Three individuals instrumental in the creation and development of eXtension received champion awards at the organization’s first national conference.
Colien Hefferan, former administrator of USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES); Ronald A. Brown, executive director for the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED); and Dan Cotton, eXtension director, received eXtension’s highest honor, the champion award.
Hefferan provided financial and administrative support as eXtension moved from concept to reality beginning in 2003. Her support establishing regional listening sessions, bringing together experts in a digital access resource team, and developing a business case and strategic roadmap were critical in building the foundation for eXtension. Her support integrated national program leadership into communities of practice and helped to develop and fund the new technologies for agricultural extension federal budget line.
Brown was instrumental in organizing the first meetings of individuals and teams for eXtension’s beginnings. He served as a vocal and active member of the eXtension Directors’ Council, meeting weekly with eXtension staff and helping pilot the initiative through the Cooperative Extension System and federal government. He has served as a model for Extension directors and administrators nationwide who seek his counsel on eXtension.
Cotton, eXtension’s first director, joined eXtension in 2004 and developed a culture of openness, honesty, innovation and passion. He has built a dedicated virtual staff, engaged thousands of Cooperative Extension workers and presented eXtension from the folksy local Rotary Club to the high echelons of university presidents and the U.S. Congress. eXtension has grown from eight pioneer communities of practice to nearly 50 groups of specialty experts. Cotton worked to build a handful of Cooperative Extension employees as ID holders to nearly 12,000 and seen the Web site grow from hundreds of page views to millions.
Hefferan, Brown, and Cotton were honored at eXtension’s first national conference Oct. 20-23 in St. Louis.