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Abstract

Prior to a radical reorganization in 2003, Extension agents/educators in Minnesota engaged in their role as generalists with 'specialist' titles. Their accountability was to the county and not necessarily to any area of focus or specialty. The reorganization of Extension, due to a massive state budget deficit, oriented agents to regional and statewide responsibilities in an area of expertise within a capacity area. Features of the reorganization also included: shifts in the funding arrangements with counties, shifts in supervision to campus specialists in the area of expertise, and shifts in the promotion process to encourage scholarship. Evaluating this change in regards to 'field staff specialization' (through surveying 102 Extension agents) reveals benefits in the areas of recruitment; incentives to invest in human capital; closer working relationships with campus faculty; applied research and scholarship by field staff; program quality, development, and delivery; and credibility with the target audience. Disadvantages include: lack of cross-capacity work; more distant relationships with the target audience; and commuting time and travel.

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