Even though Cooperative Extension has been one of the most successful outreach institutions in the USA for nearly 100 years and has been widely copied by other nations, it has a mission and money crisis now. This is documented in Chapter 1.
Updates since the book:
Fischer, Karen. "Economy Forces Land-Grant Universities to Reshape Extension Work" The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 13, 2009.
This article does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the "do more with less" dilemma. It provides examples from Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota.
The article describes two important features of the Minnesota regional system: county choice of additional local staff and the program business plans. Note, however, that the business plans were done by each program on a state-wide basis, pulling in faculty from all of the relevant campus departments and regional educators in a given area of expertise, rather than by regional centers.
While these two features, local choice and business plans, were two critical elements to the model Minnesota adopted in 2004, there are at least eight others which are closely connected to these. They are: authentic specialization by regional extension educators, new funding arrangements for regional educators versus county ones, state-wide program teams on most programs, supervision of all field educators by program specialists rather than by geographic supervisors, new approaches to needs assessment and market research, new regional support systems, new external relations approaches with increased use of public value statements and regional director networks, and new scholarship and promotion expectations for field staff.
As shown in "The Minnesota Response: Cooperative Extension's Money and Mission Crisis," each of the above elements has been crucial to the success of the Minnesota model.
Questions and Comments:
What is happening in your state? Is your state facing a mission and money crisis in Extension? Are there articles which document the increasing demands and fewer resources? If so, please share these in the comments section.