The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has wrapped up a series of 14 public listening sessions and is moving forward on schedule with a systemwide reorganization effort in 2014.

The listening sessions took place over a six-week period at locations ranging from Plymouth on the coast to Bryson City in the mountains. Nearly 2,000 employees, volunteers, elected officials, agricultural producers and others participated.

(For an earlier report on the reorganization, see North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service mapping its future).

Summaries, photos and video from the sessions are available online at the initiative website under the “Listening Sessions” section. The Visioning Committee will meet to review the input early in 2014.

The organization launched its Strategic Vision and Planning Initiative to develop and implement a plan for long-term success and sustainability. The Cooperative Extension Service has experienced $20 million in permanent state and federal budget cuts since 2000, resulting in the loss of numerous positions both on campus and in the counties through unfilled vacancies, though no layoffs have occurred.

“This thorough business model review, and any subsequent change, is necessary if we are to continue meeting the needs of North Carolinians for another 100 years,” said Joe Zublena, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service director. “To quote one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known, Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’”

The initiative aims to identify the most valued programs and services for North Carolina citizens and businesses as the organization approaches its centennial celebration in May 2014.

The Visioning Team of Extension employees and representatives from partner organizations, local governments and community groups will begin analyzing stakeholder feedback in a focused meeting the week of Jan. 20.

The team will meet over the course of three days in January and February and throughout the spring to review the input provided and other data. Team members will evaluate the needs, concerns and ideas submitted in order to craft a recommended plan and strategy for moving forward in May 2014.


Following is a list of key resources to save, bookmark, follow, like, etc. for timely updates and materials regarding the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Vision Initiative.

“Since the effort was first announced in the fall of 2013, we’ve made significant progress thanks to the time and dedication of our employees, local governments and other valued partners and stakeholders,” said Zublena.

“I extend our sincere appreciation to all of those who have gotten us to this point; your participation and passion have been inspiring. Together we’ll continue on this path to another century of stellar service for the people of North Carolina.”