I had the opportunity to provide a seminar to the UNL Agronomy and Horticulture Department last week which was truly an honor. As I thought about what to present, I kept thinking about the future of Extension and two major challenges I see Extension facing in the next 100 years…actually now.
Challenge of losing our research base.
Challenge of sharing our unbiased, research-based information in the places where customers are receiving information.
I continue to think about Extension’s Mission: We provide unbiased, research-based information to the people to ultimately improve their lives.
My thoughts kept centering around the fact that in order for me to achieve Extension’s Mission, I need to be more connected with the people on campus and research stations. I need to know about their research to share with our customers. For us to be the best Land Grant University System we can be in the future, Teaching and Research need to be connected to Extension to ensure real-life problems and solutions are shared in the classroom and in research programs.
Why does it matter?
There are a number of reasons but to me it comes down to relevance, success, and even if land grant institutions exist in 100 years. The original vision for the Land Grant Institution was an incredible concept! Success has been achieved as we still exist 152 years after the Morrill Act creating the land grant institution was signed and 100 years after Cooperative Extension was added to the land grant system via the Smith-Lever Act.
What it boils down to is how much our world in changing regarding how people receive information and the sources from which they receive it. The following infographics tell a huge story: what happens online every 60 seconds. Look at the changes even between 2013 and 2014 in the number of new information sources and how different sources changed between the two years. Think about what this means for how Teaching, Research, and Extension continue to serve the people of Nebraska and the world.
So the ultimate question for us all: How do we better connect to ensure our relevancy, our success, and our future existence?
A few example ideas to get a discussion started include:
- Joining the Next Generation Extension Blog
- Connecting with Extension Educators out in the field to provide in-class case studies via blog posts, social media, etc.
- Collaborating in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network
- Submitting story ideas to Educators for publishing in our comprehensive Extension sites such as CropWatch, Food, Beef, Water, Horticulture.
- Adding UNL Extension to listservs advertising upcoming Department and Campus seminars and providing a distance connection so we can view them.