How to Address the Mission of Extension

Bradley A. Leger, PhD

“. . . yes – the times, they are a changin’.”

I suppose that I’ve always been one about getting to the fundamentals of an issue. In other words, “What’s the bottom line?” Let’s take a look at the mission of Extension:

“Extension education is an intentional effort to fulfill predetermined and important needs of people and communities.”

As Larry the Cable Guy might ask, how do we “get ‘er done?” So . . . I pose two questions along with our friend Larry: How do we become informed of the needs of the people and communities that we serve? How do we inform the public of our role in making our society a better place in which to live?

Long ago, our organization wisely determined that we must tap into the “people” resources present in our communities in order to establish this two-way street of communication and support. This is accomplished in the form of the Advisory Leadership System, better known as Advisory Councils. If properly orchestrated, this body can indeed provide valuable input into the planning of our programming as well as assisting us in educating the public about what we do. In this present climate of profound economic and organizational change, I feel that well-functioning council is needed more than ever to assist us in staying important and relevant to our society.

To dig in a bit deeper into the fundamentals: as Extension professionals, we are all aware that, along with the ever-changing landscape of our agricultural landscape and society in general, our own organization has had to respond accordingly – or have we? Many voices throughout history have addressed the sometimes daunting issue of change:

“Weep not that the world changes — did it keep a stable, changeless state, it were cause indeed to weep.” – William Cullen Bryant

Or, to put it a little less eloquently,

“Change or die.” – Claudian, 4th Century Roman Poet

Therefore, we’ll devote the next few days to the discussion of Advisory Councils and their extreme importance to our programming. We’ll chat about topics ranging from assembling to assessment. Comments are encouraged and welcome! Let’s get the conversation going!

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