The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has launched a strategic visioning and planning initiative.

The goal is to evaluate the organization’s business model, adapt accordingly to the current economic environment and devise a strategy going forward.

The Cooperative Extension Service in North Carolina has seen recurring federal and state budget cuts of around $20 million since 2000, resulting in the loss of roughly 90 positions — mostly at the county level — over the past four years.

“We are at the point where we must prioritize what we can do best with the staffing that our funding will support,” said Joe Zublena, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service director.

“The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has provided a century’s worth of education and solutions that help families and communities succeed. Through this initiative, priority one is to ensure another 100 years of trusted service for the people of North Carolina.”

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES) is part of North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and a national Cooperative Extension network.

NCCES partners with county and tribal governments and North Carolina A&T State University’s Cooperative Extension Program to provide research-based educational programs in 4-H, Agriculture, Family & Consumer Sciences and Community Development to citizens in all 100 counties and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.

As part of the strategic vision initiative, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is holding a series of 12 listening sessions across the state in November and December 2013. The organization is seeking input from employees, local governments and community partners as it addresses current economic challenges and positions itself for long-term success going into its centennial celebration.