Partnered for Success

University of Illinois Extension’s mission is to enable people to improve their lives through learning partnerships that put knowledge to work. Key partners in this effort are the local citizens who advise us on issues of local, regional, and state significance. Advisory councils exist at all three levels of the organization—local, regional, and state.

While there are council issues specific to each level of the organization, there also are issues that “feed up” from the local to state level or “filter down” from the state to local level. Regular communication between the various levels provides all council members with a better understanding of their critical role in the large Extension organization—that is, to ensure that Extension’s programs remain relevant and continue to meet the needs of the people of Illinois.

The Extension Council Guide

The Extension Council Guide is a comprehensive resource for council members which provides an orientation to the Extension system, as well as detailed information about how the council is organized; its roles and responsibilities; Extension financing; programming and personnel; and legal provisions governing Extension and council operations.

Local Extension Councils serve either a single county office or a multi-county unit. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees, in accordance with state law, authorizes local councils to be actively involved in the operation of Extension. Extension councils serve in an advisory role cooperating with Extension staff in planning, promoting, developing, implementing, evaluating and financing an Extension program designed to meet the needs, interests, and resources of the local communities served.

Local Extension councils are made up of 15-20 volunteers representing the county or counties served. Nominees are identified locally and include a diverse group of individuals who respect the Extension organization and who are interested in its programs in their communities. The Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Services reviews the nominations and makes the appointments.

A Regional Advisory Council exists in each of the three Illinois Extension regions. This group exists to provide advice and counsel to the regional director. They serve as a forum for local Extension councils to cooperate in providing educational programs for the region and to exchange information of regional concern. In addition, the regional advisory council provides a linkage between the state and local levels.

The Regional Advisory Councils are made up of one representative from each local council, usually the chairman or a designee.

The Extension State Advisory Council (ESAC) acts as an advisory group to the Associate Dean, Extension and Outreach, and the Extension Administrative Team. ESAC may make recommendations to University of Illinois Extension on such matters as pertain to the development and furtherance of the Extension program. These recommendations and suggestions may be reported to Extension councils and other interested groups on campus and throughout the state. ESAC members are encouraged to attend local council meetings and meetings of their Regional Advisory Council to share ESAC's discussions or to identify issues for consideration by ESAC.

ESAC is made up of 15 members (3 members from each Extension region). Regional directors identify members after consultation with local Extension staff. Generally, ESAC members have a record of prior service on a local council. Nominees are selected with diversity in mind.