UACES Facebook C.E.S.P. 3-9: County Extension Councils
skip to main content


Program Management

C.E.S.P. 3-9: County Extension Councils

Date Revised: 1-12-2004
Supersedes: 4-23-2001

Summary: Establishes a structure for organizing County Extension Councils and the primary lay leader program advising unit.

Organizational Structure

The County Extension Council works with County Extension Agents to plan, implement, evaluate, interpret and support the local educational program. The effectiveness of a county's Extension program depends on involvement of local citizens in program development.

The basic units of the County Extension Council are:

• County Extension Council Members
• Program Committees

The County Extension Council gives leadership, direction, coordination, and support to the cooperative Extension program. The Council members serve as advocates for the cooperative Extension program and assist in making decisions to guide the direction of Extension programming in the county.

Council Structure

The structure for the County Extension Council is comprised of a core group of leaders who serve in a coordinating and leadership role. In addition to the Council, program committees are appointed to address specific program areas or issues.

The County Extension Council membership entails representation of various economic, geographic and social interests as well as relevant county organizations. Within this structure are officers, other key leaders, and chairpersons of all program committees. County Extension staff and county judge will be represented on the Council in an ex-officio capacity without voting privileges.

The recommended size of the County Extension Council will be 9 to 12 members, depending on the population and complexity of county concerns. The County Judge and county Extension faculty will work together to achieve a membership that is consistent with geographic area representation, minority representation and leadership representative of county needs. County representation and priorities may require a larger council membership than twelve members. In this situation, your District Director will work with you to determine a Council size consistent with your needs. Size will be an important factor as you work with this group throughout the year.

Selections and Rotation of Membership

One-third of the membership will be nominated by the county judge and the remaining two-thirds will be appointed by the county Extension faculty. Members will serve a three-year term with one-third of the membership rotating off each year. Appointment of new members will be determined by whomever made the appointment or nomination of the retiring member. Uncompleted terms should be filled in the same manner.

Council members will be appointed for a term of three years according to the process described in member selection. Terms will be staggered with one-third of the membership rotating off each year. Terms will begin on July 1 of the year appointed. A member can be reappointed for one term after being off the committee one year.

Elections and Appointments

The chair, vice chair and other officers deemed necessary will be elected annually by the council members. A county Extension faculty member will serve as secretary for the Council. The secretary will be responsible for all correspondence and records of the Council.

Program/Issue committee chairs and vice chairs will be appointed by the Council chairs. A chair and vice chair for each priority program selected by the Council will be appointed from the Council membership. If several priorities are selected, vice chairs may be appointed outside the Council chairs as needed. These will be used to address short-term activities or one-time events of special interest. The remaining member appointments will be made in collaboration with the appropriate Extension faculty member. Terms will be determined by program thrusts.

The membership of committees should reflect appropriate geographic, organizational and population diversity to insure active participation from all areas of interests. Reflection of population diversity should consider gender, age, racial-ethnic population segments, and socioeconomic levels. All appointments should meet the Affirmative Action guidelines.

The 4-H Youth Development Committee will serve as the program committee for the youth component of the Cooperative Extension Service program. The chair and vice-chair of this group will be appointed from the Council. The youth development committee will serve as the 4-H Expansion and Review committee. The current policies and procedures for this committee will still be in effect. One third of the membership of this group will be youth. In addition to Expansion and Review, this committee will have program development responsibilities.

Ad Hoc committees may be appointed for short term programs or one time events. These groups are subcommittees of a program committee and will be represented on the Council by the program committee chair.


This Council is responsible for an important part of the Cooperative Extension Service program and as a whole body, meets at least once per year. To be an effective member of the Council, attendance at meetings is important. It may be necessary to miss a meeting due to conflicts; however, regular attendance is encouraged. The Council should determine a policy that is acceptable for absenteeism.