Extension Climate/Extreme Weather Programming

November 17, 2020

Executive Summary The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends rapid implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation programs to reduce the chance of increasingly catastrophic climate change impacts (IPCC, 2018). One outlet for this type of programming is through the United States Cooperative Extension System, which translates scientific information into applied research and educational outreach. Our team conducted a national inventory of Extension programs to better understand the extent to which climate and extreme weather programs are currently being delivered and

Roslynn McCann, Utah State University

to characterize the nature of these programs. Our database includes a range of attributes for each of the programs identified. We also identify if programs include climate mitigation efforts, specifically as categorized according to Project Drawdown’s climate solutions. In-depth interviews with Extension professionals who lead these efforts helped us identify successes, limitations and opportunities associated with these programs. As of November, 2020, we identified 43 Extension programs across 30 states that focus on climate and extreme weather. The majority have primarily educational objectives. Approximately ⅓ of these programs include material on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and supporting carbon sinks. The database highlights programs that have reached diverse audiences in strategic and innovative ways. It also reveals gaps, including the few climate and extreme weather programs that engage youth and/or Native American tribes. Our qualitative research unveiled six major thematic areas, providing insights ranging from leadership styles of those delivering climate and extreme weather programming to institutional challenges faced. The interview results, combined with our database findings, resulted in 21 Conclusions and Recommendations, summarized as: Successes 1. Openness of some Extension professionals and citizens to proactively engage and learn on topics of climate change 2. Some professionals report feeling supported with resources, professional development opportunities and rewards and encouragement from their administrative cohorts 3. Locally-based approaches with citizen buy-in and applied results 4. Diverse and innovative partnerships working together to address common issues


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