From the Deans Desk
Extension Advancement Initiatives Goal
to Make Kentucky Better Place to Live, Work, and Raise Families
During my first several months as Dean, what has impressed me most is the passion that people throughout Kentucky have for their College of Agriculture. Having attended more than 100 meetings in 60 counties thus far, Ive met people at every stop who are eager to tell me about the positive impact the Colleges programs have made in their lives. Keep telling me these stories; I am always pleased to hear them.
The Colleges presence in every county makes it unique in the world of higher education. Our Extension agents and their assistants are the gateways to the University and its storehouse of knowledge. As a direct result of their good work, local support for Cooperative Extension Service programs remains exceptionally strong, with solid county-level funding, wonderful new facilities in dozens of counties, and great volunteer leadership.
To maintain the strength of our county Extension programs, we will need to address several major challenges over the next few years. Extension agents are being asked to take on new and sometimes much more complex responsibilities. For example, the Agricultural Development Board has imposed on county offices the enormous new responsibility for administering, facilitating, and planning programs resulting from the tobacco settlement fund. In addition, Extension offices will be expected to expand their role in several diverse arenas, including health care and community economic development. As a consequence, our responsibility at the state level is to make sure these local efforts are adequately supported.
At the same time these new responsibilities were being added, our agent salaries slipped to 47th in the nation and last among our benchmark institutions. The average agent salary in Kentucky is several thousand dollars below the national average. Unless we can reverse this trend, we will soon lose our claim as one of the nations best Extension systems.
To address these issues, I have drafted what I call the Extension Advancement Initiative, which includes three goals: improve agent compensation and recruitment; enhance state support for local programs; and address new and broader expectations for Extension. Contact our offices if you would like to receive a brief summary of this initiative.
Your active support of this initiative is important if the Cooperative Extension Service is to continue to make positive impacts on your life and the lives of your fellow Kentuckians. I am optimistic that we will have broad support for this initiative, especially after hearing from so many of you about how the College of Agriculture has enriched your lives. With your help, we can make Kentucky a better place to live, work and raise our families.
M. Scott Smith, Dean and Director