his discussion focuses on the challenges and opportunities of a professional career path in the agricultural extension services.We’ll discuss four key drivers of change in farming and forestry careers, real-world challenges faced by young people, and opportunities for agricultural professionals.
Climate change, demographic shifts, and changing consumer preferences are transforming the food system. Now more than ever, agricultural extension programs are taking a key role in creating a sustainable and prosperous food system with natural capital preservation at its core. Agricultural extension programs apply scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices. The professionals in these programs play a key role in farmer education and outreach. The field has expanded and now includes communication, health, and business disciplines for the benefit or rural populations.
Dr. Hubbard received formal training in forest management (BS 1985) and forest economics (MS 1987) at the University of Florida where he studied the impact and value of information and technical assistance in the private landowner stumpage market in Northeast Florida. After working as staff economist at the University of Florida he was offered the position as a Florida state Extension forester with responsibilities in timber taxation, forest stewardship and urban forestry. In this capacity he developed products and programs for private landowners, professionals and urban audiences. He held this position from 1988 until 1993 when he accepted the position of Regional Extension Forester serving the thirteen southern 1862 Land Grant Extension Directors and the USDA Forest Service – Southern Region. This regional position offered Dr. Hubbard the opportunity to work collaboratively with hundreds of land grant administrators, state specialists, county directors and agents, and key partners at the federal, regional, state and local levels. This position also gave Dr. Hubbard an opportunity to gain experience in and earn a Phd in Adult Education and Program Evaluation from the University of Georgia’s Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy.
Since 1993, Dr. Hubbard has provided regional and national leadership to utilize the capacities of a regional network of Extension professionals to address a number of critical natural resource issues. Dr. Hubbard provided early leadership in the development of computerized and Internet-based Extension solutions for example. These included computer programs such as a forest finance software program (DISCO), a searchable database on innovative natural resource Extension programs (NREMBASE), and early development of Internet sites to house information and Extension products. Dr. Hubbard continues this interest and leads the development and effective use of new technologies today such as the development of mobile applications, e-Learning modules, and interactive online decision support systems.
Dr. Hubbard has been successful in garnering resources and building capacity in the Southern Region of the United States to address these issues. He has been a Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on over 40 million dollars in grants and contracts since 2000. These include serving as the Extension PI on two multi-state, multi-year USDA competitive grants on climate change and bioenergy. Through a staff that has grown from under 2 FTE’s in 1993 to over 12 FTE’s in 2015, he has developed a team that is both responsive to the needs of Extension, Forest Service, agencies and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and proactive in addressing emerging issues and opportunities. Dr. Hubbard encourages his staff to utilize a strategic approach to addressing issues. This includes scholarly work and scholarly engagement with proven and new technologies, applied research (such as audience needs assessments, social network analyses and program evaluation), and expertise in emerging issue identification and program delivery.
Dr. Hubbard has authored or co-authored over 100 refereed, popular or Extension publications in his career, he has been active in several professional societies including the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP) where he served as President and Executive Secretary, and the Society of American Foresters (SAF). He has been recognized for his work by several agencies and groups including the Secretary of Agriculture, the Chiefs of the USDA FS and NRCS, the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) and the Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF).
Dr. Hubbard resides in Gainesville, Florida with his wife and four boys and enjoys outdoor activities and volunteering with the Boy Scouts and church ministries.