"We need Extension today because it is among the most effective mechanisms for individual and social empowerment," Cruzado said while delivering the 2012 Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture in memory of "The Father of Extension," at the 125th annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' held Nov. 11-13 in Denver.
Cruzado was also on hand as the MSU Extension Tribal Housing and Environmental Health Program received the 2012 National Award for Diversity at the meeting. The award recognizes the program's "support of diversity, pluralism and innovation" in the work it does in three national initiatives: the Tribal Healthy Homes Assessment and Training Center at MSU; the Native AIR (Asthma Intervention and Reduction) program; and the National Tribal Pollution Prevention Working Group, or Tribal P2. The programs' team members include: Mike Vogel, Myla Kelly, Barbara Allen, Deborah Albin, Glenda Barnes and Mary Schaad.
The APLU is a research and advocacy organization of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state university systems with member campuses in all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The Seaman A. Knapp Lecture is one of three rotating lectures presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and APLU honoring three historic land-grant university figures: Seamen A. Knapp, Justin Smith Morrill, and William Henry Hatch. Nominations to deliver the lecture are submitted by the land-grant university system, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups and international organizations.
Cruzado said that "classifications, thick as walls," now separate those who believe that Extension should serve its traditional populations, or people living in rural areas, and those who believe that Extension should provide urban services, such as those that provide service in community development programs.
Calling such categorizations "a false distinction between service and education," Cruzado said the future of Extension will depend largely on how well it adapts to new realities.
She said rapid response to all people in time of need is one of Extension's strengths, such as when the organization helped Americans stricken by Hurricane Sandy with education and outreach, particularly in the area of food safety.
"Cooperative Extension on the East Coast will continue to have a significant impact on storm victims by informing them about the most effective science-based strategies to prevent and reduce food-borne illness," Cruzado said.
Such immediate and science-based personal response to crisis points to Cooperative Extension's value in America today, she said.
"This is our best answer to those who might be confused about Extension's mission," she said. "This is how we continue to anchor our credibility and enhance our base of support."
Cruzado praised those programs that are responsive to the changing face of our national demographics, and that some urban Extension projects rooted in agriculture -- such as those that help the Local Food movement --have already had a transformative effect.
Yet, Extension continues its need to be rooted in providing services to the rural population. While now only about one percent of the population is key to our country's food supply as it continues to feed the entire nation.
"This very important one percent includes hundreds of thousands of individuals who, today, use and need the products, programs and services provided by Extension throughout its history," Cruzado said.
In her remarks, Cruzado also recognized Mary Burrows, Extension plant pathology specialist and professor in the MSU College of Agriculture, who received the APLU Western Region Award for Excellence in Extension at the conference.
Cruzado became the 12th president of MSU on Jan. 4, 2010. In less than three years, she is credited with significantly reshaping the face and future of the state's first land-grant institution. She is recognized as an advocate for public universities, which were created through the Morrill Act 150 years ago, as well as a champion of the tripartite mission of research, teaching, and Extension, and the importance of higher education for the prosperity of our nation.
Cruzado earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico, which is a land-grant university, and master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Texas-Arlington. She served as interim president at New Mexico State University before accepting her current position at MSU.
Tom Calcagni (406) 994-4571, firstname.lastname@example.org