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Stakeholder feedback welcome as Illinois Extension embarks on strategic planning

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URBANA, Ill. — University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Extension programs were established in 1914 as part of the national Smith-Lever Act, which empowered the country’s land-grant universities in the creation of the useful and practical transfer of evidence-based best practices to all residents of their states.

100+ years later, Illinois Extension, a unit of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, is imagining the organization’s next chapter by setting forth on a bold strategic planning process, in collaboration with Huron Consulting Group, to establish priorities, goals, and a common vision for statewide engagement, service, partnership, and impact.

Illinois Extension welcomes input from all stakeholders in this process and invites feedback via an online form. This form will be available through July 31, 2023. Shelly Nickols-Richardson, associate dean and director of University of Illinois Extension, encourages everyone to participate in this process by noting that “we need input from across the state to ensure that Illinois Extension addresses the key current issues and emerging challenges facing Illinois residents. Understanding stakeholder needs is a critical part of our ability to offer educational programs, trainings, and services of importance to those we serve.”

A history of service and impact

Illinois Extension stands as a robust leader among the nationwide Cooperative Extension Service with a workforce of over 640 staff serving the state’s 102 counties through multi-state units that forge partnerships, respond to local needs, and develop programs to make the state and its residents more knowledgeable, aware, healthier, safer, and prosperous.

Extension’s mission is responsive to five major themes—community, economy, environment, food, and health—that are served through six program areas—4-H youth development, agriculture and agribusiness, community and economic development, family and consumer science, integrated health disparities, and natural resources, environment, and energy.

  • Extension’s 2022 impact numbers included:
  • 720K+ program attendees
  • 25K+ educational sessions
  • 12K+ online educational participants
  • 1,800+ 4-H clubs with 24K+ members
  • 1,030 school partnerships
  • 900K+ YouTube educational video views
  • 269 community gardens
  • $200K+ value of donated garden produce

STRATEGIC PLANNING INQUIRIES: Contact Bobbie Jo Lewis-Sibley, 217-300-9291

WRITER: Bridget Lee-Calfas, Director of Marketing and Communications, Illinois Extension

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.