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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


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

"Regional Delivery Systems in Cooperative Extension"  by George Morse.  There are two free webinars available at   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:



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:

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:


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:


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.

 OSU Extension website:




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,

MSU Extension website:


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

 "UGA Extension rolls out new model for program delivery" by Beverly Sparks, Oct. 14, 2010.


"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

"Va. Tech to revamp extension program" by Tonia Moxley, The Roanke Times, Oct 9, 2010

 Virginia Extension website:



[1] George Morse, Professor Emeritus, Applied Economics, University of Minnesota. November 2010, (




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