Extension Program Leader – Rural Prosperity Nebraska - Assoc/Full Rank

Extension Program Leader – Rural Prosperity Nebraska - Assoc/Full Rank


The prosperity of rural communities is a priority for Nebraska Extension, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) and the University of Nebraska. Coordinated multidisciplinary effort is needed to address this grand challenge.


IANR and Nebraska Extension invite nominations and applications for two positions designed to advance outcomes and impacts on community and economic vitality among rural communities. The Extension Program Leader, outlined in this announcement, and the Director will collaborate to provide intellectual and strategic leadership for Rural Prosperity Nebraska. We are seeking people who are collaborative, innovative, visionary, inclusive, and entrepreneurial to help us mobilize existing faculty expertise in conducting relevant high impact research and scholarship, extension programming, and other community engagement efforts to improve all facets of rural prosperity throughout Nebraska and the United States.


Recognizing that diversity within a context of inclusivity enhances creativity, innovation, impact, and a sense of belonging, IANR and Nebraska Extension are committed to creating research, Extension, and teaching and learning environments that are inclusive of all forms of human diversity. We actively encourage applications from and nominations of individuals from underrepresented groups including racial and ethnic minorities, women, sexual and gender minorities, persons living with disabilities, and veterans. 


The Extension Program Leader has a partial administrative appointment, which will be for five-year renewable terms, subject to satisfactory annual reviews and a satisfactory formal reappointment review.


Overview of the Position

The Extension Program Leader fosters an inclusive culture in which all contributions to Rural Prosperity Nebraska are appreciated and recognized, collaboration and innovation are encouraged, and the abilities of all are engaged to fully realize the potential of the team and each contributor. The incumbent exemplifies the responsible management of resources to maximize the effectiveness of those resources and supports others in the responsible management of resources. They seek for and responsibly deploy resources that will facilitate achievement of strategic goals. They ensure opportunities are open to all, programs and initiatives are inclusive of all constituencies, and efforts are made to engage diverse audiences, especially those that are traditionally underrepresented. In working together with the Director, they synthesize a vision for Rural Prosperity Nebraska with input from faculty, staff, and community leaders that encompass all activities and initiatives. They continuously examine the strategic framework for relevancy and refresh it as needed. 


The Extension Program Leader, a non-tenured position, will have a faculty appointment as an Extension Educator and will develop high impact Extension programming, leading to accomplishment of Rural Prosperity Nebraska goals and serving as a model of excellence in Extension programming. The Extension Program Leader will be accomplished in evidence-based community engagement and team building designed to increase prosperity in rural communities. This position will supervise county-based Rural Prosperity Nebraska educators; coordinate community partnership activities and programming efforts of county-based Extension Educators; coach faculty members; establish, maintain and manage relationships; build teams, collaborate, and coordinate community-engagement efforts; identify and nurture sources of funding and other resources that will allow faculty members to bring programming efforts to scale; and oversee relevant strategic priorities.


Together, the Extension Program Leader and the Director will form a strong and creative team providing vision and direction for this unique initiative. The specific responsibilities of the Extension Program Leader, as well as the Director position, are found at https://ianr.unl.edu/rural-prosperity-nebraska-position-searches.


Rural Prosperity Nebraska

Nebraska boasts the third largest agricultural economy in the United States, and one in four jobs in the Cornhusker State is tied to agriculture and natural resources. The success of the state is closely tied to agriculture. Conversely, the success of agriculture is closely tied to the vitality of the rural communities that farmers, ranchers, and the businesses that serve them call home.


In 2020, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources launched Rural Prosperity Nebraska, signaling a doubling down of UNL’s commitment to rural development and community prosperity. Community vitality is also embedded in the university’s systemwide five-year strategic vision, as articulated by the president of the University of Nebraska.  


Rural Prosperity Nebraska brings together Nebraska Extension professionals working hand-in-hand with communities across the state and with rural scholarship of faculty members from throughout the University of Nebraska system.   Rural Prosperity Nebraska also comprises the Rural Poll, now in its 26th year, which aggregates the voice of rural residents on important statewide issues each year; the Rural Fellows Program, which places college students in rural communities each summer to complete service-learning projects; as well as a host of other innovative programs.


Nebraska Extension

Nebraska Extension is a nationally respected educational leader working to help Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education. As the university’s front door across the state, Nebraska Extension accomplishes this role by bringing research-based programming across multiple subject areas to both urban and rural audiences. Its goal is to translate scientific discoveries for practical application, engage target audiences to co-create solutions to vexing problems, and change lives through opportunities for learning and engagement.


With over 325 Extension Specialists, Educators and Assistants, and a presence in every county, Nebraska Extension has tremendous impact on the success of our state – its youth, its families, its farms and ranches, its communities, and its economy. Nebraska Extension uses state-of-the-art technologies and engagement pedagogies to reach an increasingly diverse audience. Extension professionals across the state serve local producers, communities, businesses, and families. They work in interdisciplinary teams designed to take on statewide issues important to Nebraskans, such as integrated crop and livestock systems, irrigation efficiency, food access, and early childhood development.


Program Areas (https://extension.unl.edu/educational-programs/)

Extension programming is strategically focused in the following seven areas. Teams from across multiple disciplines contribute to programming in each of these areas to enhance impact.

•     Rural Prosperity Nebraska

•     The Learning Child

•     Community Environment

•     4-H Youth Development

•     Beef Systems

•     Water and Integrated Cropping Systems

•     Food, Nutrition and Health


Additional information about Nebraska Extension may be obtained from its website, https://extension.unl.edu/.


Required Qualifications:

•     A record of excellence in university-based community engagement, outreach, or professional-community partnerships.

•     Visionary leadership, including an ability to inspire and motivate.

•     Effectiveness in aligning resources to achieve vision.

•     Experience leading multidisciplinary teams in achieving strategic outcomes.

•     A record of leadership and outcomes that demonstrate an abiding commitment to practices that are inclusive of all forms of human diversity.

•     Exceptional skills in communication and interpersonal relations.

•     A master’s degree.


Preferred Qualification:

•     A record of excellence in Extension.

•     Experience in mentoring or coaching.

•     An ability to collaborate effectively with a broad range of constituencies.

•     A record of success in obtaining external funding.

•     Proven record of documenting program outcomes and impact.



The Search Advisory Committee will begin reviewing applications immediately and will continue to receive applications until the position is filled. To ensure full consideration, nominations and applications should be submitted before July 26, 2021.


Questions and nominations can be directed in confidence to:

Dr. Mark Balschweid, Search Advisory Committee Chair

Head, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication




Applicants must apply online at http://employment.unl.edu, requisition F_210076. Click “Apply to this Job,” complete the information form, and attach a) a letter of interest that describes your qualifications for the position, anticipated contributions, personal vision, and the value that you place on diversity and your anticipated contributions to creating inclusive environments in which every person and every interaction matters; b) a detailed curriculum vitae; and c) the names and contact information of 3-5 professional references. Only references of candidates who make the short list will be contacted.  All candidate information will be held in strict confidence until the final stage of the search, at which time the express permission of finalists will be obtained before contacting references and making their candidacy public. If interested in the Director, tenured position, please reference requisition F_210077.


For questions and assistance with submitting the application, contact Ms. Jodi Mackin, Faculty HR Specialist at jmackin1@unl.edu or by phone at (402) 469-0273.


UNL offers an attractive compensation and benefits package commensurate with the successful candidate’s background and experience.


The University of Nebraska is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment. UNL is dedicated to creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected and included.


As an EO/AA employer, qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation. See http://www.unl.edu/equity/notice-nondiscrimination.