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December 4, 2008
By Jim Sloan
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Dean and Director Karen L. Hinton was honored recently for her work helping develop eXtension, an Internet-based collaborative environment where land-grant universities exchange research and help people resolve pressing problems in real time.
eXtension (pronounced E-extension), which can be accessed through the Cooperative Extension website, is unlike any other search engine or information-based website, Hinton said.
“It’s a space where university content providers can gather and produce new educational and information resources on wide-ranging topics,” Hinton said.
“Because it’s available to students, researchers, clinicians, professors, as well as the general public, at any time from any Internet connection, eXtension helps solve real-life problems in real time.”
The Web-based initiative was given the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award by Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C. In all, 26 groups and six individuals were honored at the 61st annual USDA Honor Awards Ceremony.
The eXtension award was presented to a group that included Dean Hinton, who worked with 24 other team members in developing the site. Hinton is currently vice-chair of the eXtension Governing Committee and will take over the role of chair in January 2009.
Hinton said the goal of eXtension is to be a trusted source of information for researchers and the general public alike and to minimize duplication and encourage teamwork between states. Team members attending the Washington, D.C., ceremony were honored and presented individual certificates at a luncheon hosted by the Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area and REE Undersecretary Gale Buchanan.
"At the heart of eXtension is a commitment to service, understanding people's educational needs and responding to those needs in a timely manner in technology formats of their choosing,” said Dan Cotton, eXtension director. “It's about working collaboratively in ‘communities’ designed to produce the best the Cooperative Extension System has to offer. Receiving a USDA Secretary’s Honor Award is really an affirmation that Cooperative Extension is once again an organization of change and willing to step up and do whatever is necessary to serve the needs of the people."
Hinton noted eXtension allows University of Nevada Cooperative Extension to go far beyond the reach of traditional publishing methods and reach a huge, worldwide audience. There are more than 3,000 county Cooperative Extension locations, and eXtension allows members to forge new sponsorship opportunities and more public and private partnerships, she said.
The eXtension award was presented to a group lead by Ron Brown, executive director of the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors, and Greg Crosby, national program leader for the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.
"It is quite an honor to see the acclaim given to the Extension System for initiating such a progressive and futuristic educational program. This growing program, which fits the information-seeking behavior of today's and tomorrow's customers, is placing the Extension system more clearly in a leadership position in the eyes of customers and colleagues alike," Brown said.