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January 03. 2012 6:45PM

UNH Cooperative Extension to cut staff following funding drop

DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension has undergone a major reorganization that included cutting more than 15 percent of its staff following a major cut in funding.

The extension, which provides statewide services like training volunteers to monitor the quality of lakes, lost about 23 percent of its budget, or about $1.7 million, this fiscal year, largely because of a 48 percent cut in state funding to UNH. Strafford County also cut its funding to the cooperative extension and was the only county in the state to do so.

While UNH earns plenty of money through tuition and for housing and feeding students, the cooperative extension gets the majority of its funding through the state, counties or the federal government, leading to a disproportionate hit relative to the rest of the school, dean and director of the cooperative extension John Pike said.

To make up for the lost money, the cooperative extension cut 23 positions, five through layoffs.

Pike said the cooperative extension will continue to pursue its mission of providing “research-based education and information to enhance their ability to make informed decisions that strengthen youth, families and communities, sustain natural resources, and improve the economy.”

But, the organization must now do more with less. To that end, it is reorganization its employees away from its numerous program areas and into teams focused on food and agriculture, natural resources, community and economic development and youth and family.

“Our methods of delivering programs will change but our mission will not,” Pike said.

Each county will continue to have a 4-H program, but now rather than people connecting with local cooperative extension employees, they will instead have access to all of the extension’s employees, many of whom work at UNH.

Pike also said the cooperative extension must find new sources of revenue, including grants, user fees and donations.

In time, Pike said he hopes to fully make up for the lost funding.

“We believe funding will not only be fully recovered but will nurture continued growth and expansion of programs offered by the UNH Cooperative Extension to New Hampshire communities,” he said.

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To learn more about the cooperative extension’s reorganization, visit: http://extension.unh.edu/Re-Extension-Final-Report.pdf.


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