Section 3: University of Missouri Extension Roles and Responsibilities

In extension, three levels of government — federal, state and local — work together. At each of these levels, extension involves many participants. Each participant has defined roles and responsibilities. The success of University of Missouri Extension depends upon each participant performing their role effectively and efficiently. This gives an overview of participation in the extension system at each level.


The federal partner is the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Cooperative Extension System. NIFA’s role includes:

  • Identification of issues and trends that affect and can be affected by extension
  • Recommendation of appropriate legislation and policy to Congress
  • Communication of funding needs to Congress
  • Consultation on program development with state extension services
  • Evaluation of program implementation and progress


At the state level, extension is implemented through land-grant universities. In Missouri, these are MU Extension and the 1890 land-grant Lincoln University, working under an agreement to cooperate in programming.

MU Extension's responsibilities include:

  • Maintenance and promotion of the land-grant system, including research, resident teaching and extension
  • Receipt and disbursement of funds for extension activities from a variety of sources
  • Cooperation with USDA and other federal agencies that affect extension or participate with extension in the delivery of programs
  • Identification of issues and trends that may affect the state's residents
  • Provision of information to regional specialists related to research, trends and issues
  • Employment of professional staff at state and local levels to carry out extension programs
  • Supervision of county extension offices


At the county level, MU Extension field faculty specialists work in partnership with local people to identify, plan and execute appropriate educational programs.

Each county has a local faculty member who has coordination duties in addition to programmatic responsibilities. Coordination involves assisting the county extension council in planning and implementing local educational programs using available resources — financial, professional staff and volunteers.

County commissions have three roles related to MU Extension:

  • Participating in extension council deliberations through an appointed member of the council
  • Helping identify local educational needs and priorities
  • Providing funds from county revenues for support of local extension office and programs

The county extension council's responsibilities in MU Extension education include:

  • Assisting in the identification, planning and delivery of educational programs to meet local needs, including the collection of fees, solicitation of contributions, and cooperation with other counties
  • Approving the assignment of regional specialists headquartered in the county, making recommendations concerning their removal and being consulted prior to discharge of personnel
  • Managing the finances of local extension activities, including working with county commissioners to prepare a local budget that will meet the needs of the county plan of work; paying salaries and expenses related to operation of the local office; collecting fees for programs and activities; requisitioning the monthly appropriation from the county commission; and providing the commission with an accounting of expenditures
  • Electing and organizing the local extension council, including setting a time, date and place for elections; nominating at least two people for each elective position on the council; soliciting appointments of members by farm organizations and eligible municipalities; publishing notices of election, canvassing the vote and certifying the election to the county clerk; electing a chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer, who will meet at least once a month; and holding an annual meeting and at least bimonthly council meetings.

In summary

MU Extension is a complex organization requiring the involvement of many participants to be successful. It is a three-way partnership with federal, state and local governments cooperating to provide educational resources to the citizens of the state.