expense of developing other skills. Increasingly, industry, government, and even academia seek graduates at all degree levels—including Ph.D.—who are broadly trained, have multidisciplinary expertise, are flexible, are oriented toward teamwork, and have excellent communication skills (National Research Council, 1995b). The limitations of research assistantships as the only means of preparing students for science and engineering careers is discussed by Good and Lane (1994), who argue that assistantships too often bind students to their faculty mentors for financial support and thus limit innovative learning experiences such as participating in collaborative research with private corporations (Good and Lane, 1994). The LGCA system, given its history of practical education and close ties to farm and agribusiness clientele, is well suited to provide an educational experience that develops modern work place skills and experiential breadth as well as excellent research and problem-solving skills and disciplinary depth.
An important and growing link between teaching and extension occurs through the growing need for lifelong educational opportunities. The need for lifelong learning has grown with the increase in life expectancy, the significant speed with which new knowledge is generated in society, and the rapid reconfiguration of the national and international economy. The scientific and technological cadre that serves the food and agricultural sector needs to be kept abreast of the new knowledge being developed and its application to problems in society. In addition, many people who missed educational opportunities early in their lives find career advancement limited without additional formal education. Although the committee was unable to devote time and attention to this issue, it does believe that formal programs of midcareer education are needed and that the needed level of these programs is likely to be more than can be provided through current extension services. This is an area that calls for attention and combined commitment from both extension and academic program administrators.
One aspect that has made the land grant system unique is the way it has linked agricultural research and off-campus extension education. Historically, university specialists and county extension agents have worked closely with farmers and other users of experiment station research, translating research findings for them and advising them about how to use research information. Sometimes the agents have interpreted and communicated back to researchers and teachers in experiment stations and university departments the problems and research needs of farmers, rural communities, and other client groups.
When it works, this two-way flow of insights and information can be the engine for a "cascade of knowledge" (see Chapter 4). It has also provided justification for formula-based research funding, since the research-extension linkage model benefits from researchers being unhindered by contractual grants and thus able to attend to the problems and issues identified by extension personnel.
Available evidence, however, suggests that claims of the research-extension linkage may be overstated. First, extension programs seem to respond to a different set of national, state, and local priorities than do experiment station-based research programs. This probably results from the extension programs' greater reliance on local and state funding support, which has encouraged a focus by extension on some local and state community needs that have not been emphasized by federally funded agricultural research. The end result is that a large part of the research base for extension programs in community, family, and youth leadership development, other social science issues, and nutrition, diet, and health (representing more than 50 percent of extension program effort and less than 20 percent of experiment station research effort) is likely to come from outside the experiment station and perhaps from outside the land grant university system. Another way to look at the situation is that a significant portion of extension's resources are unlikely to be providing input to the course and direction of experiment station-based science.