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UW Extension Wants You to Think Longterm

University of Wisconsin Extension is planning ahead for what resources citizens might need in twenty years.

Extension is surveying residents throughout the state to find out what role people think it should play in the future. 

Greg Hutchins, Associate Vice chancellor for UW Extension, says the system wants to know how to stay relevant in the coming decades…whether that means using more technology to deliver programs, or offering completely new kinds of programs.    

“This is the first time in a long time that we have done this kind of long range kind of planning, this far out into the future. Typically we would plan anywhere from 1-4 years, so this sort of look, 10-20, is outside of what we would ordinarily do.”

As Hutchins describes, the online survey is a brief series of open-ended questions…asking how people view the role of Extension, and how they would like to see the agency interact in the community. 

“It’s useful to get feedback on current operations, but we want people to also take that next step and look to the future, and try to project or forecast, what it is they would like to see from us. And to not be constrained by what we do now.”

The survey is online through October 31st.  Hutchins says the next phase of the process will be getting people together to discuss different scenarios for Extension’s future.  Those forums are set to be scheduled early next year. 

This year marks the hundred year anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which created a network of cooperative extension programs in different parts of the U.S.  Twelve other states are also using surveys to do long-range planning this year.    

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