Program Teams and Priorities

Penn State Extension's new programmatic model focuses on unique areas of excellence and empowers program teams to develop and deliver high quality programs in all 67 counties.

A Team Approach

Extension's new vision complements Extension’s vital core as a local, county-based organization, by empowering local Extension educators and faculty to work as part of a statewide program team, structured around expertise and focusing on addressing the priority needs of defined key industries and audiences. As a team, they will develop relevant, high-quality, research-based information and programs for delivery in the counties wherever they are needed across the state.

Implementation Timeline

  • October 15, 2011: new program teams defined
  • November 1, 2011: Extension educator team assignments completed
  • March 1, 2012: Extension program leaders announced
  • September 1, 2015: "Extension Program Leader" titles changed to "Assistant Director of Programs"

Outcomes for Stakeholders Under the New Program Team Model

  • Improved and increased access to specific expertise and comprehensive information, and availability of a broader array of high-quality, consistent educational programs.
  • Programs, resources, and expertise more sharply focused on key sectors and issues, such as Marcellus Shale, Chesapeake Bay, animal welfare, and others.
  • Extension educators and expertise stationed in all 67 counties, strategically positioned based largely on the distribution and concentration of agriculture sectors and issues.
  • More direct input into programs and priorities through the implementation of stakeholder advisory groups and program team planning processes.
  • Visible points of contact to statewide program teams, providing more interaction and opportunities to enhance partnerships, collaboration, and funding around key issues.
  • Universal access to information and programs through diverse technologies and formats, such as face-to-face programs, online communities, Web-based methods (websites, webinars, blogs), e-books, and smart phone applications, so stakeholders can access information when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it.

Program Focus: Decision-Making Criteria

  • Economic impacts of ag sectors and priority issues
  • Geographic distribution and concentration of sectors and issues
  • College's ability to provide unique support
  • Geographic distribution of Extension human resources
  • Identified priority areas in AG Futures and College Strategic Plan

Program Focus: College Areas of Excellence

Under the new program model, Penn State Extension will focus primarily on areas in which the College of Agricultural Sciences has unique strengths and proven excellence:

Food and Fiber Production and Processing

  • Crop production
  • Animal production/health/welfare
  • Pest prediction and response/pollinators
  • Food safety and quality
  • Food and health science
  • Farm safety

Environmental Management

  • Nutrient management
  • Air quality and management
  • Water quality and quantity
  • Conservation best management practices (BMP)
  • Agricultural facilities best management practices (BMP)
  • Green infrastructure

Economic and Community Development

  • 4-H
  • Energy/Marcellus Shale
  • Sustainable farm businesses
  • Ag entrepreneurship/value added
  • Job development
  • Policy and agricultural economic analysis

New Program Teams

All Extension educators will participate on an Extension program team that will develop and deliver programs across the state and will report to an Assistant Director of Programs. The 11 Penn State Extension programs teams include:

Program AreaAssistant Director of Programs

Program Team

Key Industries and Audiences

Animal Systems

Chester Hughes









Plant Systems

Chris Houser

Field and Forage Crops

Field and Forage Crop Producers

Allied Industries

Renewable Natural Resources

Forest Industry


Mike Masiuk


Tree and Small Fruits including grapes (wine)


Green Industry

Food & Health Sciences

Marilyn Corbin

Family Consumer Science


Catherine Cutter

Food Safety & Quality

Food Industry

4-H Youth Development

Christy Bartley

4-H Youth Development

Youth, Youth Leaders

Entrepreneurship, Ag. Business and Economic and Community Development

Jim Ladlee

Ag Entrepreneurship and Economic, Community Development

Communities and Agricultural

Businesses, Small Businesses

Veterinary Medicine and Public Health Ernest Hovingh Animal Health, Care and Well-Being

Dairy and Livestock Producers, Other Agricultural Species

Veterinarians and Other Agricultural Professionals

Government and Industry

Public /Consumers

Preharvest Food Safety and Quality
Public Health and Zoonotic Disease

Cross Cutting Program Areas: Required Engagement of all Relevant Program Teams

All program teams will address relevant high-priority, statewide issues that cut across disciplines: (Identified in College Strategic Planning Process and through stakeholder input)

  • Animal welfare and environments
  • Water quality and quantity
  • Food safety and quality
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Pest prediction and response
  • STEM education/positive youth development
  • Rural safety and health
  • Marcellus Shale
  • Bio-based and on farm energy production/use
  • Childhood obesity
  • Green infrastructure

Current Program Areas to be Discontinued

  • Family financial management
  • Emergency preparedness (Distributed responsibility to teams to respond with relevant expertise as needed)
  • Elderly care staff development
  • Grant writing
  • Tourism
  • Workforce training in prisons
  • Adult leadership

Current Program Areas to Transition to a Cost Recovery Model

  • Cooking for Crowds
  • Consumer horticulture (Master Gardeners — will maintain a Master Gardener coordinator at the state level, while regional Master Gardener coordinators will continue to be shifted to non-appropriated dollars, through increased development and endowment efforts.)