November 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter
By J. Scott Angle
Dr. Andra Johnson sees his new job as leading nearly 650 Extension agents and specialists at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and serving at least 140,000 stakeholders—that is, you.
He’s an aggie. Johnson pledges to keep a focus on production agriculture. The vision he presented for modernizing Extension includes an expansion of service to production agriculture.
Dr. Johnson grew up in rural Louisiana in a family that raised cattle, cotton, corn and wheat. His aunt has served for more than 30 years at USDA. He has previously worked at three land-grant universities and earned three academic degrees from land-grants.
Florida ag leaders supported his candidacy, including Kevin Morgan. Having the Farm Bureau’s assistant to the president serve on the search committee was crucial to vetting the candidates. Florida Farm Bureau leaders tap into a national network to get insights into how candidates have served farmers in other states. Kevin’s support gave me greater confidence that I was making a good decision.
He wants your agent to stay your agent. We have long had too much agent turnover. Dr. Johnson has a vision for removing the university-created drivers of attrition. He plans to beef up support so agents are not bogged down in administrative duties instead of the programming they’d rather be doing. He’ll advocate for higher salaries to retain high-performing agents. And he’ll work to improve the promotion process that ultimately gives an agent freedom to determine in concert with stakeholders how best to serve the local community as well as job security to build years-long relationships.
He’s a triple threat. In addition to Extension administration experience, he has taught extensively, and he has a record securing funding for research. He has also skillfully integrated the three major land-grant mission areas—using classes in agricultural Extension, for example, as a training ground for future agents.
One of my few directives to the dean will be to get out of the office and visit you. As of this writing, I’ve visited 48 of our 67 Extension offices. I want Johnson to get to them all before I do, and to visit with stakeholders like you while he’s at it. Please invite him to your farms as well.
Johnson has been emerging as a national leader who represents the future of Extension. At UF/IFAS, we’re in the business of getting you to the future first, ahead of your national and global competitors.
Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).