Friday, January 26, 2018
In an interview following a recent visit with farmers that serve on the IFB board of directors, Kidwell discussed what's ahead after a busy first year.
Kimberlee Kidwell, U of I College of ACES dean, left, provided an update to IFB President Richard Guebert Jr., lower right, and other board members when they met recently in Bloomington. (Photo by Mike Orso)
By Jim Taylor and Mike Orso
The leader of the agriculture program at Illinois’ land-grant university wants Extension to be a primary focus this year.
“We’re really working hard on setting the tone for the future,” said Kim Kidwell, Ph.D., dean of U of I’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). “I think that’s the highest priority for what we’re going to do in 2018.”
Kidwell has been in her role for more than a year, traveling across Illinois and talking up the land-grant school. She appointed a task force to examine what she calls “Extension 3.0.”
“To accomplish this, we may have to reshape how college and Extension personnel view each other in regards to living into the land-grant mission,” Kidwell wrote last February. “Who is responsible for translating ACES research to citizens of the state and around the globe?”
Through Extension, U of I offers educational programs to farmers, consumers and others in all 102 Illinois counties through 28 “units” throughout the state. Kidwell said a vibrant Extension means becoming more current in how programs are delivered as well as bringing in more funding sources to the service.
“That will create some sustainability around how we pay for the things we love to do,” said Kidwell.
The College of ACES dean said the task force report was due mid-month. She plans to move right into implementation of its recommendations.
“You’ll see a lot of action and talk about how we’re trying to activate that translation between some of the research we’re doing on campus and how that gets into communities,” said Kidwell. “When we do what we do well, people are using information that we generate on campus to make decisions in their homes and in their industries.”
On falling short of the role of Extension outreach, Kidwell said that can’t be an option.
“When we don’t do that, we actually aren’t fulfilling the land-grant mission, so we have a big focus on trying to create more vibrancy and more opportunity.”
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.
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