Jefferson and Madison Counties encompass an expansive 5,262 square miles of Southwest Montana and are home to nearly 21,000 residents. Agriculture, mining, recreation, and tourism represent the top industries these counties have to offer. Centrally located between the two counties, our office is in the unofficial Southwest Montana hub of Whitehall. Shared MSU Extension services have been available in Madison and Jefferson counties since 1936, and a sole agent served in Madison County as early as 1917. Currently, the office staffs two Extension Agents and one support staff who offer programs in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and 4-H/Youth Development.



4-H & Youth Development


4-H Program Grows

The Madison-Jefferson 4-H Program hosted two successful fairs this year. Volunteers from both counties provided youth and families with healthy competition, sale opportunities, community awareness, and fun. The Madison-Jefferson 4-H & FFA livestock sale had another record-setting year thanks to generous and supportive community members. A large group of Cloverbuds attended both fairs this year. Cloverbuds is a program for youth ages five to seven years old, who participate in non-competitive activities and focus on developing age-appropriate skills and abilities. They watched and learned from older 4-Her’s at the fair to experience what it takes to care for and show an animal.


Cloverbuds at the Madison County Fair

Caption: Cloverbuds at the Madison County Fair

Credit: Merissa Ford


Agriculture & Natural Resources


Land Stewardship Workshops

In May, our office partnered with the Jefferson County Weed Department to bring two Land Stewardship Workshops to our communities. Jefferson County residents gathered in Clancy and Whitehall to hear from local experts on the topics of wildlife, water rights, noxious weeds, pasture management, and understanding soils. As these communities grow, many newer residents are managing land for the first time. We strive to connect these land managers to the appropriate resources as well as introduce them to local agency staff, so they know who to turn to in the future. These workshops have been well received by local landowners. More are planned for 2023, expanding topics to cover wildfire safety as it relates to defensible space around a home.


Land Stewardship Workshop in Whitehall

Caption: Land Stewardship Workshop in Whitehall

Credit: Kaleena Miller


4-H & Youth Development


Farm and Ranch Tours

This summer our office partnered with the 21st Century Afterschool program for a fun day of learning about agriculture from some local producers. The day began at an organic vegetable farm where the kids learned what it takes to grow organic produce, harvest chicken eggs and raise dairy goats. The day ended with an alpaca farm tour, where the kids learned about alpacas, their history and all the things that can be made from their fiber. They even got to pet a baby alpaca and learn about their unique behaviors and sounds.



A woman holds an alpaca inside of a barn

Caption: Heart and Soul Alpaca Farm

Credit: Merissa Ford


Agriculture & Natural Resources


Estate Planning

MSU Extension’s estate planning guru, Marsha Goetting, spent a lot of time in Madison and Jefferson Counties in 2023. In January, she kicked off a Rancher Roundtable series with a workshop in Alder titled “Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation.” Producers learned about legal, economic, and family social decisions as they relate to estate planning. In March, Goetting returned to deliver three presentations reaching the communities of Clancy, Boulder, and Whitehall. Residents filled the rooms to tackle important and tough topics such as power of attorney, gift-giving, living trusts, and more. Madison-Jefferson Extension staff have co-authored monthly newspaper articles on estate planning since 2021, reaching thousands of residents in both counties.



A woman points to Montguides displayed in a rack.

Caption: MontGuides on Display

Credit: Kaleena Miller


4-H & Youth Development


Outdoor Youth Education

In the fall, we contributed to the Kid’s River Resource Day hosted by the Ruby Valley Conservation District. A group of 106 students from local schools learned the difference between freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Each class also participated in an experiment on the differing densities of saltwater and freshwater. By the end of the demonstration, they could see that saltwater was more dense than freshwater, with some things floating and others sinking. We finished with a tasty Skittles candy experiment that demonstrated how salt particles combine with freshwater to flow through our river systems and into the ocean.


A group of youth stand under a tent gathered around a table.

Caption: Youth Learning About Saltwater and Freshwater

Credit: Merissa Ford







103 West Legion Ave
Whitehall, MT 59759


Montana State University Extension is an ADA/EO/AA Veteran’s Preference Employer and provider of educational outreach.