National Extension Is Taking A Role In Climate Change

Jun 23, 2021

Climate change seems to be a hot topic in politics and science. Last April, Extension members from all over the country came together to talk about their role in this issue. Joining me today is Roslynn McCann, Sustainable Community Specialists with USU Extension. 

So, what is Extension doing to guide federal leadership when it comes to climate change?

Roslynn McCann- In 2019, our group formed the National Extension Climate Initiative, and now there are over 500 people involved in that nationally. And with that, we are working on a few different angles.

This last year, we researched extending programming across the country and climate change- what is currently happening with university research and reaching out to the general public through our Cooperative Extension System. We found a set of just over 40 programs that had climate change as a focus.

Then we interviewed those individuals and found out the opportunities, barriers, and strategies for success when offering these types of programs. From what we found with those interviews, the National Extension Climate Initiative decided to host federal leaders and the deans of expression from around the country. The Initiative provided a venue for all of us working in Extension to hear what the priority is, set it at the national level, discuss if deans also see climate change as a priority, etc. 

That Action Forum happened in April and has been exciting because we now have a set of action items that we're working on to present back to federal leaders.

Kailey Foster- How can this conversation impact the future of extension programming?

RM-I think that there's going to be some major changes at play. This past year, one change that happened with Extension is National Extension formed a set of committees to deal with specific topics, one of which was climate change. I'm serving as a liaison between boots on the ground- people with Extension across the country and national levels. 

We are making decisions now regarding offering a conference for us all to come together and talk about this topic and looking at what funding pools will be opening up. We already have new funds available this summer for this type of work and are coordinating with the USDA climate hubs around the country. 

We are providing recommendations for increased personnel to up our game when it comes to this. With the current administration, there is a lot of this coming down the pipeline and a lot of support. 

It's a pretty exciting time. We're now asking these hard questions of how do we provide information and training to all get on the same speed when it comes to the science of climate change and human-induced climate change.

KF- Where can people go to get more information on this?

RM-The National extension Climate Initiative that I talked about, we have a website for that. nationalextensionClimateInitiative.net