Where do you go to find answers to questions that affect your life or livelihood? The internet is a useful tool, but sometimes it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Purdue Extension offers research-based information to local people.

First, the Whitley County Extension office has recently moved from its old location on Line Street in Columbia City to 524 Branch Court (across from Ace Hardware) in Columbia City. Come visit us.

So, what is it we do? In short, Purdue Extension’s mission is practical education. Research is conducted at Purdue University, and Purdue Extension helps local residents access and understand that research as it relates to their lives and livelihoods. Just think of us as your local connection to Purdue University research. If a question involves agriculture, natural resources, consumerism, family or youth, that’s right up our alley.

To put it another way, Purdue Extension “extends” the research-based knowledge of the university to local people to help them make informed decisions.

Our four main program areas are: agriculture and natural resources, health and human sciences, 4-H youth development and community development. My area is agriculture and natural resources (which also includes home lawn, landscape and garden issues, plus the popular Master Gardener program). Cindy Barnett heads up health and human sciences, and Todd Geiger administers the 4-H youth development program. 4-H is obviously one of our most visible programs in the community.

On a practical level, let’s say you want to know the going rate for custom farm operations, you have insect pest problems, or you want to know proper food preservation methods. Purdue Extension has research-based information and publications that can help you make a more informed decision as you move forward or deal with the situation. If it’s a question we don’t immediately have access to through our extensive library of information, we can consult a specialist at Purdue to offer additional insight on the on the issue. If Purdue doesn’t have the breadth of information we need, sometimes we can gain additional reliable information from neighboring land-grant institutions within USDA’s Cooperative Extension System.

Local residents have often called the Purdue Extension office because they just needed a place to start. That’s okay, too. Sometimes, rather than answering the full extent of your question, it is appropriate for us to refer your question to another institution or professional, such as it may be with legal or specific health-related issues.

We take the guessing out of whether the information is reliable or not, as you get many times with internet-based information. If you want a quick suggestion for doing internet searches that have a greater likelihood of producing research-based answers to these types of questions, add “edu” or “Purdue” in the search bar after your key words. Or, give us a call and talk to a real person!

So, you have questions, we have answers. Give your local Purdue Extension office a call. There is a Purdue Extension office in every county in Indiana. In Whitley County, the number is 260-244-7615. Find our web page at To find us on Facebook, search for Purdue Extension – Whitley County.

John Woodmansee is an extension educator in Whitley and Noble counties.

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