My new friend, neighbor and now garden blogger J informed me yesterday that the Illinois Extension Office is in dire straights. Apparently the money that was budgeted for them is now being withheld and as a result, lots of people are losing their jobs. You can read more about this over at J's new garden blog. She's currently enrolled in their Master Gardener program online so she was notified about this right away as her program could be in jeopardy. As a side note, I'm very pissed that I didn't know they had an online option - I could be an almost Master Gardener right now! GB and I have both been wanting to do this but the only class we knew of was offered on Wednesday's during the day when I am forced to work for "the man".
edited to include the link to the online MG program http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/cook/mgchicago/downloads.html
Now back to the Illinois Extension Office tragedy. I blame Governor Blagojevich , that expletive! I'm still in the process of researching this but I'm virtually certain that he's responsible. As soon as he was sworn in he started doing all sorts of crazy stuff. He hasn't been involved in any sex scandals (that I know of) but he does weird stuff with our tax dollars and every time I turn around he's doing something stupid like this. Why am I so mad? Because guess who voted for him?
Here's what I don't get. This dude is a Democrat and Democrats are suppose to be all enlightened about global warming, right? I mean we are the ones who look upon the other party with that you-poor-thing-you-just-don't-know-any-better attitude when they try to say that global warming is just propaganda, aren't we? So what sense does it make to take steps that will surely eliminate a program that is responsible for educating and sustaining the people who totally get the global warming problem and how to fix it? I mean I suppose I could be making some reaching assumptions to suggest that people who work for, support and are educated by the Illinois Extension Office are nature lovers and therefore automatically do things to reverse or at least not contribute to global warning, but do you disagree? The only reason I make this connection is because of my own personal experience with gardening. I haven't sat down to do a root cause analysis of how it happened, I just know that when I started gardening, I became way more aware of the environment and global warming and how what I do contributes to it as well as how I could make changes that would help the planet. Growing native flowers and veggies, compost, worms it's all connected to saving the planet and the Illinois Extension Office is in the business of teaching us about all that stuff, right? When I first started gardening, I was directed to the Illinois Extension Office by several garden bloggers and I now refer to it regularly for all sorts of crap. Most recently I reached out to them to make sure my new Tamarix wasn't on the invasive plant list in my area. Thank you again for responding so quickly, extension office!
"State Extension personnel are scrambling to come up with a plan by May 1st on how to operate on just half of the matching funds originally appropriated through the state’s agriculture department. Money withheld from the Illinois Extension Service is expected to have a drastic effect.
“We’re going to lose about 450 positions,” said Gary Beaumont, spokesman for University of Illinois Extension Service, in reference to the jobs that are anticipated to be eliminated because of the withheld money.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture broke the news to the Illinois Extension Service last week that Governor Blagojevich won’t release the allocated money, which could result in the loss of 450 local extension office jobs statewide. The biggest chunk of the shortfall is $12.8 million in matching funds in addition to a separate initiative in the amount of $5 million that provides for 96 positions in Cook County alone."
I told my new friend J that she'd be amazed at the power that garden bloggers have. I have seen them mobilize in support of people whose gardens were in jeopardy and their voices were heard and they made things happen. We all know those super hero girls over at Garden Rant are always coming to the rescue of something or somebody and I always remember the role they played in saving Jean's garden. So I ask you, garden bloggers, tell us what to do to help this cause. I'm all for a big ass political movement for something like this but the problem is that I'm clueless what exactly I can do that will actually be effective. If you have some ideas, please share them with us, and if what is happening to this office effects you in any way, please speak up. We need you.
Dear Governer Blagojevich - shame on you!