Extension and Outreach finalist shares thoughts on land grant mission

Iowa State held the third public forum in its search for a new vice president for Extension and Outreach Thursday afternoon, hearing a presentation from Jeffrey Hyde.

Hyde comes from Texan A&M University, where he previously served as director of Extension and as a professor of agriculture and economics. Hyde also served as the director of Extension at Pennsylvania State University before his time at Texas A&M.

Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Daniel Robison, introduced Hyde with a quote from his application letter to help capture Hyde’s sense of self and purpose.

“Just to capture a little bit of Dr. Hyde’s sense of self and purpose, from his letter of application he wrote: ‘Since being a graduate student, I’ve become increasingly passionate about the land grant mission,’” Robison quoted from Hyde’s application. “‘There’s tremendous power in integrating the research, teaching and extension to farmers to impact individuals, families, businesses and communities.’”

Hyde said among the reasons the position at Iowa State is attractive to him is the way that Iowa State is strongly supported both financially and through partnerships within the state, as well as the significant role extension holds within the university.

“The role that Extension and Outreach plays in the university’s strategic plan, I think, is incredibly appealing to me,” Hyde said. “And it’s explicitly mentioned, I had a chance to talk to the provost, the President this morning, and they absolutely highlighted in no uncertain terms how important extension and outreach is at the university level.”

Hyde said that extension and outreach are core to the land grant mission. Hyde said land grant universities have a reciprocal relationship with their surrounding communities, in which they share research and information, while communities local organizations help to enrich the learning experience.

“To me, it’s the most unique distinguishing feature of land grant universities, lots of universities do research, lots of universities teach students undergraduate and graduate, and many of them have outreach programs, but not like Extension and Outreach,” Hyde said. “It’s the most distinguishing feature in my mind.”

With increasing changes in technology, demographics and economies, Hyde said organizations have opportunities to adapt quickly and take advantage of said changes.

Hyde also said that dealing with COVID-19 at Texas A&M provided a strong learning experience that pushed him to embrace digital and hybrid programs.

At the end of Hyde’s presentation, the forum opened up to questions from the in-person and virtual audiences. One member of the online audience asked how Hyde planned to build trust and engage with county extension councils and staff serving the counties.

“I think the first thing you do is, and thankfully the worlds open again, you can do it, is go out and shake hands and talk,” Hyde said. “We’ll understand where people are coming from, what they’re trying to accomplish and get to know them right, I think personal relationship building is the foundation of trust.”

Another question came from an audience member within the classroom, who asked how Hyde would use his experience to reach underserved and underrepresented communities.

“And so I think that first, getting connected is really really important, you can’t serve unless you’re connected,” Hyde said. “And then to build trust. So maybe that personal connection was built on trust.”

The next forum will take place at 3 p.m. Nov. 14 in 202 Carver Hall.