UMD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Launches New Master of Extension Education Degree: New Course Available this Fall with Full Program Coming Spring ‘22

Multi-disciplinary program builds on UMD’s celebrated land-grant tradition as graduates prepare to help improve quality of life for state residents and beyond

Extension faculty engage with the local community in Baltimore City

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

September 3, 2021 Graham Binder

College Park, Md -- In order to further effectuate the University of Maryland’s (UMD) land-grant mission by enhancing quality of life for state residents through informal education, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR), which administers UMD’s Extension (UME) program, has launched a Master of Extension Education program, with classes and curriculum geared towards Extension career seekers and existing Extension professionals. Extension education across Maryland is one of the hallmarks of UMD, with an estimated reach of over 420,000 Marylanders in 2019. UME faculty use their skills to detect and solve societal challenges and problems by critically researching solutions and developing formal action plans for individuals and communities. Graduates from this new program will become experts in Maryland agricultural literacy, with options for dynamic careers in secondary and post-secondary education, non-profits, government, and enterprise leadership.

The Master’s program will encompass four core classes, two of which will be taught each semester. Rounding out the degree will be pre-existing classes taught in various departments at UMD or through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. This fall, individuals can enroll in AGST640, Critically Examine Maryland Agriculture, Agricultural Industry and Agricultural Literacy, as non-degree special students and transfer the course into the formal program when applications officially open for the spring semester.  

“AGST640 is an advanced research-focused course examining the mission and history of the land-grant system, as well as appraising the current work conducted through UME to extend research to its citizens,” said Melissa Leiden Welsh, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture (PSLA), and director of the Agricultural & Extension Education program. “Often referred to as America in miniature, Maryland boasts diverse people, agricultural practices, cultures, and ecosystems which students will examine to perceive the decision making processes within and across ecological systems.”

Welsh explains further, “My intention is to not silo this to agriculture, as the program is intended to stretch into 4-H, youth development, the business and marketing side of agriculture, and more.” 

Welsh already has some enthusiastic and engaged students involved in the program this fall.

“I graduated from Berry College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science in 2019, but I wasn’t prepared at that time to start my Master’s Degree. I didn’t want to spend too much time and money starting a degree without knowing that it was the right choice for my future,” said Gracie Siegrist, a newly enrolled student in the program. “What I love about the Master of Extension Education program at UMD is that there are only 4 core classes plus 12 to 18 elective credits. This gives me a solid foundation but allows plenty of opportunity to explore what’s really best for my career choice, which is to be an Extension agent with a focus on agro-ecology. I’m very excited to start this journey!”

Students may enroll in AGST640 today by accessing the registration link in Testudo. A more formal announcement with full program availability and links to register will be coming this spring semester.