionals were held locally. The Upstream Art Program continues to increase in popularity and locations providing an artistic link between water quality education and street art.
Photo: Stormwater Education program logo.
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is a program of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Extension and Research. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Cooperative Extension Service fund the program. The Mission of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is to empower individuals, families, and youth with limited resources acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior changes necessary to maintain nutritionally sound diets and enhance personal development.
EFNEP adults report making better food choices as well as budgeting food dollars as they plan meals ahead of time. Participants in Benton County also report an increase in physical activity. Nearly 550 nutritional classes and food demonstrations were conducted in 2013 for the Hispanic populations in Northwest Arkansas.
Photo: EFNEP program assistant Elia Reyes presenting EFNEP certificates to program graduates.