The Extension Road to Resilience: Insights from the North Central ANR Program Leaders Meeting

It was a gorgeous, late-spring day in Madison as I loaded up the car – sunny, with a high of 73; just me and the open road ahead. I was glad for the mild weather and average temperatures, after a week of severe storms and following Wisconsin’s warmest winter on record

I was heading to Ames, Iowa with the Climate Ready Midwest (CRM) project team to present at the North Central Region’s Extension Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR) Program Leaders meeting. This meeting brought together Extension program leaders in agriculture and natural resources across the 12-state north central region. The CRM team was invited to share project findings exploring climate programming in Extension and relevant regional and national partnerships and resources.  

These conversations are necessary because producers across the region are already experiencing the impacts of our changing climate. Extreme weather events impact aspects of production – like erosion, water management, and heat stress in animals – and the associated risks are projected to increase (Wilson et al., 2023). Extension plays an important role in these conversations as a trusted source of climate information for producers (Prokopy et al., 2015). As an organization, it’s important that we are prepared to answer questions producers have about building resilience in the face of current weather trends.

The CRM team is focused on enhancing Extension’s capacity to answer these questions. To do this, we are looking internally at how to empower Extension professionals to support climate-informed agricultural programming across the region. To better understand the opportunities, we have conducted interviews with Extension educators and specialists at 1862s and shared some preliminary reflections on those interviews in a previous blog post. We are also having similar conversations with colleagues at 1890s and will be exploring these topics with the 1994s. (Not sure what these dates mean? See bottom of this article!)

At the North Central Extension’s ANR Program Leaders meeting, we shared preliminary results of our efforts. Specifically, we discussed how Extension educators and specialists think about climate programming and prioritize that work. Important for the ANR leaders assembled for this meeting, we also highlighted how Extension professionals perceive leadership’s support of the work and what support they would like to see. Keep an eye out for a publication with these results.

We also reflected on resources that support and frame climate programming, including:

Sharing our work and these resources was important to us as a team. Many of us are passionate about helping producers navigate climatic changes, and are committed to incorporating this into our own Extension programming. As we returned to the road for the drive home, team members expressed renewed desire to bolster our engagement in climate programming efforts and to continue these conversations with Extension’s leadership.

We realize many of our Extension readers may be involved in their own climate programming projects! If  that’s you, we hope to see you and hear more about work around the region at the upcoming North Central Agriculture and Climate Conference, taking place in Peoria, Illinois July 31 – August 1, 2024. 

How can I stay updated?

We will post regular blog posts on this website to share progress and project deliverables, just like this post. Sign up to be notified about future blog posts! 

If you are interested in learning more or collaborating on any of this work, please reach out to Alli Parrish, project manager, at or Aaron Wilson, project director, at


Prokopy, L. S., Carlton, J. S., Arbuckle, J. G., Haigh, T., Lemos, M. C., Mase, A. S., Babin, N., Dunn, M., Andresen, J., Angel, J., Hart, C., & Power, R. (2015). Extension′s role in disseminating information about climate change to agricultural stakeholders in the United States. Climatic Change, 130(2), 261–272. 

Wilson, A.B., J.M. Baker, E.A. Ainsworth, J. Andresen, J.A. Austin, J.S. Dukes, E. Gibbons, B.O. Hoppe, O.E. LeDee, J. Noel, H.A. Roop, S.A. Smith, D.P. Todey, R. Wolf, and J.D. Wood, 2023: Ch. 24. Midwest. In: Fifth National Climate Assessment. Crimmins, A.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock, Eds. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA.

What are 1862, 1890, and 1994s?

  • 1862s are land-grant institutions established by the Morrill Act of 1862.
  • 1890s are land-grant institutions established by the Morrill Act of 1890
  • 1994s are land grants established through the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994.
  • More information about the land grant system is available here.