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This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 95 No. 4, p. 1827-1835
     
    Received: Dec 02, 2016
    Accepted: Feb 13, 2017
    Published: April 13, 2017


    2 Corresponding author(s): gregory.lardy@ndsu.edu
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doi:10.2527/jas.2016.1266

EXTENSION EDUCATION SYMPOSIUM: Getting the most out of your extension appointment and still having a life1

  1. W. Powers*,
  2. N. Cockett and
  3. G. Lardy 2
  1. * Office of the President, University of California, Oakland 94607
     Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, Utah State University, Logan 84322-4815
     Department of Animal Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo 58108-6050

Abstract

Managing the demands of an academic appointment in extension can be a challenging task. Demands from constituent groups, expectations of supervisors, and rigors of promotion and tenure processes can create pressures that young faculty did not expect. Throw in spousal and family duties and you have created a situation that many will find hard to navigate. However, there are ways to cope and, even better news, there are ways to excel in meeting the demands of an academic appointment and enjoying life. Because many new extension faculty members do not have prior experience in extension, best practices in documenting programs and extension scholarship over the pretenure period are provided in this paper. Appointments that include both research and extension are quite common at many land grant universities. The advantages of joint appointments are numerous and include the fact that more and more grant agencies are seeking integrated research, teaching, and/or extension projects. However, the time demands of joint appointments can be challenging. Joint appointments can be designed to help faculty members conduct important translational research and have it be applied in a production setting. By seeking commonalities in research and extension efforts, joint appointments can be very synergistic. Development of highly successful programs requires planning on the front end with an emphasis on an in-depth needs assessment to determine stakeholder needs for both research and extension. Impact assessment should be part of this planning effort. Performing as a successful extension faculty member while maintaining relationships outside of work is challenging and requires deliberate effort on the part of employees and supervisors to realize there is more to life than work. Some authors have referred to this as work–life balance, but it may be more helpful to think of it as work–life effectiveness. To do this, one needs to 1) define what success looks like, 2) set boundaries and maintain control including control of your schedule, and 3) find time to ensure your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being are nurtured in addition to your professional development. In summary, extension careers can be challenging at times as demands and expectations of stakeholders, supervisors, and rigors of the tenure system create formidable obstacles. However, by keeping a focus on the priorities of the position and looking for synergy in research and extension work, they can actually be quite enjoyable and very rewarding.

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