Last week I briefly highlighted areas Nebraska Extension is involved. This week’s article will touch on some of the key issues Extension focuses, based on stakeholder input. “Nebraska faces critical issues we must address to make our world a better place. Many of these issues are complex, multidisciplinary, and challenging, yet they present us with great opportunities to help shape a future that is promising for our state and nation (NE Extension, 2016).” With this in mind, in order for Extension to help clients be successful, Extension faculty and staff are highly focused on specific issues in interdisciplinary teams, called Issue Teams.
This list will continue to evolve over time as issues change, but currently consist of: Insect ecosystems (including pollinators), healthy lifestyles for children and youth, resistant & invasive pests, Nebraska leaders, college & career success, engaging underserved youth, climate variation, consumer confidence in food, children learning experiences, emerging technology for agriculture, efficient water use, ag producer economic viability, livable communities, STEM careers, water & soil protection, youth entrepreneurship food access and diversified ag production.
With my background in agricultural education, I will be moving towards more youth development programming related to crops and agricultural education. I am able to reciprocate youth crop/ag programming with my colleagues, as they provide programming in their expertise area in Fillmore County. This week I’d like to introduce you to my Extension colleagues serving Fillmore County and their respective regions.
Food, Nutrition & Health – Kayla Colgrove, Gage County
Beef (& Livestock) Systems – Duane Lienemann, Webster County
The Learning Child – Leanne Manning, Saline County
Community Environment (Horticulture) – Nicole Stoner, Gage County
Crops & Water – Me as I transition into more youth development; it will be the new educator in Clay County when hired.
4-H Youth Development – Me! I will also serve Clay County as I move towards more youth programming.
You might wonder how this will impact the service you receive, when in fact Extension always has had a network of faculty in these disciplines. The biggest advantage with this structure change is that faculty is more focused in their respective disciplines, thus providing clients better service and programs. It also helps clientele establish improved relationships with Extension faculty as we serve our accountability regions. Even if you do not physically go into an Extension office or use our web tools, apps or publications, it is likely the information a farmer received from a crop consultant or salesman came from UNL research or Extension programming. Food handlers at restaurants were probably trained by Nebraska Extension’s Serve Safe program and parents going through a divorce take a course taught by, you guessed it – Nebraska Extension faculty! We are sometimes referred to as the ‘best kept secret’ which is why I’m taking some time this week to share just a couple examples of programs you might not be familiar.
As it says on our Extension website, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension is a nationally respected educational leader. We work in a rapidly changing world, yet one familiar phrase seems most appropriate for Extension’s future: “The future is what we choose to make.” We have a responsibility to our clientele and colleagues to maintain high quality educational programs and a relevant and responsive organization.