BROOKINGS – Strengthening the interaction of research, education and outreach is happening at a rapid pace in the new model of South Dakota State University Extension.
One such example can be found in SDSU's entomology efforts.
"We've moved from a single state specialist serving as the expert to a team approach," explains Rosie Nold, who serves as agriculture and natural resources program director for SDSU Extension.
That expanded approach now includes five positions to fulfill Extension entomology duties across the state. They include:
• Ada Szczepaniec, SDSU assistant professor and state Extension entomology specialist;
• Kelley Tilmon, SDSU associate professor with a dual assignment for soybean entomology research and Extension;
• Buyung Hadi, who serves as the state's pesticide education and urban entomology coordinator at SDSU;
• Jonathan Nixon, Extension entomology field specialist stationed at the Regional Extension Center in Rapid City;
• and another Extension entomology field specialist who will soon be hired at the Regional Extension Center in Sioux Falls.
Nold says the new format for SDSU Extension provides for greater expertise in specialized areas, while allowing improved relevance for all parts of the state on subjects where geographic differences in climate or topography have an effect on the topics.
"There is simply too much information – or in this case too many bugs – for one generalist to keep up with all the changes," she explains. "Having people on both sides of the state also allows us to focus better on regional insect problems in addition to statewide issues."
Increased integration between Extension and research is another benefit of the new alignments to SDSU Extension.
For instance, as an Extension field specialist, Nixon will not only conduct research, but he will also be right there to educate producers, find out more from the producers and learn what additional research may be relevant.
Nixon can then incorporate that information into continued research efforts with the aim of conducting projects and producing results that can quickly be applied by producers.
The SDSU Extension team is also working to integrate technology communication with growers.
Pest management articles are regularly posted on SDSU Extension's www.iGrow.org website, and other methods of assisting growers are being explored.
Hadi and Tilmon have collaborated to produce a mobile app for soybean insect identification and management.
A new SDSU Extension Entomology page on Facebook has also been established recently to facilitate flow of information and open communication with the producers and general public in South Dakota.
Nold reports that this new approach by SDSU Extension is being implemented across other sectors – from plant pathology and climatology to animal science and natural resources.
"Our aim is to help provide the most relevant, unbiased research-based answers possible," she says.