The Cooperative Extension System has been the outreach arm of land-grant universities throughout the nation since the establishment of the Smith Lever Act in 1914. Armed with research and knowledge, Cooperative Extension experts live and work in communities, providing valuable education and resources to help citizens improve their lives and their communities.
As the needs of those communities change so does the need for extension organizations to adapt to address the most pressing issues in those communities. In recent years, Cooperative Extension organizations have evolved to include a focus on tourism, enhanced youth development opportunities, community and economic development, and other important resources provided by colleges and universities. Meeting the ever-changing needs of these communities continues to be a challenging, yet necessary, evolution for 21st century land-grant institutions.
Recently, West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and WVU Extension Service Dean Steven Bonanno, sat down with The Ohio State University’s Associate Dean and Director of Extension Roger Rennekamp and Stephen M. Gavazzi, professor of human development and family science, to discuss the future of cooperative extension organizations and the role they play in carrying out the mission of today’s land-grant universities. The article was recently featured in The Evolllution, an online newspaper focused on higher education.
“In West Virginia, our Extension experts and staff are truly the front door to West Virginia University,” Gee said. “These men and women are on the ground, using their knowledge and skills to provide our communities with know-how, resources and research from our divisional campuses to help move West Virginia forward.
“Nowhere else in the university do we have employees living and working in all 55 counties,” he said. “The engagement opportunities provided by WVU Extension Service – including educational and economic development opportunities – are critical for communities around the nation, especially in our beloved West Virginia.”
The article also notes the need for Cooperative Extension organizations to be nimble, more technologically advanced and more cutting-edge.
“WVU provides a host of opportunities, knowledge and research that is so valuable to West Virginia communities,” Bonanno said. “We must continue to develop partnerships and collaborations with our academic colleagues that enable us to address the most pressing needs of West Virginians, while also helping to spur growth and prosperity. Our state is at a critical crossroads, and now, more than ever, our people need the outreach and engagement opportunities WVU and WVU Extension Service provide to West Virginia.”
CONTACT: Tara Curtis, WVU Extension Service