A delegation representing the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) recently visited the University of Delaware to get a firsthand look at how agriculture extension works in the First State and how that might be useful in establishing similar programs in Mexico.
The daylong sojourn included meeting with Robin Morgan, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and UD Cooperative Extension program leaders and county extension directors. A tour of the UD farm hosted by Scott Hopkins, farm superintendent, and a flavorful visit to the UDairy Creamy complemented morning and afternoon information sharing sessions held in Townsend Hall.
“We are delighted to have you here,” Morgan told members of the delegation. “We are always trying to promote Cooperative Extension.”
Morgan noted UD’s status as a land-grant university with a three-part mission that includes teaching, research and outreach.
“Celebrating that outreach component is very important to us,” Morgan said. “Cooperative Extension has really changed agriculture in America, and if we have anything to do with it, that will continue as we go forward.”
Jose de Jesus Alaya Padilla, director general of Mexico’s National Institute for the development of Capacities of Rural sector (INCA Rural), said that convincing faculty members that is to their benefit to participate in university-based extension programs represents a significant challenge.
“We find that some researchers in the universities say they don’t have enough incentives to go out there and do extension services,” Padilla said. “We worry about that.”
Morgan noted that a similar situation exists at American universities, where faculty members are promoted based on their publications and the grants they receive.
“What we have done here is to give people very clear appointments, and to let those people do scholarship in extension and document that,” Morgan said. “We have had really good success because individuals have done stellar work. We then document this with outside peer reviews.”
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Article by Jerry Rhodes