By Marissa Hatlen
In the wake of a $3.6 million cut to UW-Extension’s statewide budget, the organization lost an estimated 80 jobs in 2016 and 2017, according to Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen. This led to a call for reorganizing the model on which UW-Extension has operated for 100 years; small groups of counties will now be overseen by an Area Director and will share resources, including some educators. County offices were resistant to the idea, warning it would shift resources to urban areas and provide less local accountability, but as UW-Extension begins the transition, local Area Director Rob Burke says he will work hard to make sure county needs are not forgotten under the new model.
Burke also says the shift will modernize UW-Extension’s organization, increasing communication and improving efficiency while also making educational programs and state experts available to larger regions of Wisconsin.