UT Extension is committed to maintaining a county-based presence, though other land-grant institutions across the country have moved to a regional model. A county-based model enables Extension to respond to local needs, reach more people, and provide education statewide that addresses critical issues such as obesity, positive youth development, agricultural sustainability and community development. With offices in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties, UT Extension made 4.5 million direct contacts in 2009, resulting in an estimated economic impact of $343 million.

“The loss of this many positions may require that we carefully consider our program offerings and how to deliver them,” Cross said. “Changes of that nature would also be made thoughtfully, transparently and with stakeholder input.”

In addition to having the right staff in the right locations, Extension’s strategic plan identifies five strategic goals. They include delivering unbiased, research-based education to address the greatest needs of Tennessee families, farmers, youth and communities; expanding partnerships, funding and infrastructure; becoming the employer of choice to attract and retain a diverse and highly qualified workforce; maximizing organizational efficiency and effectiveness; and increasing the visibility of Extension as a trusted and valued source of knowledge for Tennessee residents.

Extension’s budget reductions are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture’s overall reductions. When stimulus funds end in June, the Institute will have reduced its budget a total of $13 million since 2008.

UT Extension http://extension.tennessee.edu operates in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties as the off-campus division of the UT Institute of Agriculture. An educational outreach organization, funded by federal, state and local governments, UT Extension, in cooperation with Tennessee State University, brings research-based information about agriculture, family and consumer sciences, youth and community development to the people of Tennessee where they live and work.

A graphic of the staffing plan is available online at http://www.agriculture.utk.edu/news/releases/2011/01-ExtensionStaffing.html.