July 2009 Archives

Authors of The Minnesota Response

About the Authors


George Morse is a professor emeritus of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota. From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Morse served as associate dean and director, University of Minnesota Extension. He provided statewide leadership for Extension program staff and for some of the teams that restructured Minnesota Extension in 2004.

Jeanne Markell is the Ralph H. Tabor Fellow with the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C., during 2008 and 2009. Previously she was associate dean and director for external relations for University of Minnesota Extension and part of the team that developed the new Minnesota model.

Philip O'Brien is a financial analyst with the University of Iowa.  From 2000 to 2005, he was the chief financial office and assistant director for finance of  the University of Minnesota Extension.  He holds an M.A. in economics (Univ. of Illinois at Chicago) and and M.A. in pulibc policy analysis (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Adeel Ahmed is a regional extension educator in community economics, University of Minnesota Extension, and is located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He earned an M.S. from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Thomas K. Klein is associate director of the Minnesota Council on Economic Education. Earlier, he worked for University of Minnesota Extension for nine years as chief financial officer, director of the resource development unit, and director of marketing. He earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Larry Coyle is an Extension Professor and distance education specialist with University of Minnesota Extension. As CIO of Minnesota Extension from 2004-2006, he led the Minnesota's implementation of the regional center technology plan. He holds an M.S. degree in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University.


See Morse, G. The Minnesota Response, for a synthesis of these articles.


Articles Calling for Greater Specialization (listed in chronological order)


Hildreth, R.J. and W. J. Armbruster. 1981. "Extension Program Delivery - Past, Present and Future: An Overview." American Journal of Agricultural Economics 63(5).


Rasmussen, W. D. 1989. Taking the University to the People, Seventy-five Years of Cooperative Extension. Ames, IA; Iowa State University Press.


Thompson, O. E. and D. Gwynn. 1989. "Improving Extension: Views of Agricultural Deans." Journal of Extension 27(1). See www.joe.org


Smith. K. L. 1991. "Philosophy Diversions-Which Road?" Journal of Extension 29(4). See: www.joe.org


Seevers, B.; Graham, D.; Gamon, J.; and Conklin, N. 1997. Education through Cooperative Extension. New York: Delmar.


Agnew, D. M. 1991. "Extension Program Delivery Trends." Journal of Extension 29(2). See: www.joe.org


Journal Articles on Impacts of Regionalization:  Peer Reviewed


1) Multi-county or County Cluster Regionalization


Bartholomew, M. and K. L. Smith. 1990. "Stresses of Multicounty Agent Positions." Journal of Extension 28(4) See: www.joe.org/


Cropper, R. J. and R. F. Merkowitz. 1998. "Cluster a Great Way to Work." Journal of Extension 36 (1). See: www.joe.org


Hutchins, G. K. 1990. "Agent Specialization and the 4-H PRK Model." Journal of Extension 28(4). See www.joe.org


Hutchins, G. K. 1992. "Evaluating County Clustering." Journal of Extension 30(1). See www.joe.org


Schafer, S.R. 2006. "Clientele Perceptions of the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service Livestock Program." Journal of Extension 44 (2). See: www.joe.org


2. The Minnesota Regional/County Model of Regionalization


 Ahmed, A. and G. W. Morse. (forthcoming). "Opportunities and Threats Created by Extension Field Specialization."  Journal of Extension. See: www.joe.org.


Morse, G. 2006. "Minnesota Extension's Regional and County Delivery System: Myths and Reality." Journal of Extension 44(4). See: www.joe.org


Morse, G. and T. K. Klein. 2006. "Economic Concepts Guiding Minnesota Extension's New Regional and County Delivery Model."  Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement 11 (4). 


Schmitt, M. A. and T. Bartholomay. 2009.  "Organizational Restructuring and Its Effect on Agricultural Extension Educator Satisfaction and Effectiveness." Journal of Extension 47(2). See: www.joe.org




McDowell, G. R. 2001. Land-Grant Universities and Extension into the 21st Century: Renegotiating or Abandoning a Social Contract.  Ames, IA. Iowa State University Press.


Morse, G.W., J. Markell, P. O'Brien, A. Ahmed, T. Klein, and L. Coyle. (forthcoming).The Minnesota Response: Cooperative Extension's Money and Mission Crisis. Bloomington, iUniverse Publisher.  


Seevers, B.; Graham, D.; Gamon, J.; and Conklin, N. 1997. Education through Cooperative Extension. New York: Delmar.


Warner, P. D. and J. A. Christenson. 1984. The Cooperative Extension Service: A National Assessment. Westview Press.


Staff Papers:


Morse, G. and A. Ahmed.  2007. "Specialized Field Specialists" Believable Label or Oxymoron." AAEA 2007 Selected Poster Paper, American Agricultural Economics Association, See:  http://ageconsearch. umn.edu/


Morse, G., and P. O'Brien. 2006. "Minnesota Extension's Mixed Regional/County Model: Greater Impacts Follow Changes in Structure." Staff Paper PO6-7, Dept. of Applied Econ., University of Minnesota.


Definition of Specialization

"Our Extension Educators are much more specialized than they  were a few years ago."  This is a common comment from Extension state specialists and administrators around the nation.  But what does it really mean? 

"Specialization of field educators" has different characteristics and features in different states.  Some have even suggested that the term "specialized field extension educators" is an oxymoron. 

In Minnesota, the "specialized" extension educators before 2004 were very different than those after 2004.  Before 2004, the field educators had self-declared a "specialization."  Sometimes this specialization is unrelated to the area of work for which they were originally hired or trained.  In some areas, community development, for instance, the "specialized educators" could only work one or two days a week on their speciality because they were hired to be 4-H youth educators or agricultural agents. 

In a forthcoming book, titled The Minnesota Response: Cooperative Extension's Money and Mission Crisis, Adeel Ahmed and I define a specialized field Extension Educator as follows:

A specialized Extension Educator concentrates on an area of expertise, provides leadership on a statewide program team that develops and delivers outreach educational programs for a community of interest, and contributes to the scholarship related to outreach education. (p. 98) 


While many observes might see the new Minnesota model as primarily a move to regionalization, this is only the tip of the ice berg.  

"Specialized Regional Extension Educators in Minnesota have the following defining features:

1)      are located in regional centers rather than county offices;

2)      cover larger geographic areas than non-specialized educators;

3)      are not funded by counties but rather by state funds, federal funds, or by other organizations;

4)      focus on a specific area of expertise;

5)      have high scholarship and promotion expectations; and

6)      are supervised by state specialists in their area of expertise."

      (Morse, George and Adeel Ahmed. "Specialized Extension Educators," in Morse, G. (forthcoming). The Minnesota Response: Cooperative Extension's Money and Mission Crisis. Bloomington,  iUniverse.  p. 101)


The book presents evidence on the degree to which the Minnesota Regional Extension Educators fit this definition of specialization and how their degree of specialization changed from the previous county cluster delivery model to the new regional/county model.  See "Research and Articles" under this category (Specialization) for references.   


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