This document contains a list of educational services for counties that may have a gap in Extension Educator coverage (e.g. vacancy due to resignations, retirements, etc.). Area Extension Directors (AEDs) and neighboring educators can reference this guide for types of support that are provided at either a statewide-level, by the AED, or by other educators depending on the type/duration of the vacancy.
There are many reasons why a county may not have institute/programmatic coverage - including the lack of county support (financial or program interest), unavailability of state match for cofunding, and staff resignations and retirements. In some cases, the time frame of the vacancy may be short-term. In other cases, a hiring freeze, uncertain budgets, or staff position reallocations may create long-term or permanent 'gaps' in coverage.
Educators (within the county or Institute-affiliated neighboring educators) may attempt or be asked (by residents, partners, or AEDs) to fill the vacancy gap at some level based on the support of their home and adjacent counties.
This document guides the types of support provided either statewide, by AEDs or other educators depending on the types/duration of a vacancy.
Here are a list of options for educational services based on the duration and condition of the vacancy:
1) Educational services that are available on a statewide basis (regardless of individual county investment).
- Extension virtual programs. These can be programs offered on a state or regional basis. It could also be through accessing an individual county virtual program that has open enrollment opportunities.
- The vacant county residents can travel to a neighboring county to attend meetings, presentations, and programs.
- Residents or partner organizations can access statewide/regional resources and programming available through Extension Specialists and Centers.
2) Providing educational services when there is a vacancy in a county that continues to invest in an Extension presence.
- AED, in partnership with Institute Directors, Program Managers, and nearby educators, could share the following information to maintain resident access:
- Newsletters and other information with stakeholders
- Advertise options to participate in virtual programs or relevant programs offered in a neighboring county
- Connection to a state specialist or campus-based center
- Adjacent educators may provide the following services:
- Accept phone calls or requests from clients particularly if it relates to their primary programming. Educators should regularly connect with their AED to discuss the volume of calls and requests and if adjustments are needed.
- There is not an expectation that educators will provide customized programming outside of their current programming emphasis or travel to the vacant county to provide educational service. However, a written understanding among the employee, supervisor (and academic department), institute director, and county partners could be created to outline the coverage for educational services during this temporary vacancy. The educational support arrangement should document the percentage of time/effort, how educator travel and other support needs will be met, and the arrangement's duration. Supervisors must work with Extension Human Resources and the Office of Financial Services when exploring this type of arrangement. Please contact email@example.com if considering such an arrangement.
- In certain circumstances, program managers, other statewide or regional staff may be able to provide some specific, customized support to maintain program continuity, particularly in the case of temporary vacancies. AEDs should consult with institute directors to explore the feasibility and appropriateness before engaging these staff in supporting program continuity.
3) Providing educational services when a county no longer supports an Extension office.
All baseline state/virtual services are available to residents and organizations within the county. However, the following services are reduced or not provided:
- There will be minimal to no county Extension Educator programming, coalition support, field visits or consultations that are driven by county-specific needs.
- 4-H programs, related volunteer support, and associated risk and liability protections will not be available. Youth members and volunteers will need to select a neighboring county program to transfer their enrollment and travel to receive those services.
- Other Extension volunteer programs may similarly require discontinuation of the local program or transfer of enrollment.
- Some exceptions to in-person Extension presence in the county may apply in situations where fully grant-funded efforts are being led by Extension.