Perceptions of the Montana land grant system held by legislators and faculty

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2004

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture

Abstract

A survey was conducted to determine the perceptions of the agricultural components of the Montana land grant system (College of Agriculture (COA)/Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) and Extension Service (ES)) held by Montana legislators and faculty working in the system. Surveys were mailed to 150 legislators (85 returned) and 198 faculty members (85 returned). Responses were analyzed using SPSS 12.0. Results found that legislators and faculty preferred an administrative structure with one leader for all three components of the agriculture land grant system. Overall, both populations agreed with the nine assumptions defined by the Montana land grant system leadership that served as the foundation for the strategic plans. There was agreement between the two groups with the stated goals of COA/AES and ES. A large number of "Don't Know" responses by legislators indicated a need for improved communication with them about the goals of the land grant system. Both populations identified high levels of success in offering quality scholarly activity, conducting high quality research, and developing the confidence, competence, and character of the state's youth. Significant differences in perceptions of success were found between the two groups for goals such as being accountable to the state's citizens, strengthening Montana's families and communities, and helping people understand stewardship. Priorities identified by the respondents for 2010 included funding for COA, crops and economics for AES, and communication and staffing for ES. Personal contacts and agricultural publications were the primary sources of information about agricultural issues for faculty, while legislators turned to daily newspapers and agricultural publications. During the legislative session, legislators look to agricultural lobbyists, other legislators, and constituents for information about agricultural issues. Results indicate a breakdown in communication between the land grant system and Montana legislators and, in some cases, faculty employees of the system that needs to be addressed to ensure the successful future of the Montana land grant system and Montana agriculture. Changes to the form and function of the land grant system and its relationship with the Legislature are recommended to address the needs of Montana agriculture and Montana's citizens

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