Beginning July 1, Decatur and Norton counties in northwest Kansas will form the K-State Research and Extension Twin Creeks Extension District.
The move is the latest in a trend begun several years ago to help county Extension agents be more specialized in particular subject areas, rather than serve as the "generalists" they often are when devoted to one county only, said Chris Onstad, director of the Northwest Area K-State Research and Extension office.
For example, rather than having a county agriculture and natural resources agent who would be responsible for educational programs on livestock and agronomy, under the district model, there might be one agent responsible only for agronomy and another who focuses on livestock.
In the case of the new Twin Creeks District, the change means that Decatur and Norton counties will have two fulltime agents splitting similar responsibilities. The district will also have a family and consumer sciences specialist 40 percent of the week, Onstad said.
Extension offices will continue to serve clientele in both counties, he said. The Decatur County office is located at 120 E. Hall St. in Oberlin, and the Norton County office is at 100 S. Norton St. in Norton.
The two agriculture and natural resources agents are Keith Van Skike and Byron Hale. Family and consumer sciences specialist Tranda Watts, who currently covers a five-county area including Norton and Decatur counties, will continue to deliver programming in those counties.
The Twin Creeks Extension District was approved several months ago by the Kansas Attorney General´s office. It will be the ninth Extension district formed in Kansas. Other districts include: Meadowlark (Nemaha, Jackson, and Jefferson counties); River Valley (Clay, Cloud, Republic and Washington counties); Phillips-Rooks (Phillips and Rooks counties); Sunflower (Sherman and Wallace); Post Rock (Jewell, Osborn, Mitchell and Lincoln); Walnut Creek (Lane, Ness and Rush); and Central Kansas (Saline and Ottawa).