Initiatives and partnerships are important to us in expanding our resources to serve the critical needs of our state.
In this column I would like to tell you about two legislative initiativesone funded by the 1999 legislature and one the university plans to propose to the next session. I also would like to tell you about the role that partnerships with other agencies and organizations play in our programming efforts.
You may recall that last year the state legislature approved WSUs $7.5 million Safe Food Initiative. The initiative provided funding to fill 40 faculty and staff positions in three colleges, including the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. The positions were deemed critical to enable the university to address issues of safer food products for domestic and global markets, protection of food crops from devastating pests through new crop protection techniques and help farmers and ranchers produce food safely and economically while conserving natural resources.
I am pleased to report that the 13 of the 17 new faculty positions the College of Agriculture and Home Economics received have been filled. Fifteen of the 17 have an Cooperative Extension component.
I am very excited about the kinds of issues our new faculty will be tackling. For example, our new food and farming specialist in Puyallup will focus on maintaining the viability of farms in western Washington and address such issues as farmland preservation near urban areas, organic food production, environmental regulations and marketing.
A Cooperative Extension rangeland management specialist and two area Cooperative Extension faculty will lead a statewide educational effort in rangeland ecology, range management and watershed management. Rangeland accounts for a fourth of the surface area of the state.
Two agricultural engineers will work on developing new animal waste systems and strategies for nutrient recycling and water quality protection. This is critical for our dairy industry. These are just a few examples.
The second initiative deals with building better adults.
Next January, in collaboration with WSUs College of Education, we will ask the state legislature to invest $3.8 million in Cooperative Extensions 4-H youth development program. The new funding will be used to strengthen our efforts to reach an additional 70,000 urban youth.
Many studies identify factors associated with risk-taking behaviors that threaten successful transition of teenagers into productive adults. Few attempts to reduce risk behaviors have been successful.
A recent study concluded that youth participation in risky behaviors declined when they had a strong, positive relationship with a caring adult mentor. 4-H has nearly 100 years experience in successful youth development using this approach.
4-H emphasizes life skills, including problem-solving, conflict-resolution and leadership. The mentors in Washington State are more than 8,600 adult 4-H volunteers who each year contribute more than 1.8 million hours of service.
By strengthening WSUs capacity to be a community partner in youth development, WSU will be able to seize emerging opportunities, initiatives and partnerships that our current funding does not support. You will find more details on this initiative inside this publication.
Finally, a word about partnerships. Partnerships with other organizations and government organizations add to our intellectual capacity and human resources. They often add to our financial resources as well.
This fall we plan to meet with state department officials to look at how we can coordinate our existing activities in the area of food safety education as well as determine how a new partnership might work. As part of that, we want to develop a strategic plan for partnership activities and look at potential resource development we might approach jointly.
Cooperative Extension faculty reported 466 partnerships of all kinds in 1999. A total of 278 were described as project partnersorganizations and people the faculty worked with to deliver non-formal educational programs. Ninety-five partners also provided more $9.3 million in funding for educational efforts involving our faculty.
Our educational efforts are stronger because of the network of partners we work with. We are grateful for the support they provide.