The South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences has announced the restructuring of the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service in response to a 10-percent reduction in state appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012. In addition to a decrease of $818,644 in state appropriations, the agency is anticipating a reduction of $325,000 in federal budgets for a one-year total of $1.2 million. These cuts come in addition to state budget reductions of $400,000 in the past two years.
College officials announced details of the reorganization at a meeting Tuesday with all Extension staff.
Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, said the decision to restructure reflects recommendations received from an administrative advisory committee of Extension staff. Dunn appointed the committee to propose options in response to reduced budgets. In addition to the committee recommendations, the college has worked with citizens and organizations across the state to determine how Extension should reposition itself to serve future needs.
Since receiving the advisory committee recommendation to restructure, Dunn appointed five implementation committees to develop recommendations to guide the transition. The advisory committee and implementation committees included 36 Extension employees.
“Given the budget reductions, face-to-face delivery as the primary teaching method for Extension is no longer financially practical or socially required for most audiences,” Dunn said. “This restructuring will maintain our support for critical audiences. It strengthens our commitment to agriculture and communities, and it renews our commitment to 4-H, youth and families.”
Regional Extension Centers
The restructuring plan calls for SDSU Extension to establish seven regional extension centers across the state staffed by extension field specialists, a new job classification. Extension educators will no longer be located in county extension offices, and the position of educator will cease to exist. Current appointments for all county extension educators will terminate on Oct. 21 following the conclusion of the 4-H year, Achievement Days and State Fair.
The new regional offices will be in Aberdeen, Faith, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown.
In addition, SDSU Extension will continue to maintain federally recognized tribal extension programs in Eagle Butte, Mission and Porcupine.
The regional centers were chosen to reflect population, as well as regional traffic for business, trade and health care, shopping and banking. The communities were also selected to provide a statewide network of offices that is no more than approximately 75 miles from a majority of extension’s audiences.
“These locations are within 75 miles of 95 percent of the farms, 96 percent of ag production, 92 percent of the communities, 97 percent of poverty level people and 98 percent of the youth in South Dakota,” Dunn said.
The regional extension centers will be operational by mid-October.
Extension Programs to Evolve
The restructuring also changes how extension will develop and deliver educational programs.
“Our extension programs will be market-driven and will be based on a business plan. Programs will include a strong communications technology, delivery component, making them much more accessible on the Internet, via social media and by videoconference,” Dunn said. “Clients will no longer be required to come to an extension office to participate in an educational program or service.”
Dunn said SDSU Extension programs also will include a cost-recovery component in full compliance with USDA regulations. “We will develop new, appropriate partnerships with underwriters. Some programs will have registration fees. And, some educational materials will be offered for sale,” Dunn said.
New Staffing Model
SDSU Extension will create the classification of extension field specialist that would require a minimum of a master’s degree. Field specialists will be administered by SDSU academic departments and located in regional extension centers to offer statewide programming.
Extension will also create the position of 4-H advisor to assure the uninterrupted delivery of 4-H programs. Starting in October, these positions will be responsible for 4-H program activities, Achievement Days and 4-H at State Fair. South Dakota counties will be invited to participate in monetary support that is appropriate for their budgets.
Under the new administrative structure, the position of director of extension will be held jointly by the dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, thereby reducing the number of administrative appointments. An associate director will be appointed from existing staff. Three administrative positions of district extension directors will be terminated.
The new structure calls for a director of field operations and five program directors. Extension will refocus efforts in five capstone areas. These include:
• Competitive crop systems;
• Competitive livestock systems;
• Youth and community leadership, including the 4-H program;
• Food and family; and
• Urban and Rural Initiatives.
College officials will discuss details of the restructuring at public meetings across South Dakota later this week:
Wednesday, April 13:
Chamberlain: AmericInn, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Pierre: Ramkota Inn, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Rapid City: Ramkota Inn, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. (Mountain)
Thursday, April 14:
Sioux Falls: Ramkota Inn, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Mitchell: Public Library, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Friday, April 15
Aberdeen: Ramkota, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Watertown: Codington County Extension Center, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
South Dakota State University administers the Cooperative Extension Service.
The College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences published material detailing the restructuring of the SDSU Extension. To access a pdf of the document, go to: