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

Front view of the Penn State College of Agriculture Administration Building
Penn State
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.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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