Extension a victim of ISU budget cuts

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

Mills County Extension Director Sherry Ford said she and many of her colleagues across the state were surprised to learn that their jobs will be eliminated later this year as part of an Iowa State University’s “restructuring” plan.

“We knew there were going to be budget cuts, but eliminating all county directors was a shock,” Ford said.

County extension directors learned on April 30 that the number of county extension directors across the state would be reduced from 97 to 20. Mills County will be placed in Region 17, sharing a director with Harrison, Montgomery, Fremont, Page and Pottawattamie Counties.

Ford, who has served as county extension director for 10 years, said she’ll have a job for at least 90 days once she receives written notice that her position is being eliminated. Extension director positions aren’t expected to be eliminated until after the county fair season has passed.

In addition to Ford, Mills County Extension has one full-time and two part-time employees and five after-school program part-timers. Extension office decisions will now be made by the county’s extension council.

“They’ll still have their jobs, but there won’t be anyone in the county to manage the office or oversee programming in the county,” Ford said. “Extension will just look different.”

Ford said it’s unlikely that she’ll seek a regional extension director position.

“I like to work developing personal relationships in the community,” she said.

Iowa State is expecting to lose $38 million in state money this year. The extension budget is being cut by an estimated $4.15 million.

The university also plans to eliminate 350 student courses and several hundred on-campus positions.