University of Nevada, Reno Extension Director Ivory Lyles is chairing a national committee zeroed in on supporting Extension programs nationally by building national working groups that focus on common issues, or program areas, such as workforce development or health.
The Extension Committee on Organizational Policy, commonly known as ECOP, is the elected national committee that represents the 57 state and territorial cooperative extension systems in policy decisions, and provides nationwide program and organizational leadership. Within ECOP, there is a 15-member Program Committee, of which Lyles is the chair this year. Lyles is reshaping the mission and the purpose of the committee in an effort to increase the impact of Extension programs nationally.
“Having national program groups and leaders can really enhance Extension programs across the nation,” Lyles said. “The Budget and Legislative Committee identified seven program areas for Extension, so now our Program Committee is taking the ball and running with it, putting the structure around those program areas to support the entire Extension system.”
The seven program areas for which working groups and leadership are being developed include:
- Workforce development
- 4-H Positive Youth Development
- Urban agriculture
- Broadband/Infrastructure (focusing on access and literacy)
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
Lyles said that Extension leaders, faculty and staff already communicate and collaborate with one another across state lines, but having a more organized way for those working on common issues to set goals; work together; and share information, programs and research can multiply the impacts of Extension work in communities across the country.
“Extension is a unique system in the U.S. that takes the research and knowledge of our universities and puts it to work to benefit people from all walks of life in both rural and urban communities,” he said. “Our Program Committee aims to make sure our Extension programs are working together as effectively as possible in order to maximize those benefits to our communities.”
In Nevada, Extension is part of the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, and Lyles also serves as associate dean for engagement for the College. He was active in ECOP even before coming to Nevada almost four years ago, having worked for the Extension system for the better part of four decades.
Lyles came to Nevada from Alcorn State University in Mississippi, where he was a professor in the Department of Agriculture and dean and director of Land-Grant Programs. Prior to that, he was director of Cooperative Extension Service and associate vice president of Agriculture at University of Arkansas – Little Rock. He has also held Cooperative Extension positions at the University of Tennessee, Tennessee State University, The Ohio State University and Mississippi State University.