The new chief of the Iowa State University Extension is starting work this week by visiting offices around the state. Jack Payne is now the I-S-U Vice Provost for Extension and Outreach. Payne says he firmly believes Iowa has the nation’s best extension service because of the commitment to providing a host of information.
He says Iowa’s extension service is set apart from the others by going beyond the traditional programs and getting into economic development, trying to recognize young entrepreneurs and thinking regionally instead of county-versus-county.

Payne says one tool the extension is going to use to achieve its outreach goals is technology — using the Internet through a national effort called the E-extension. Payne says it’s not to take the place of individual specialists or webpages or even a state extension, but taking the best of the best everyone has to offer and when citizens of the country want to know anything, they think of the extension service as the source for that information. He says the concept will be technology-based, but he says there’s no substitute for face-to-face communication.

Payne succeeds Stanley Johnson, who retired in November. Faced with increasing budget cuts, Johnson made the choice to start charging for some extension programs, which Payne says will likely need to continue. He says they need to be “a lot more involved in traditional development that extension was never involved with before, and that is working with foundations and major donors and making them understand what we bring to the people of Iowa and to the youth of Iowa.”

Payne spoke Tuesday at the Armstrong Research Farm’s Extension Learning Center near the western Iowa town of Lewis. Payne comes to I-S-U from Utah State University, where he was vice president and dean of extension.