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Karla Trautman Named SDSU Extension Director

Karla Trautman, SDSU Extension Director
Karla Trautman, SDSU Extension Director

Karla Trautman has been named the director of SDSU Extension at South Dakota State University. She has served as the interim director of SDSU Extension since 2016.

“I am very excited about Karla accepting the permanent role as director of SDSU Extension following her very successful service as the interim director. I look forward to her continued leadership and advancement of our extension activities in the state,” said John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of SDSU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Over the course of her extension career, Trautman has served in a variety of roles with SDSU Extension. “I always knew extension work was my passion because I love the informal, educational framework of extension and the ability to work with families, individuals and communities,” Trautman said.

She started with SDSU Extension in 1988 as a county extension educator for Deuel County, where she collaborated with the community to provide educational resources to families and individuals. In 2000, Trautman became a program leader for 4-H and home economics. In 2004, she also became a program leader for community development. In these roles, she provided organizational leadership to the program areas, as well as supervised and mentored staff and volunteers. From 2006-2010, Trautman served as a leadership development specialist for SDSU Extension, developing curriculum and skill training related to leadership, human and social capital development.

Trautman assumed the role of SDSU Extension associate director in 2011, a position she held until being named the interim director in 2016. In her role as the interim director, Trautman says she has strived to empower staff to be successful while furthering the mission of extension, which is providing relevant, research-based information to the people of South Dakota.

“The premise of extension is lifelong learning and I’m proud of the work our professional staff accomplish each day in meeting this aspect of the extension mission,” Trautman said.  

Looking forward, she says the role of extension is more important now than ever before.

“As issues become increasingly complex, the role of the extension professional will need to adapt. While our mission to provide unbiased, research-based educational and technical expertise will continue, we know that the future will demand the extension professional to serve more predominately as a convener and connector. Our extension professionals will seek to build the collaborative relationships and networks needed while demonstrating the collaborative problem-solving skills required in response to the demands of the societal challenges we face. Ultimately, our objective is to connect communities, families, youth, farmers, ranchers and agri-business people with the resources that can inform the important decisions they will make for the future,” Trautman said.

Trautman holds a bachelor’s degree in home economics extension and a master’s degree in educational administration with an emphasis in adult and higher education, both from South Dakota State University.

She was awarded the SDSU Outstanding Faculty Award in 2007 and received the SDSU Woman of Distinction Award in 2013.

About SDSU Extension

SDSU Extension is the outreach arm of South Dakota State University, the state’s Land Grant university. Since 1881, SDSU Extension has provided research-based information and educational programming to improve the lives and livelihoods of South Dakotans.