In the last few months there have been a few articles in different Ag Publications regarding the Cooperative Extension Service. These pieces have discused budget cuts, usage of the Extension Service and talked about the outlook of the program.
On Wednesday we learned about the reorganization changes coming to the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service. Thursday Barry H. Dunn, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences at South Dakota State University and Director of the Cooperative Extension Service released a “Stewards of Progress”report describing the upcoming changes in detail. There is also a message on YouTube that can be viewed here.
Here is a brief overview of why changes are being made and what some of the changes will be:
1. Budget Cuts are $1.2 million. $325,000 in federal funding and $818, 644 in State support.
2. 99 employees will be laid off on October 21, 2011, after the conclusion of summer and fall 4-H activities. The current County Educators will have to apply for the new Regional Office Specialist jobs.
3. There will be seven (7) regional centers and three (3) tribal programs located across the State v. County Offices. Regional offices will be located in Aberdeen, Faith, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown. Federally funded Tribal Extension Programs will be at Eagle Butte, Mission and Porcupine.
4. These Regional Offices will have sixty five (65) Extension Field Specialists. Many of which could be filled by current Extension Educators. Specialist will be expected to have Master’s Degrees or obtain a Master’s with in five (5) years.
5. The population of youth in a County will determine Extension’s support of a full time or part-time 4-H Advisor. In some areas a 4-H Advisor will be up to the County to employ or there will be multi-county partnerships formed. The Extension Service has outlined several County options to maintain 4-H programs.
6. There will be two (2) SDSU Research Stations closing and two (2) on campus labs.
Dr. Dunn states that “SDSU Extension infrastructure must be redirected to effectively utilize current and future technologies. Despite the challenges, a stronger, more effective system, positioned to serve the current and future needs of citizens, will emerge.”