UW Cooperative Extension takes on a new lookWritten by Liz LeSatz
The recommendations are part of an academic plan for the College of Agriculture in conjunction with the university’s academic plan. Director Glen Whipple says 20 CES employees met in April to identify and address issues affecting the organization. The recommended actions were compiled in an academic plan draft and sent to CES employees for review.
The most encompassing proposal is a name modification. The document recommends condensing the current title, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, to University of Wyoming Extension.
“People identify us this way anyway and it would make the name shorter, a little more understandable and more identifiable,” Whipple says.
CES is also looking at restructuring some of its extension areas. Extension has faced problems with its two-county areas because of lack of human resources. In some cases, there are only three area educators when CES has four initiatives. These initiatives include sustainable management of rangeland resources, nutrition and food safety, community development education and profitable and sustainable agriculture systems. Another problem with the two-county extension areas is that extension educators are somewhat limited to where they can travel to share their expertise. This caused CES to consider more flexible extension areas.
“We wanted to see if we could reorganize ourselves to be more effective in allowing our people to move across county and area boundaries to help with problems they have the expertise to resolve,” Whipple says.
Area restructuring has already been taking place. Because of funding changes Fremont County ended up joining four other counties to form a five-county area. This stimulated interest in the southwest corner of the state where two areas joined together to create another five-county area. The domino effect seems to have taken place and there is now discussion of creating a five-county area on the east side of the state. The academic plan draft provides a recommendation for this area.
Whipple says it is their goal to eventually staff these five-county areas with eight area educators, two in each initiative, but they currently don’t have the resources to do that.
Part of extension’s objective in their academic plan is to respond to the university’s academic planning goals and also to respond to the challenges College of Agriculture Dean Frank Galey set forth. One of the challenges Galey gave to CES is to find ways to assist the state in renewable energy and energy conservation and efficiency.
Energy issues create many opportunities for CES to be involved. Whipple says challenges include wind and solar development and assisting communities that are rapidly changing due to energy development. Reclamation of non-renewable energy sites is also an area Whipple sees extension playing a role in.
“There aren’t many areas in the state that aren’t affected by reclamation so we’re trying to give them expertise and assistance to help them deal with the transition,” Whipple says. “We can help the state and businesses that are reclaiming these lands so it is done effectively.”
Once the employee input period is complete, the extension administration will review and rewrite the plan. The proposal will then be shared more broadly with the public, Whipple says. Review for the second version of the academic plan proposal should be ready in early June and the final document deadline is Sept. 15.