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Challenges of funding an evolving extension service.
M. A. DRAPER (1). (1) USDA-NIFA, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

In the world that we live in today, information sources are legion. We often hear of information overload. So much information is released and interpreted for the audience to address specific viewpoints. Discerning information has become a substantial challenge for our society today. Readers are challenged to determine validity and applicability. We are all tempted to prefer information that is consistent with some specific message. Our extension clientele face that challenge, as do our university administrations, our legislators, and even our scientists and extension specialists. Are we sufficiently analytical in today’s culture? We may have ceded that responsibility to others. To confront the information quality challenge, Extension is faced with a greater need for communication than ever before. Compelling messaging must be nuanced for specific audiences. Legislators and government officials are more focused on oversight and accountability than ever before and they see competition as a surrogate for accountability. If science fails to recognize that Congress takes accountability and oversight seriously, that fatal step can endanger Extension’s capacity funding. At this point Extension programs have the advantage and disadvantage of fewer reporting requirements than other federally funded programs at USDA-NIFA. Understanding reporting and non-traditional audiences will be critical to assuring a strong Cooperative Extension Service in the next 100 years.

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