State Regional And County Organization

Organizational structure of the Cooperative Extension Services varies greatly in size from state to state. In general, leadership of Cooperative Extension Services within each state is the responsibility of the dean and/or director of the agricultural college of the land-grant university and/or 1890 institution within each state. These directors provide leadership to an administrative staff that often includes associate and/or assistant deans of extension, directors of county operations, department heads and/or extension program leaders within various scientific disciplines, and directors of units that support programming. In states with numerous counties, the organizational structure often includes regional administrators that serve under the Cooperative Extension director.

The extension director, along with administrators within each scientific discipline, also oversees a faculty of extension specialists. These specialists serve as educational resources to county agents and their clientele in various subject matter/disciplines. Extension specialists are most often administratively based within their academic department and may be located on the main campus of the land-grant university, at experiment stations or, occasionally, within county extension offices.

The organization of an extension office at the county level also varies greatly from state to state and county to county. In areas of the United States that have very low populations there are county offices with only one county extension agent, responsible for the administration and delivery of programming in all subject areas. In more populated areas, county extension offices often house several agents with program areas divided among agents.

Cooperative Extension at the County Level

The interface between extension entomologists on the state and county staff tends to follow a similar model in the majority of states. At the state level the positions are usually tied to a university academic unit and filled with a Ph.D.-level entomologist. These persons would either be full-time extension or have a partial extension appointment combined with other duties, including teaching and/or research. At the county level, job responsibilities and qualifications may vary; however, some common models are evident. County-level extension entomologists usually are termed agents, advisors, or educators, terms used synonymously within this article. Additionally, entomology positions typically fall under either Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) or 4-H and Youth programmatic areas.

County agents initially were itinerant teachers hired for their practical farm and home experiences. Today extension educators are highly trained, often specialized, professionals. Generally extension educator positions require a master's degree or a bachelor's degree with significant related experience. At least one degree in a discipline related to the specialty area is usually required. Specialty areas may include entomology but could be any related field such as botany, plant pathology, agronomy, horticulture, general agriculture, soil science, or animal science. Forty-one percent of educators have one-half or more of their job assignments in agriculture. County agents with agricultural backgrounds are expanding their roles to serve urban/suburban clientele as programs such as Master Gardeners become more successful.

County-based extension entomologists, whether ANR or 4-H and youth based, need to be highly skilled, technically based professionals with excellent people, writing, and presentation skills; multitasking abilities; and willingness to work flexible hours.

Extension Specialists

Although extension agents are located in the counties and are expected to have broad expertise, extension specialists typically are housed on university campuses and specialize in discipline areas. The position of Cooperative Extension Specialist is one of statewide leadership toward university colleagues, agricultural industries, consumers, youth, policymakers, and governmental and other agencies. The specialist keeps campus and county colleagues and clientele apprised of emerging issues and research findings and directions, works with them to develop applications of research knowledge to specific problems, and provides educational leadership and technical information support for county staff/clientele.

A Cooperative Extension Specialist is a primary liaison with university research units, providing leadership, facilitating teamwork, developing collaborative relationships with colleagues, and ensuring appropriate external input into research and educational program planning by the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) and Cooperative Extension. Ideally, the AES—extension relationship is a seamless continuum, with extension identifying timely research opportunities to AES colleagues and conveying research results to clientele. The specialist also defines and considers needs of relevant clientele groups in planning, development, and execution of applied research and education programs.

extension teaching Specialists provide leadership for nonformal education of end users, intermediate users, and the public. In addition to directing planning and coordination of statewide extension education and information transfer programs related to areas of responsibility, specialists facilitate coordination of work group activities with appropriate internal and external organizations. Specialists serve as scientific and technical resources on work groups, providing disciplinary input and perspective.

Specialists' education efforts are directed toward four main clientele groups—county agents, producer/professional groups, public/private agencies, and the general public. They educate and serve as teaching resources in areas of responsibility for extension county/area personnel via individual consultations, conferences, and workshops. In addition to formal teaching at training sessions, specialists provide one-on-one consultation in person, electronically, and by telephone.

Specialists prepare and evaluate educational materials, such as publications, newsletters, slide sets, videotapes, computer software, and other learning aids, to extend subject matter information to county staff and the public sector. Because county agents are the main public interface, specialists focus on "training the trainers," developing county skills to serve clientele. In addition, specialists assist agents in customizing materials for their clientele and disseminate industry-appropriate articles through relevant channels.

Although term-length, resident classroom instruction is not the norm for full-time extension specialists, they may participate in teaching programs (via lectures and seminars) of relevant campus-based courses. Doing so permits specialists to serve as models for students developing careers in extension while fostering interactions with undergraduate and graduate students, providing these groups a vision of the third function of a university. In addition, specialists train graduate students, serve on advisory committees, and participate in other graduate education activities.

applied research and other creative work

Like their AES counterparts, specialists are expected to plan, conduct, and publish results of applied research/creative activity directed toward resolution of important issues or problems, independently or, more commonly, in collaboration with other research and extension personnel (including county agents). In addition, specialists provide leadership for planning and coordination of applied research activities related to areas of responsibility with departmental and other researchers, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and work-group participation.

Research and creative activity include synthesis and interpretation of extant knowledge, an integral aspect of the Smith—Lever mission. Extension fulfills its role by assisting in formulating policy and establishing regulatory standards and mechanisms, providing science-based information upon which policy decisions are made, and serving as the university's liaison with nongovernmental organizations and historically underserved groups.

professional activity Specialists participate in appropriate professional societies and educational organizations and serve on state, regional, national, and international committees; review panels; and editorial boards. Enhanced professional stature accrues to the reputations of specialists' home institutions in addition to reflecting positively on CSREES.

university and public service As good university citizens, specialists participate in activities of committees within the department, college, campus, and other university entities. Serving as liaisons, specialists respond to regulatory and state and federal agencies, external groups, industry organizations, and the media on issues related to areas of expertise, as well as representing the university to producer groups and other organizations.

The value of Cooperative Extension is its ability to design, develop, and deliver educational programs that meet the unique needs of people as they adjust to change. The Smith—Lever Act specifies that the main function of Cooperative Extension is synthesis of existing knowledge, ancillary to creation of new knowledge. The complementarity of AES and Cooperative Extension is demonstrated not only in that extension takes AES's discoveries to the people but also in extension's conveying the needs of the citizenry to AES researchers, ensuring that these issues are addressed.

See Also the Following Articles

Agricultural Entomology • Regulatory Entomology

Further Reading

Bartholomew, H. M., and Smith, K. L. (1990). Stresses of multicounty agent positions. J. Extension 28(4), 1—6.

Bushaw, D. W. (1996). The scholarship of extension. J. Extension 34(4), 5-8.

Cooper, A. W., and Graham, D. L. (2001). Competencies needed to be successful county agents and county supervisors. J. Extension 39(1), 1-11.

Gray, M. E., and Steffey, K. L. (1998). Status of extension entomology programs: A national assessment. Am. Entomol. 44, 9-13.

Jones, M. P. (1944). Extension entomology activities in wartime. J. Econ. Entomol. 37(3), 354-356.

Jones, M. P. (1950). Extension entomology. J. Econ. Entomol. 43(5), 736-739.

Lincoln, C., and Blair, B. D. (1977). Extension entomology: A critique. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 22, 139-155.

Palm, C. E. (1954). The growing responsibility of entomology to human welfare. J. Econ. Entomol. 47(1), 1-6.

Patton, M. Q. (1986). To educate a people. J. Extension 24, 21-22.

Steffey, K. L., and Gray, M. E. (1992). Extension-research synergism: Enhancing the continuum from discovery to delivery. Am. Entomol. 38, 204-205.

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