October 2010 Archives


Dates: April 19, May 3, May 17, June 7

Time: 11 am to 1 pm, Eastern

Registration Deadline: April 11, 2011

Registration Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D7R3KVQ



Is This Short-Course for You?


      Cooperative  Extension is being asked to do more with less.  Yet, given the long hours which Extension staff already work, it is impossible to ask them to do this by working longer hours or working harder.  New methods of developing and delivering programs which includes greater economies of scale and greater effectiveness are needed.  Some states have sought greater efficiency and effectiveness by increasing the specialization of their field staff.  They have done this by moving to regional systems rather than the traditional county or county cluster models.


   The overall goals of this short-course are to enable   

        participants to explore:

        1) the benefits and costs of Educator specialization,

         2) the regional policies needed to support specialization,

         3) the empirical evidence on specialization's impacts, and  

         4) force field analysis on controversial proposals.

Primary Participants:  Cooperative Extension Administration, including Extension Deans & Directors, Associate Deans, Assistant Deans, Program Leaders,  Regional Directors, and others as appointed by the Dean and Director.

Two-thirds of the past participants were from Extension administration (Associate Dean and Director (2), Assistant Directors (2), Program Leaders (3), Regional Director (2), County Director (1)). One state also included on its team Regional Educators (3) and a state Specialist.


Outline of the four webinar sessions:

April 19: "The Benefits and Costs of  Extension Educator Specialization"  What are alternative ways to defined specialization of educators?  Why do economist's claim it is a way to do more with less? What is the evidence that this works? 

May 3: "Regional Policies to Support Extension Educator Specialization"  What regional policies are other states using to encourage specialization?  How do these regionalization and specialization policies impact access to programs and specialists, program quality, collaboration between educators and state specialists, applied research, public value and funding?

May 17: "Force Field Analysis to Explore Proposals for Your State"  If regionalization and/or specialization is proposed for your state, how can you reach a consensus on potentially controversial proposals?  In this session, done individually by each state team, the team uses force field analysis to explore the pros and cons for their state of a funding policy that supports regionalization and specialization.   State teams can also explore other locally generated policy proposals. 

June 7:  "State Reports on Force Field Analysis"  While all state teams start with the same policy proposal, the use of force field analysis in session three results in very different and unique proposals that  better fit their state's context.   In this session each team makes a 15 minute Power Point presentation, followed by discussion. 

In November (to be scheduled): "Optional Follow-Up Session"  This optional session gives the teams a chance to compare notes about six months after the short-course. 

Location of the Course:   This "Basic Course" is delivered online and you can participate from your office.   You can use either your phone or VoIP for audio.  Alternatively, a state team can participate from one location by projecting the online presentations and using a speaker phone.  There are two other options, a "Customized Online Course," which is available to states individually and customized to their needs, and a "Customized Onsite Course," which is similar but done in a face-to-face mode on the sponsor's campus.  For the two customized options, email George Morse at morse001@umn.edu.

Homework:  To facilitate the discussion sessions, participants will be asked to do some advanced reading.  However, my five years as Associate Dean and Director for University of Minnesota Extension taught me how hard it is to find time for this.  Hence, only two hours of reading assignments are included (not per week but over the seven weeks).  While most state teams spend another one or two hours preparing for their final report, they also reported this was one of the most valuable parts of the course. 

Book:  The readings come from several Journal of Extension articles and from The Minnesota Response: Cooperative Extension's Money and Mission Crisis, iUniverse, 2009.  To see a free preview of the book go to www.books.google.com.   The price varies widely, ranging from $36.95 for hardcover or $26.95 for paperback at Amazon to $4.80 for an eBook from Barnes and Noble.   If you do not have a Kindle or Nook, you can download free applications to your PC or MAC for these and then order the eBooks. However, there is a trade-off since the formatting of some tables in the eBook is out of alignment.  While the eBook tables are still readable,  the authors find them ugly.

Instructor:  George Morse, Professor Emeritus, Applied Economics, University of Minnesota. Dr. Morse served as the Associate Dean and Director for the University of Minnesota Extension from 2002 to 2007 and was part of the leadership team that developed and implemented the regional and county system used in Minnesota since 2004.  His faculty website is at: http://www.apec.umn.edu/people/EmeritiFacultyDirectory/GeorgeMorse/index.htm


Registration:   Registration is done by a state team rather than individuals.  The team can have three to five people.    The fee of $460 includes all five  webinar sessions but not the book.  The registration is done at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D7R3KVQ 

Registration Deadline:  Registration closes on April 11, 2011.  However, space is limited to three state teams so sign up early.

Questions?  Write or call George Morse at morse001@umn.edu or 207-799-1872.




Instructor for Short-Course: George Morse

I am a professor emeritus of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota.  From 2002 to 2007, I was the Associate Dean and Director for the University of Minnesota Extension and part of the leadership team which designed and implemented Minnesota Extension's 2004 move to a regional/county system.  Earlier in my career I was a professor of applied economics and Extension economist at South Dakota State University, Ohio State, and University of Minnesota. I also had a teaching and research appointment in community economic development, focusing on economic impact analysis and business retention and expansion strategies.   I enjoy teaching in an active learning mode and look forward to active discussion in this course. 

Before starting in Extension, I earned degrees at the University of Maine, Purdue, and University of Wisconsin.  Now my wife and I live in Cape Elizabeth on the coast of Maine and really enjoy Maine's four seasons, with opportunities to canoe, garden, bike, ski, and walk the beach all year round.  My CV is available at http://www.apec.umn.edu/people/EmeritiFacultyDirectory/GeorgeMorse/index.htm


If you have questions about this course, email me at morse001@umn.edu or give me a call at 207-799-1872.

FAQs on Short-Course Options


1. What are the options for the short-course?

You can participate in three different ways in the short-course: "Exploring Specialization and Regionalization in Extension."  These are:


 #1: Basic Online Option:  Up to five state teams can participate.

#2: Customized Online Option: Includes only individuals from one state,

#3: Customized Onsite Option: Includes only individuals from one state.


2. Do all three options have the same goals?

Yes.  Although the curriculum is idential for all three options, the mode of delivery of the course differs.  

While participants in all three options will learn about the features of four states which have adopted regional models, those selecting the basic option will also hear from their colleagues in other states as they evaluate the pros and cons of alternative models. 


3.  Why would any state prefer the Customized Options?

Some states will prefer the customized option for three reasons: 

1) the agenda can be customized to fit the needs of an individual state;

2) larger numbers of individuals from a state can participate at one time;  and

3) it is possible to guarantee confidentially for these discussions while it is not possible to guarantee confidentially in sessions that have people from other states. 


4. How does this course "Exploring Specialization and Regional Delivery in Extension" compare with the previous course called " Creating Your Own Regional Extension System?"

This course is essential the same course with two major modifications.  First, a fouth session was added, reflecting the need for more discussion about specialization prior to doing the force field analysis.  Second, the fee was increased from $150 per team, with additional fees of $50 per person up to five to $460 for a team of up to five, or $11.50 per participant per contact hour.  While originally I was not planning to offer this course this spring due to a number of other projects, I was convinced to offer it at this fee.


5. How have prior participants rated the course?

Ninety-four percent of those evaluating the course said they would recommend it to their peers (with 83% saying "yes, definitely" and 11% saying "yes" when asked if they would).  However, they did not know about the price increase when doing the survey - and neither did I.

Here is the evaluation survey from the first and second offering of the pilot course.


Feedback Survey:  First and Second Offering

 "Creating Your Own Regional Extension System"


George Morse

Professor Emeritus, Applied Economics

University of Minnesota




Course Description:


The goal of the course is to share information on options being used to encourage regionalization and specialization of Extension educators. Participants are then given an opportunity to use force field analysis to develop a unique plan for their state.  The course is outlined in greater detail on my blog: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/morse001/gwmspecial/


Course Participants and Confidentiality:


This feedback covers two offerings of the short course in the winter of 2010-2011. Teams of three to five participated from four states, with 15 participants. Two-thirds of the participants were from Extension administration (Associate Dean and Director (2), Assistant Directors (2), Program Leaders (3), Regional Director (2), County Director (1)). One state also included on its team Regional Educators (3) and a state Specialist.


My course policy prohibits sharing the names of the participants and states that have participated in this course.  However, the four states which have completed it spanned the nation from coast to coast


The three two-hour webinar sessions were completed over a six-week period to allow the state teams to discuss issues between the meetings. Roughly, 40% of the first session was group discussion, 80% in the second session, and 95% in the third session. Attendance was 93 percent.  


Feedback Results:


Ten of the 15 participants completed the formal feedback survey, one completed an hour-long telephone interview, and another sent a note of appreciation before the feedback survey was sent out. In summary, feedback was provided by 80 percent of the participants with 67 percent completing the questions listed below.


1)      If you were asked by a peer in another state, would you recommend this short-course?


Table 1:  Would You Recommend Short-Course to Peers?

Feature Mentioned

 Percent of Respondents

Yes, definitely


Yes, probably


No, each state need to find its own way


No, not worth the time


·         N = 9 of 15 in course because the original survey omitted this question and the first response came in before it was added.  One participant split the vote between "yes, definitely" and "No, not worth the time" so half of this vote was allocated to each one. See second comment below.


·         Yes, definitely... I would describe the context in which I participated and the outcomes.

·         As a learning process, yes definitely. As a change process, no because it did not give the time or stakeholder engagement necessary for real change. 


2)      To date, I have invited only a limited number of people to the course. In the future, who should be invited to join (along with one or two others)?   


Table 2:  Who Should Be Invited to Short-Course?

Feature Mentioned

 Percent of Respondents

a.       Extension Directors


b.      Program Leaders & Regional Directors


c.       Educators


d.      County Commissioners or Councils


e.       Other Stakeholders


·         One respondent marked this one and then indicated "maybe" so counted as ½ a vote.


·         My first inclination is to not include county commissioners but then - - - on the other hand - why not? They could be essential in the proactive approach we must take in order to stay on their radar as essential resources. Who to invite might also depend on what point in the process a state is currently.

·          Definitely all of the above. But in particular, our educators need to hear about successful transitions and that what we are in fact moving towards has been tried and proven. We constantly get the attitude that we're setting up something ridiculous that could never ever work, so hearing about Minnesota by ALL of them would be great.

·         I see the above B and C as the greatest beneficiaries of the course. As other aspects link into administration, relationships etc, A and D would also be good to engage with.  

·         I think there are valuable benefits to working through this course. Involving all stakeholders could be quite powerful!

·          All of the above should be represented, possibly through segmented course offerings designed to reach each audience. 

·         Program Leaders, Regional Directors (Area Administrators), and possibly county directors seem to be the best audience for this course

·          I think a, b, and c should definitely be included as for d & e, I think it might be worth a try to include them on a test session to see if they help or just muddy the waters.

·         Who is invited depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I thought this was a course on processes that could be used to reinvent the way we do our work. Instead, it was the actual act of reinventing our work. For the latter purpose, all extension stakeholders should be involved. 


3)      What did you like best about the short-course?


Table 1: Liked Best about Short-Course

Feature Mentioned

 Percent of Respondents

Individual state project


Having another state participate


Reflection on options with other members of our state team


Learning about other states



·         It was enormously useful to learn what the situation is in other states and to reflect with the other 2 folks from my state on what might be viable here. We definitely used all this as a jumping off point to what we came up with conceptually. Once you do some thinking on the options (still hoping they won't come to pass) it is less threatening to head off into uncharted territory.

·         The chance to talk through (and be challenged) about staffing options. This enabled coming up with the best possible plans . The opportunity to work with you on developing our plan 

·         Liked the fact that there were just two or three other states participating, making the conversations fairly easy. Also thought the assignment of a project for each state was a good activity. It helped us to apply what we learned.

·         Hearing how other states were reorganizing. Especially learning from states ahead of us, like Minnesota, that has successfully marched down the road we are just starting.

·         The opportunity to have an open discussion with colleagues in other states about effective change in Extension systems. It opened my eyes about what works and what does not, which changes from one state to the next.

·         I enjoyed the interaction with you as a guru to transforming systems and infrastructures of ES. I also enjoyed the offline conversation, the FFA exercise and learning from other universities and groups.  

·         It was a chance to work with friends and colleagues from my institution and other land grant universities. It gave our team the opportunity to creatively think about our future. 

·         The one-on-one interaction, customizing individual State plans, follow-up, and assistance during State planning were the highlights.

·         The program delivered via audio/video-conference was very convenient. The three-part approach enabled me to get necessary instruction, apply the knowledge with colleagues in my state, and validate what was learned in a follow up session.

·         Thought it was pretty good. I read (most of) the book and thought it helped in going through the web based process. The book helped to provide additional details on what Minnesota and other states are doing. The program helped us put together a proposal for a pilot program in our state


4)      How could I improve it? What was missing that you expected? What did I overdo?


All of the suggestions, except one, were unique so the full response is shown. While unique, there are some excellent suggestions, which are being incorporated into the course.   The one item mentioned by five (55%) of the respondents were the technology glitches. The "GoToMeeting.com" system was used for the webinars. In six of the seven sessions, the system worked well, with only a couple of  minor audio problems by a couple of people. In the final session of the first offering, the audio was completely lost for many of the participants, including myself, during the last 20 minutes.    


·         Did not overdo anything from my vantage point. Giving us guidance about which particular sections of the book to read or re-read was good. The relevance was important. The workbook format one person talked about would be a great addition so that is one thing you might decide to tackle.

·         Many of us just didn't have time to read the book - so a little more description about the content, as it pertained to the course would have been helpful.

·         I especially enjoyed our one-on-one time with you. It helped us speak directly about the other state, and get your insight and answers to questions that continually come up among our faculty. Otherwise, I valued the course as presented. I think the structure of bringing us all together, then individually and back together again worked very well.

·         I thought the process itself was valuable and provided a best case for effective change. The technologies had glitches, though, which distracted form the process and from the final product.

·         It is hard to do at times because we all assume technology is fail proof, but if technology could be improved or if we could cross our fingers that we can stay connected, that would be an improvement. If depth of content can be increased in such a short course or additional commitment of homework assignments on the part of participants, that too would also be good.

Extension Restructuring References:


Extension Restructuring References [1]

February 18, 2011


The following websites provide details on the restructuring efforts of Cooperative Extension as several universities, starting in 2004.  The states are listed in the order of starting to implement their restructuring plans.  The implementation dates generally refer to major changes.  However, in most cases changes started before the implementation dates and continued for several years after the implementation date.

This brief summary and list of references becomes dated quickly, especially with the difficult fiscal outline for all units of government. 

Budget Updates

 "An Update on State Budget Cuts: At Least 46 States Have Imposed Cuts That Hurt Vulnerable Residents and the Economy"  Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Feb. 9. 2011.


Forty-three states are cutting colleges and universities.  While this article does not explicitly describe proposed cuts to Extension, it is clear that CES will be under fiscal pressure.

Minnesota - Announced in May 2003 and implemented January 1, 2004

"Organizational Restructuring and Its Effect on Agricultural Extension Educator Satisfaction and Effectiveness" by Michael A. Schmitt and Tom Bartholomay. Journal of Extension. 2009. 47(2). Go to www.joe.org


"The Minnesota Response: Cooperative Extension's Money and Mission Crisis," iUniverse, 2009.  www.books.google.com (free preview), Amazon. com or BarnesandNoble.com (purchase) 

This book provides a description of the differences between the regional system used in Minnesota from 1986 to 2003, called the county-cluster model) and the regional system used since January 1, 2004, called the regional and county model.  The later encourages much greater specialization of extension educators.

In the new system, Minnesota funds the regional educators from state and federal funds while most county positions are funded entirely by the county.   The nutrition education assistants located in county offices are funded with a federal grant (SNAP).  The regional educators work in multi-counties or the entire state, depending on the program area.  The regional educators are organized in 16 areas of expertise.  The book provides preliminary results on the differences in program quality, access to extension, collaboration between campus faculty and extension educators, and funding changes. 

"Opportunities and Threats Created by Extension Field Staff Specialization." by Adeel Ahmed and George Morse,  Journal of Extension. 2010, 48(1). Go to www.joe.org

"Regional Delivery Systems in Cooperative Extension"  by George Morse.  There are two free webinars available at  http://ncrcrd.org/Webinars/ChronologicalArchive.aspx.   One is 80 minutes long and was recorded live on January 14, 2011 with 45 minutes of Q&A.  The other is a shorter version (20 minutes)  of the same material without Q&A.  Both are sponsored by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.

Minnesota Extension's website: www.extension.umn.edu



Alabama - Announced in March 2004 and implemented in October 1, 2005

Alabama funds its regional educators primarily from state and federal funds and shares funding with counties for one local position. This funding arrangement was announced in August 2004 and implemented in October 2005.  All other county positions are funded completely by the counties.  All of the regional educators are located in county offices but serve a multi-county region.  The size of the region served varies by program area with the regional educators specializing in one of 13 areas of expertise. 

Alabama Cooperative Extension System:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_Cooperative_Extension_System

This extensive wiki article provides an excellent overview of the 2004 restructuring from primarily a county delivery system to a combination regional and county system.

Alabama CES Website: http://www.aces.edu/


Iowa - Announced April 30, 2009 and implemented during next FY2010


Iowa State University Extension shifted to a regional and county model in 2009-2010.  The funding model is similar to Minnesota's but many of the regional educators office in the county offices.  This difference might be due to the fact that ISU's regional educators had been more specialized prior to the shift than Minnesota's.  The Iowa regional educators are called "program specialist," the same title as state specialists. 


2009 Restructuring,   ISU University Extension,



ISU Extension website:  http://www.extension.iastate.edu/


Ohio -  Announced April 2009 with implementation starting June 1, 2009

The Ohio regional model is a county cluster model.  The educators specialize by program area and work within a set of counties. 

"OSU Extension Restructuring Model: A Plan for Continued Excellence," March 2009. http://extadmin-cms.ag.ohio-state.edu/restructuring-implementation

 OSU Extension website:  http://extension.osu.edu/




Michigan - Announced July 1, 2010 with implementation over FY2011


The reorganization in Michigan took a different direction than in Minnesota, Alabama, and Iowa.  Rather than shifts in the funding arrangements, the state identified four major program areas and organized the 82 counties in 13 multi-county units.  The links below provide details on this system.

"MSU Extension begins statewide restructuring" by Eileen Gianiodis, Michigan State University News, July 1, 2010, http://news.msu.edu/story/8041/#

MSU Extension website: http://www.msue.msu.edu/portal/


Georgia  - Announced in September 2010, with 12 to 18 months for implementation

Georgia is moving to a six tiered delivery model.  Each tier includes provides a different set of services and personnel.  The relationship to specialization of field staff is not yet known.   

"Changes for Extension Service After Budget Cuts" (Video of Beverly Sparks) Sept. 16, 2010 http://videos.wittysparks.com/id/4093672405

 "UGA Extension rolls out new model for program delivery" by Beverly Sparks, Oct. 14, 2010.  http://georgiafaces.caes.uga.edu/?public=viewStory&pk_id=3948


"Extension Offices Seeing Changes," GPB News, Oct. 28, 2010



 "UGA Extension implements new delivery system" by J Faith Peppers. Nov. 14, 2010






Virginia - Announced October 7, 2010 and plan placed on hold in January 2011


Viriginia announced a combined regional and county system with funding features similar to Minnesota and Iowa.  This was done to handle $10 million in cuts over the past several years.  However, in late January 2011, the University withdrew the plan due to political opposition. 


Announcement by Virginia Cooperative Extension: October 7, 2010 http://www.ext.vt.edu/restructuring/index.html

"Va. Tech to revamp extension program" by Tonia Moxley, The Roanke Times, Oct 9, 2010   http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/263291

 Virginia Extension website: http://www.ext.vt.edu/



[1] George Morse, Professor Emeritus, Applied Economics, University of Minnesota. November 2010, (morse001@umn.edu)




Philosophy & Ground Rules: Short-Course


1.      Every state can learn from the experience, successes, and mistakes of experiments in regionalization and specialization in other states.


2.      However, the instructor will not advocate the adoption of the regional systems used in any state since the context (history, resources, politics, etc.) in other states vary so widely that each state needs its own unique system.


3.      In order to use the "Force Field Analysis" to build a consensus on a new model for your state, participants should not declare their intention to adopt or promote a particular type of regional system.  Rather, each participant should focus on the pros and cons of each type at least through the completion of session three.  It is best if no one, including fellow teammates knows whether you favor or disfavor a particular delivery system until after the completion of the third session.  (Best of all, you should wait to decide until after the FFA is complete.) The force field analysis sessions will facilitate a thorough discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each aspect of a system and ways to create your own unique system for your state.


4.      Learning is not a spectator sport.  While there will be no quizzes or tests in this short course, the participants will get much more out of the course if they read the suggested readings.  Care has been put into the selection of the readings to keep the time required reasonable. 


5.      Discussion will make up a portion of all three sessions.  The first session has several powerpoint presentations followed by group discussion.  The second session is a work session done by each of the individual teams.  The third session has a series of reports by the teams with questions and suggestions added by the instructor. 



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