Winter 1987 // Volume 25 // Number 4 // Ideas at Work // 4IAW3

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It's a Reality


Sarah Henson
Extension Agriculture Agent
University of Idaho
Caribou County
Soda Springs, Idaho

In southeastern Idaho, range livestock production is a major industry. As with any area of production, problems and opportunities exist unique to the locality. In five counties in this area, Beef Program Development Committees pooled their ideas and began to look at how their needs could be addressed through University of Idaho Extension programs.

Committee Relationships

Both the Extension agents and committee members were well-acquainted with the process of discussing problems and opportunities for area cattlemen and Extension program needs. Committees formed in the early 1950s and remained viable in the 1980s. What makes these committees unusual is their composition.

Recognizing that complex problems require an integrated problem-solving approach, committees are composed of ranchers, practicing veterinarians, Idaho Cattle Association Directors, ag lenders, and allied industry representatives, as well as Extension agents and livestock specialists.

Multidisciplinary committee composition allows review of county and multicounty situations from a variety of perspectives and the opportunity for an integrated problem-solving approach.

Field Investigation Project

In 1984, Beef Program Development Committees met and prioritized four key concerns extending across the five-county area. They then looked to the land-grant university for ongoing research related to their needs and found two faculty members, one in animal science and one in veterinary medicine, who were conducting research related to the problems the committee members were seeing in the field.

When the researchers were contacted, they expressed interest in sharing their preliminary work with the committee members and were receptive to the committee's suggestion that their research include an on-ranch component, under ranch conditions and management. This formed the framework for the southeast Idaho Field Investigation Project.

Committee Teamwork

As the project progressed, a strata of committees evolved, with county, multicounty, and ranch committees. The experience in southeastern Idaho suggests that multidisciplinary committees, working as teams, can strengthen Extension programs and impact, and provide a viable and responsive means of program development, implementation, and documentation of impacts.