IMPACT Leaflet No. 10

The Organization of Extension

Charles St. Clair, Community Development Specialist

University of Missouri Extension is a unique partnership among federal, state and local governments. This partnership gives Extension flexibility in its delivery of programs, innovation in its approach to administration, and an ability to be comprehensive in its assessment of societal trends and educational needs among the people it serves. The partnership can be symbolized by as three interlocking circles.

Graphic showing three intersecting circles that represent federal, state and local entitiesAt the federal level, Extension is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, headed by the administrator for the Cooperative Extension System, who reports to the assistant secretary of agriculture for science and education. In Missouri, Extension is a cooperative program of all four campuses and Lincoln University and is managed under the Chancellor of UM Columbia. The administrative head of University of Missouri Extension is the Vice Provost/Director of Extension and Director of Off-Campus Operations.

At the local level, Extension is supported by 114 county governments and administered by elected county extension councils.

Federal Legislation

Each partner has a legislative basis for participation in Extension activities. The Cooperative Extension Service was established by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. This federal legislation established the three-part support of Extension, creating operating mechanisms through the USDA and establishing the link with the land-grant universities that were previously authorized by the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.

Missouri Statutes

Prior to the passage of Smith-Lever in 1914, the Missouri Legislature had authorized county courts (now called county commissions) to appropriate funds for a county farm advisor to work with the University of Missouri to encourage modern farm practices. Subsequent legislation was passed in 1919, 1923, 1943 and 1945 to continue this work. In 1955, all previous laws related to extension were repealed and a new law enacted, which provided for the organization of extension at the county level under the supervision of an elected extension council. Today's legislation is found in the Missouri Revised Statues, Section 262.550 to 262.620.

County Participation

The authorizing legislation in Missouri mandates the participation of county governments in Extension by establishing minimum financial support from county appropriations, according to the assessed valuation of the county. In addition, the county commission appoints one of its members to serve on the county extension council to assure cooperation and coordination.

USDA Organization

The administrator for the Cooperative Extension System within USDA oversees the work of program leaders in agriculture, home economics and human nutrition, 4-H and youth development, natural resources and rural development, and program development, evaluation and management systems (see IMPACT Leaflet No. 10a). The Congress has oversight committees in both houses, and a variety of structures at national and regional levels add to the delivery and evaluation of Extension programs, including the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and the Regional Rural Development Centers.

In Missouri, University of Missouri Extension coordinates Extension programming of all four campuses and Lincoln University and managed under the Chancellor of UM Columbia.  IMPACT Leaflet No. 10b shows how Missouri's University of Missouri Extension is organized.

UM-System Administration

The ultimate policy-making and operational responsibility for University of Missouri Extension through the UM System, rests with the nine-member Board of Curators, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Missouri Senate. The Chancellor of the UM Columbia has administrative responsibility for University of Missouri Extension. This responsibility is delegated to the Vice Provost and Director of Extension.

Program Direction

Reporting to the Vice Provost and Director of Extension in Missouri are five program directors and Director of Off-Campus Operations.  There are eight regional directors who supervise the field faculty specialists and staff working at the county level.  They, in turn, report to the Director of Off-Campus Operations.  Each county has a County Program Director responsible for day-to-day operation of the county extension center.

Extension on Campus

On each campus, extension resources are directed by a chancellor through a campus extension administrator and deans of schools and colleges. Extension resources and programs differ from campus to campus, and campus faculty specialists are responsible to the deans of their respective schools or colleges. Extension field faculty specialists have working relationships with campus faculty specialists for the development of programs to meet the needs of local people.

University of Missouri State Extension Council

An important part of the Extension system at the state level is the University of Missouri State Extension Council (UMESC). It is made up of citizens from across the state who are the "eyes and ears" of Extension at the local level. Elected by the regional extension councils and the three major Metro counties, the UMESC members have responsibility for advising the Vice Provost/Director of Extension and Director of Off-Campus Operations on programs and potentials for University of Missouri Extension.

Lincoln University

In addition to the four-campus UM System, Extension in Missouri has an additional component — Lincoln University Cooperative Extension  (LU). LU is an 1890 land-grant university and operates a variety of research and Extension programs in cooperation with the UM System. The LU Board of Curators has responsibility for setting policy and overseeing administration of LU's Extension program. The board in turn delegates that authority to the director of cooperative extension through the president of the University. LU employs state extension specialists in agriculture, home economics, community development, youth development and gerontology. They work with UM System faculty specialists in Missouri's 114 counties.

Extension in the County

Extension is most visible at the county level. Two groups play important roles in carrying out the Extension mission — the county commission and the county extension council. The county commission is a 3-member, elected body, which oversees the administration of public business in a variety of areas, including safety, transportation and social services. The commission makes funds available for the extension office and programs. In addition, the commission represents citizens at large by appointing one of its members to serve on the county extension council.

The county extension council is an elected body whose responsibility is to work as a partner with field faculty specialists to select, develop and promote educational programs through the extension network. Made up of not less than 10 nor more than 20 elected members and a number of appointed members, the council works with the county commission and staff to develop and oversee an educational program that will meet the needs of county citizens. Council members may serve two consecutive two-year terms and may be re-elected after one year off the council.

 In Summary

While Extension's organizational structure may appear complicated with many participants playing roles, this diversity at the three levels ensures accountability and responsiveness to the needs and desires of those whom Extension serves. Extension's strength is its flexibility and adaptability in ever-changing national, state and local environments.