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Penn State Extension leaving 20% of positions unfilled as part of efforts to balance budget

The front doors of a brick office building.
Penn State University
The entry to the College of Agriculture Administration Building on Penn State's University Park Campus.

Penn State Extension offers expertise across the state in fields like gardening, forestry and stormwater management, but budget shortfalls mean about one in five Extension Educator positions is currently empty.

Penn State Extension is part of the College of Agricultural Sciences, and it includes about 200 educator positions. Those educators are largely based in counties across the state.

According to the college, about 40 of those educator jobs are vacant. And the college has put a pause on filling those positions as it looks to balance Extension’s budget.

College of Ag spokesman Chuck Gill said a "hiring pause" began in fall 2023.

"Inflation and increased costs, and funding levels that have not kept pace with inflation, are contributing factors," Gill said.

The openings are across the state. Positions fully funded by grants or counties are not affected.

The openings come as Penn State has been grappling with budget shortfalls. The university’s overall funding from the state remained flat this year. And state funding specifically for Penn State Agriculture Research and Extension was also flat this year.

Gill said if that funding stays flat it could impact Extension’s ability to meet the needs of Pennsylvania agriculture and other areas.

Copyright 2024 WPSU. To see more, visit WPSU.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.