eXtension Announces Four New Climate/Extreme Weather Fellows

eXtension has selected four Cooperative Extension professionals to serve as Climate/Extreme Weather Fellows for 2020. Building on their existing work, the Fellows will lead teams of graduate and undergraduate students that will pull together resources across Extension related to Climate and Extreme Weather to create a landscape view of Extension programs and a system-wide repository. A request will go out shortly to the entire system for resources and information to add to the repository. 

These individuals include:

  • Dr. Sarah Klain, Andrew J. Senti Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Services, Environment & Society Department, Utah State University
  • M. Jennison Kipp Searcy, Resource Economist, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
  • Dr. Paul Lachapelle, Professor, Department of Political Science, Montana State University – Bozeman, Extension Community Development Specialist
  • Dr. Roslynn McCann, Associate Professor, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist, Utah State University

Cooperative Extension is positioned to be the leading national resource with the most experience with on-the-ground implementation of conservation-based programming. The eXtension Climate Coalition, a member director-led effort, created a Fellowship as a short-term project dedicated to the compilation of program data across the Cooperative Extension System (CES).  The fellows will identify programming that is currently being implemented that aligns with Project Drawdown, other frameworks, and generally accepted conservation practices. Using eXtension support, the Fellows will develop a repository for this information that can help the CES develop a narrative around the work being performed across the U.S. The repository will be dynamic, accessible, and easy for specialists, program leaders, agents and educators to update and add to. Information will include programs, success factors, and adoption rates. It will be used to help:


  • Identify gaps in conservation/climate programming
  • Identify areas of greatest impact (or identify trends)
  • Help us identify measurements of acceleration
  • Focus CES interests on identified climate/extreme weather actions (solutions)
  • Help CES tell our story around climate/extreme weather programs (we will have an opportunity to seek funding and partners based on our current and future capacity)
  • Help identify where we are accelerating our impact the most
  • Empower CES Educators to align with these programs and their strengths
  • Allow for some longitudinal analysis
  • Foster some alignment in CES programming across the country 

About the Fellows (Photos will be included)

Sarah Klain is the Andrew J. Senti Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Services in the Environment and Society department at Utah State University. She has a PhD in Resources, Environment and Sustainability from the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on the tangible and intangible ways in which people value ecosystems, particularly in the context of expanding renewable energy landscapes. Much of her past research focused on cultural ecosystem services, marine spatial planning and offshore wind farms. Currently, she is developing participatory research to integrate traditional ecological knowledge and western science in the context of climate-smart restoration in the Intermountain West. She teaches courses on environmental policy and ecological economics and serves as a handling editor for the journals People and Nature as well as Ecosystems and People. As an interdisciplinary sustainability scholar, her work contributes to the fields of ecological economics and conservation social science.

Jennison Kipp Searcy is an Ecological Economist and Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist with the University of Florida’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities (PREC) and Center for Land Use Efficiency (CLUE). In this position, she collaborates with multidisciplinary research teams and private- and public-sector partners throughout the state to facilitate the adoption of strategic, holistic, and integrated sustainability practices in Florida’s new master-planned community developments. She is also State Coordinator of the Sustainable FloridiansSM Program and a co-founder of Florida’s CIVIC (Community Voices, Informed Choices) Extension Program. Climate-related research and Extension programming have been unifying and enduring elements of Jennison’s professional career. She holds Master’s degrees in Agricultural & Environmental Economics and Environmental Pollution Control from Penn State University (where her research contributed to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Assessment of Climate Change Impacts) and served in Kenya as an Agroforestry Extension Volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps (where she saw and experienced first-hand some of Earth’s most priceless and rapidly disappearing equatorial glaciers).

Paul Lachapelle is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Montana State University-Bozeman and serves as the Extension Community Development Specialist.  His teaching and research spans many disciplines and practices including community climate change resiliency, diversity and  inclusion, social impact investing and social justice topics.  His publications include the edited book, “Addressing Climate Change at the Community Level” (Routledge 2019) as well as journal articles on energy impacts in communities, democratic practice and local governance, and community visioning and leadership.  He earned a Ph.D. (Forestry) at the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation with a focus on natural resource policy and governance and serves as Editor of the Community Development Society Current Issues Book Series and member of the Board of Directors (and past-President) of the International Association for Community Development.

Dr. Roslynn Brain McCann is a Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist in the Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. She uses conservation theory, communication techniques, and social marketing tools to foster environmental behaviors in the areas of land (conservation, reducing, reusing and recycling), air (quality and climate change), food (consuming locally with a focus on CSA’s and farmer’s markets), water (quality, quantity, water resilient landscaping), and energy (efficiency and renewable energy). Roslynn also teaches communicating sustainability, helps facilitate the National Extension Sustainability Summit, runs a national database of sustainability-focused Extension programs, and is the coordinator for Utah Farm-Chef-Fork, the USU Permaculture Initiative, and Sustainable You! kids’ camps.