The evolving role of Virginia Cooperative Extension

May 11, 2021

Virginia State University’s M. Ray McKinnie shares his thoughts on the goals of the 1890 land-grant university extension system, the impact of COVID-19 on the work of Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the perspective of African-American farmers.

By Erica Corder and Ben Grove

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) helps lead the engagement mission of Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, the commonwealth’s land-grant universities.

Building local relationships and collaborative partnerships, VCE helps people put scientific knowledge to work through learning experiences that improve economic, environmental, and social well-being. The organization extends the learning and discoveries made at the institutions beyond the campus, and into the hands of people who can use it.

VCE connects faculty and staff from both universities with communities across the commonwealth, representing a shared commitment in the form of co-investment by federal, state, and local partners. Virginia State University and Virginia Tech collaborate and offer access to complementary expertise and research programs, utilizing a network of faculty and staff based on campus, off campus, and in 108 local offices in communities throughout Virginia.

Throughout the pandemic, VCE was challenged to find innovative and safe ways to deliver programs to its various smallholder and mid-size farmers, emblematic of the organization’s continued commitment to the Commonwealth and its support of diverse farming enterprises.

In this extended interview, hear directly from M. Ray McKinnie, 1890 Extension Administrator and Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University, on the goals of the 1890 land-grant university extension system, the impacts of COVID-19 on the work of VCE, and on the perspective of African-American farmers.


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