South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, South Carolina
The land-grant system can be described as a three component system, an equilateral triangle, a three-legged stool each side or leg represents one of the three components, (1) education, (2) research, and (3) extension. The extension mission is supported by the other two components of the system.
The mission of the System of Extension Organizations at the 1890 Land-Grant Institutions and Tuskegee University is to help diverse audiences, with emphasis on those with limited resources, improve their quality of life through the application of educational and research based information focused on critical issues and needs.
The core of the land-grant systern are 1890 and 1862 Land Grant Institutions; 59 agricultural experiment stations and 57 cooperative extension services. Key to the role of the land-grant system as it relates to ourtreach/extension education are the cooperative extension programs offered by 1890 & 1862 institutions and Tuskegee University.
The primary focus of our mission is to improve economic, environmental, and social conditions in rural america. These conditions include improved agricultural and other economic enterprises; safer, cleaner water, food, and air, enhanced stewardship and management of naturalresources; healthier, more responsible and more productive individuals, families and communities; and a stable, diverse and affordable national food supply.
How do we achieve this? Through a problem identification process in my opinion should be proactive rather than reactive. Our mission is issue driven. The course of action that is eventually taken to deal with a situation can be defined as public policy education. Public policy education is an Extension program that applies the knowledge of the university to public issues or problems and educate citizens to enable them to make better-inforrned policy choices. The root of public policy issues is disagreement about what the role of government or the Land-Grant Institution should be. Given this definition, many agents be they agricultural home economists, livestock or crop specialists may find themselves confronted with a public policy issue. Too many of us turn away or run from socio-economic issues, which makes us part of the problem. The agent responsible for a particular program area whether it be agriculture, family living, youth, community development or the environment will inevitably become involved in an issue involving the public either as a change agent or as a citizen impacted by the problem.
It is my perception that the Cooperative Extension Service and especially its 1890 component are not paying enough attention to sustainable agriculture, economic, social and environmental issues. This is a gross mistake and a tragedy, especially when it is impossible to separate economic, social, civil rights and other concerns from our mission statement. To ignore public issues is to ignore our extension mission...... "to improve the quality of life of people with limited resources."
The least educated are often the least informed. Therefore, we have the challenging responsibility of transferring unbiased research based information to limited resource communities for the sake of informed decision making, empower-ment, economics and agricultural sustain-ability.
There are those that believe that we as agents should not and do not go looking for public problems. I for one do not believe that the process of extension education should be initiated only when a problem comes to an office. We as county agents have a moral, professional and judiciary responsibility to the customers we have targeted as limited resource individuals who are limited in education, financial resources and polit-ical influences. There are times when extension education should be pro active rather than reactive, aggressive rather than passive, assertive rather than acquiescent. The role of the Land-Grant System and especially the 1890 component should take a more aggressive leadership role in problem identification and problem solving.
Return to Table of Contents
Return to Title Page