N.C. State's Extension Service announces future plans
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at N.C. State University announced a strategic plan for restructuring the century-old organization by targeting its strengths, improving access to services across the state and refocusing resources to support its refined core areas. The Extension Service will implement its strategic plan during a 22-month transition period through July 2016. Dr. Joe Zublena, director of the Extension Service at N.C. State, presented the plan to Extension employees across the state via a webinar on August 12. (Watch a strategic plan video.)
“We’re better aligning our resources and refocusing on three core areas: Agriculture, Food and 4-H Youth Development,” said Zublena. “These are the areas where we are most needed, best equipped to provide solutions, and can make the most impacts on North Carolina's communities and economy.”
The Extension Service has experienced federal and state funding reductions of $13 million since 2008 and a total of $22 million since 1991. During that time, the organization has permanently lost 157 county and campus-based positions through attrition. Yet Zublena points to proactive, positive opportunities as a primary factor in the restructuring.
“The Cooperative Extension System celebrated its centennial this year, which presented a unique opportunity not only to recognize our historical accomplishments, but also to evaluate our operations and envision long-term goals to improve how we serve our clients going forward,” said Zublena. (Learn more about Extension’s Centennial.)
“At the same time, North Carolina is experiencing an agriculture industry boom – it’s the state’s leading industry at $77 billion – and we’re ideally positioned to step up and help the state achieve its goal of growing agriculture to $100 billion.”
As part of the plan, the Extension Service will maintain its presence in each of the 101 local Extension centers across the state (including every county and the Eastern Band of Cherokee). Each local center will now be offered the same base staffing model, including agents in agriculture, 4-H and Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS), as well as a support specialist. One of the base programmatic positions will also serve as County Extension Director.
Additional agriculture agents will be strategically distributed throughout the state where most needed based on county statistics, including the number of farm operators, population and agriculture cash receipts. Extension will seek a 50-50 funding match with local governments on all base positions.
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