The South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences is restructuring of the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service.
It is closing county offices and moving specialists to seven region centers. The centers will be in Aberdeen, Faith, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown.
As part of the move, about half of the livestock and crop specialists in the state will be cut.
The change is a result of a $1.2 million cut in state and federal funding this year and more than $400,000 in funding reductions that occurred over the past two year years, says Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, in a statement released by his office.
"Given the budget reductions, face-to-face delivery as the primary teaching method for Extension is no longer financially practical or socially required for most audiences," Dunn says. "This restructuring will maintain our support for critical audiences. It strengthens our commitment to agriculture and communities, and it renews our commitment to 4-H, youth and families."
Current appointments for all county extension educators will terminate on Oct. 21 following the conclusion of the 4-H year, Achievement Days and State Fair.
To man the regional centers, SDSU Extension will create the classification of extension field specialist that would require a minimum of a master's degree. Field specialists will be administered by SDSU academic departments and located in regional extension centers to offer statewide programming.
Extension will also create the position of 4-H advisor to assure the uninterrupted delivery of 4-H programs. Starting in October, these positions will be responsible for 4-H program activities, Achievement Days and 4-H at State Fair. South Dakota counties will be invited to participate in monetary support that is appropriate for their budgets.
Under the new administrative structure, the position of director of extension will be held jointly by the dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, thereby reducing the number of administrative appointments. An associate director will be appointed from existing staff. Three administrative positions of district extension directors will be terminated.
The new structure calls for a director of field operations and five program directors. Extension will refocus efforts in five capstone areas. These include:
• Competitive crop systems;
• Competitive livestock systems;
• Youth and community leadership, including the 4-H program;
• Food and family; and
• Urban and Rural Initiatives.