Integrating research, education and extension at NIFA
One of the founding pillars of NIFA is to bring together research, education, and extension in a coordinated manner on high-priority national, multistate, or regional agricultural issues. This principle was reinforced by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (AREERA), which stipulates that, to the maximum extent practicable, NIFA shall ensure that federally supported and conducted agricultural research, extension, and education activities are accomplished in a manner that integrates these functions in order to better link research to technology transfer and information dissemination activities. This law also modified the formula-funded Hatch research and Smith-Lever extension programs to require integration of research and extension for a portion of funded activities. In addition, AREERA's sections 401 and 406 authorized competitive grant programs to support integrated research, education and extension to address critical agricultural problems.
NIFA places high value on integration in program design and implementation in order to address the many and complex problems facing U.S. agriculture. Research, education, and extension integration may be done at the project level or more generally at the program level. A project or program is optimally integrated if the components complement one another and are truly necessary for its ultimate success Research is expected to address knowledge gaps that are critical to the development of practices and programs to address a problem. Extension activities will lead to measurable, documented changes in learning, actions, or conditions in an identified audience or stakeholder group. Education initiatives will strengthen institutional capacities and result in curricula and related products that provide sustained impact. Integration of research, education, and extension is regularly assessed as part of NIFA's portfolio review process.
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