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Welcome to the REEC Newsletter 

Spring 2021
The University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 1973 through the enactment of LB149. This legislation followed more than ten years of discussion by state leaders and University officials in Nebraska who were concerned that agriculture was not being given proper financial support, administrative access and prominence within the University.

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources consists of the three divisions, the Agriculture Research Division, Nebraska Extension and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR). There are twelve academic Departments in Agriculture & Natural Resources, 3 departments in Education & Human Sciences, 8 research sites located across the state and 16 multi-disciplinary centers. Collectively the Institute has more than 1,600 full-time employees which include 330 tenure-track faculty and 180 Extension Educators.

Nebraska Extension and the Agriculture Research Division team up to support three Research, Extension and Education Centers across the state which oversee 43,000 acres of land across the state. Each center has multiple research sites that create a unique network of areas to conduct research and extension across the state. The change in annual precipitation from the eastern part of the state to the Panhandle ranges from over 30 inches per year to 15 inches per year; with elevation ranging from 900 feet in the east to over 5,000 feet in the west. The unique cropping systems and crops grown also changes from east to west and within each of the state five agroecozones. Having research and Extension specialists with staff located at various locations across the state is a key contributor to Nebraska’s ability to provide quality Extension and research programs. The purpose of the REEC’s is to support research and Extension programing conducted by local specialists and all IANR faculty.

One third of Nebraska’s population of 1.9 million people live in Lincoln and Omaha with half of the population living in Lancaster, Douglas and Sarpy Counties. Eighty-nine percent of Nebraska towns have a population less than 3,000 people. Fifty percent of counties are experiencing a declining population. Four of the least populated counties in the US are located in the Nebraska Sandhills, having a population of less than 600 residents.
Historically the state was divided into various Research and Extension Districts which administrated research and county Extension offices. Effective January 1, 2020 the district lines went away and to administer Extension programing, 11 Engagement Zones were developed. Each Engagement Zone Coordinator is responsible for the administration of the Extension educators and the county staff and operations in their zone. The Engagement Zone Coordinators report to the Dean of Extension. The three Research, Extension and Educations Centers administer the resources and facilities at their centers and connect to the educators across the state to support programing.

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources is fortunate to have various facilities across the state to conduct research and Extension programing. Those that are administered each REEC are listed below and are shown on the statewide map of IANR facilities.

The center is located within 30 miles of UNL’s East Campus and consists of 9,500 acres of crop land, pasture and livestock operations. The center also oversees the following:
West Central Research, Extension and Education Center, North Platte, NE
The center is located in a semi-arid environment in the Platte river valley and consists of 1,848 acres, which include 1200 acres of grazing pastures and 648 acres for small plot research. The center oversees the following:
Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center, Scottsbluff, NE
The center is located on a 156 acre site for small plot research. The center oversees the following:
State wide Research, Extension and Education Center Mission:
“Develop solutions that enhance the lives of Nebraskans through improved management of landscapes, production systems, and resources across our state.”

The Research, Extension and Education Centers support the mission and vision of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as the various academic units that comprise IANR. 

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Vision:
“To serve Nebraska by providing internationally recognized science and education to assure Nebraska’s competitiveness in a changing world.”
Strategic Plan 2020-2025:
Each REEC is unique to its own history and development since their inception. The Strategic Plan combines an in depth reflection of “looking forward” to set the direction and focus of a collaborative statewide effort. Each REEC captured input from their advisory boards as well as stakeholders and faculty to identify and prioritize needs across the state. Seven state wide “Strategic Directions” where developed during this process. You can locate the full document at REEC Statewide Strategic Directions.  We will discuss each of the Strategic Directions in our monthly newsletters. 

Strategic Directions with Summarized Goals:
1. Water and Nutrient management, impacting both water quality and quantity.
  • Recognize interconnection between surface and ground water.
  • Increase water and nutrient use effectiveness.
2. Innovative cropping systems to improve soil health, conservation, sustainability & profitability.
  • Develop repeated research across the five agroecozones of Nebraska.
  • Engage producers to avoid the development of pesticide resistant species.
  • Explore alternative crops and varietal development.
3. Developing resilient food animal production systems.
  • Develop systems for efficient and sustainable beef production.
  • Contribute to NIBS Mission understanding G x E x M x S. 
  • Integrate management technology to beef systems.
4. Precision agriculture for both crops and livestock.
  • Develop management technologies with improved data collection systems.
  • Develop information on precision management systems.
5. Developing programing for financial resiliency of Ag producers.
  • REEC's will collect data for the development of farm and ranch management decision tools. 
  • REEC's will support programs to improve the profitability and sustainability of farm and ranch systems.
6. Connecting the rural-urban interface through food, agriculture, health and science literacy.
  • REEC's will collaborate to develop science based programming for youth and adults.
  • REEC's will enhance their facilities to become living learning centers for agricultural literacy programming.
7. Workforce development for agricultural systems.
  • Create educational opportunities that contribute to workforce development.
  • Provide credentialing for program completion.
8. Develop undergraduate and graduate experiences.
  • Create educational opportunities for students to gain experience.
  • Develop learning spaces where students can engage in learning opportunities.
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