In the last couple days the extension.org website has had a number of posts on various aspects of the "Master Gardener" program (also a bunch on swine). (Briefly, this is a program where Extension trains people in gardener, then they go out and train ordinary, run of the mill gardeners, novices, etc.) See here.
I recently posted on the cuts in extension in Illinois. I think in a rational world we would probably rethink and redo the structure of the extension service. Currently it's tied to the land grant colleges, one per state. Traditionally it had one or more agents in each county, though that's changed over the years. But in a world of modern communication, is it really rational for each New England state to have its own setup? I wonder how much duplication one could find in the work of the different colleges. (I suspect there are efforts at coordination, but my cynicism is strong enough that I doubt the results.)
Transparency in government is good, and reaching out to the grassroots is good, so master gardeners are good. But I wonder. Part of my wondering is due to the fact that the Reston library used to have master gardeners in attendance on Saturdays, they got some business, but I haven't seen them for a couple years. I wonder how effective the program has been.