By Kay Shipman, Farm Week

With tighter finances, Extension forced to get more creative in distributing information.

University of Illinois Extension is looking to the future with an Extension 3.0 Task Force, comprised of Extension staff, researchers and stakeholders.

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Dean Kim Kidwell described the effort as “an action plan for Extension in the 21st century,” during her U of I Agronomy Day remarks. Kidwell noted she was continuing her goal to personally visit all the Extension centers from around the state.

“Not a lot of people know what we (Extension) do matters,” Kidwell said.

Extension changed along with farmers and agriculture, and no longer offers an Extension adviser to each farm, she explained. “We can’t afford to do it that way. We have to be creative on how we get information to you,” Kidwell said.

The task force, which met recently, includes four ACES scientists, four off-campus Extension educators and four members of the public.

George Czapar, associate dean and U of I Extension director, assessed the task force’s mission as “a look to see what we can do better.” Czapar does not serve on the task force.  

Czapar emphasized the current effort is meant to enhance what Extension does.

The group will examine past successful strategies and new ones that could be implemented. A special focus will be analyzing how new discoveries are shared with the public to inform, improve and enhance people’s lives.

“Be patient with us,” Kidwell told her Agronomy Day audience. “Stand with us as we move through this.”