Extension Director: Bright Future for Extension Service

New director says Extension will adapt and continue to lead.

Published on: Dec 6, 2013

Today's Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service is not your great, great grandfather's Extension Service. It's not even your father's Extension Service, or your mother's. But it's still vital to helping lead Indiana's economy forward.

That's what Jason Henderson told farmers and other supporters gathered for the Morgan County Extension annual meeting and banquet recently in Martinsville. Henderson left a position as vice-president with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City to become the new Director of Extension at Purdue in May of 2013. He says he came because he is excited and enthused about what Extension can be.

Extension has been celebrating 100 years of service, having originated in 1913.

Out amongst the people: Purdue Extension Director Jason Henderson (left) visits with Martinsville farmer, Jim Lankford.
Out amongst the people: Purdue Extension Director Jason Henderson (left) visits with Martinsville farmer, Jim Lankford.

"We're building off our own foundation in Extension," he says. "We don't do the same programs we did when Extension started 100 years ago. What we do is different and going to be different yet in the future.

"People don't get information even the way they did 10 years ago. We have to reshape our programs and methods of delivery in different ways to meet the needs of today."

While Extension has changed and will change more, adapting to needs of the people of Indiana, one thing will not change, Henderson says. Extension will remain a program whose strength is boots on the ground in local communities, bringing the results of research and helping people apply it to their lives in local communities, and taking feedback from local people to the university so specialists can work on real-life problems.

"Social media doesn't replace the need for relationships and face time in communities," Henderson emphasizes. Sometimes the local touch is the best way to deliver information. The power and strength of Extension are local faces in the community that bring the university to the community."