Careers in Cooperative Extension

Published on: Oct 14, 2019

I remember the first time I published outcomes from a management experiment in a peer‐reviewed journal. I was proud of my work and excited that managers would be able to integrate my suggestions into their plans. After the publication came out, I sent a copy to the manager of a state park and asked him if the paper could be useful for vegetation management in the park. The manager informed me that he generally didn't have time to read scientific literature, and that – for the most part – he was more likely to seriously consider science‐based recommendations from individuals who were knowledgeable of his management needs. I realized that if I wanted to produce applied science that was actually used by managers, then a typical faculty job might not be the best fit for me. – ESG

Cooperative Extension (CE) is a partnership between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), land‐grant universities, and state and local governments, with the goal of delivering research‐based programs and information to the public. This “public” comprises a huge diversity of stakeholders, including public and private land owners and managers; farmers and ranchers; and home gardeners and governmental agencies. CE consists of a network of publicly engaged scientists, outreach professionals, and educators, with interdisciplinary research and extension efforts spanning agricultural, ecological, and human resource fields. While research and outreach are familiar to all ecologists, CE is a relatively unique program that exists outside of traditional academia. For over 100 years, CE personnel and collaborating partners have made existing science useful and accessible, and developed novel approaches and tools to effectively solve problems and address new opportunities (WebPanel 1).

To read the rest of this article in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, please click here.