BROOKINGS — SDSU Extension has hired 44 field specialists who will work in eight Regional Extension Centers across South Dakota. During a news conference Thursday in Brookings, Barry Dunn, dean of the South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and director of SDSU Extension, announced the names of the new hires, and said a new era in SDSU Extension had begun. The Regional Extension Centers open next week.
"This Friday marks the end of one era in SDSU Extension. Next week, we welcome a new day in SDSU Extension based on the talents of new field specialists and the existing state specialists, efficiencies found in Regional Centers, and information delivery through the iGrow learning platform," Dunn said. "As a result, SDSU Extension is stronger than ever. We remain deeply committed to serving South Dakotans and, in this new era, we will continue to provide them with the research and information they need to be competitive in today's economy."
The new era to which Dunn refers came about in order to comply with state budget cuts set by the Legislature and Governor Daugaard earlier this spring.
"In managing under the new budget environment, SDSU Extension called on staff and stakeholders to help define what elements must be carried forward, and what elements can be retired," Dunn said. "As a result, next week we embark on the largest reorganization of SDSU Extension since its creation in 1914."
Dunn also unveiled a new logo for SDSU Extension.
"We wanted a new look to reflect our new way of doing business," Dunn said.
As a result of the reorganization, Dunn said SDSU Extension will live within the reduced fiscal boundaries of the 2012 state budget.
"Nothing was held back in this reorganization," Dunn said. "Complying with a 10 percent state budget cut is at the root of this entire restructuring. In everything we do, we are careful to be prudent with our dollars and absolutely conservative in our spending. In creating regional Extension centers, we relied primarily on surplus property. We recycled and reused existing equipment, while at the same time worked to assure the continued operation of county facilities that will house 4-H Youth Program advisors."
The reorganization allowed SDSU Extension to reprioritize programs. Capstone programs now include Competitive Livestock Systems, Competitive Cropping Systems, Food and Families, and Communities and 4-H Youth.
"We notably increased support to 4-H and youth and priority programs," Dunn said.
SDSU Extension will increase its use of communications technology and has developed the iGrow teaching platform to deliver information over the internet. A new administrative structure increases communication between field specialists and SDSU academic departments.
"We want the people of South Dakota to know that we have wisely and prudently used financial and staff resources," Dunn said. "The new SDSU Extension system is strong, staffed with field specialists who will, for the first time, all be required to hold a master's degree or earn one in five years. We will be able to deliver programs that South Dakota needs."
The people of SDSU Extension
Karla Trautman, Associate Director of SDSU Extension, announced the conclusion of searches to fill field specialist and program director positions.
"Looking across the board at all field specialist and 4-H Youth Program advisor positions, there were more than 1,000 applicants. Our search processes strictly adhered to university hiring practices. Search committees reviewed all applications and forwarded lists of candidates that met qualifications," Trautman said.
Trautman announced the names of the 44 SDSU Extension field specialists, positions with expanded training requirements and duties.