Sustainability, awareness, and commitment : examining Natural Resource Extension programs in the United States Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5138jj559

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  • Today's landowners, citizens, and natural resource professionals are increasingly concerned about issues surrounding resource sustainability. Charged with addressing societal concerns through education, Cooperative Extension is uniquely capable of meeting educational needs related to natural resource sustainability. In this research, we examined the program inputs, activities, and participation in Natural Resource Extension Education programs to examine awareness and commitment to sustainability. The data come from multiple sources and collection methods and include document analysis, interviews with key federal Extension administrators, a national survey of state Natural Resource Extension Administrators, detailed comparative case studies of Natural Resource Extension programs in Alabama and Oregon, and a budget and planning document analysis. While we found unified philosophical support for natural resources sustainability education at the county, state, and national levels, this support was not reflected in the actual commitment as measured by funding, staffing, programming, and program participation. The philosophical commitment to sustainability is but one of a constellation of factors that work together to influence the actual commitment to sustainability in Extension. Without the accompanying financial commitment and leadership, philosophical commitment in terms of attitudes will do little to help achieve sustainability in Natural Resource Extension. Major challenges to addressing sustainability through education were identified as 1) the historical orientation of Extension toward agriculture, 2) the lack of staffing, and 3) the lack of funding. The analysis presented here can aid other educators as they explore sustainability through educational programming.
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