Virginia State University (VSU) announces the appointment of Dr. Janine Parker Woods as its new associate administrator for Virginia Cooperative Extension programming, effective Oct. 12, 2020.
Woods previously served as interim program leader for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Unit with Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T SU), and developed and led regional, statewide small farm production workshops. She also served as co-chair for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Local Foods Program Team’s Economic Impacts Work Group; president elect for the North Carolina Association of Extension Specialists; and president for the Joint Council of Extension Professionals.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Woods join our team. Her proven leadership skills and thorough knowledge of Extension programs both nationally and internationally make her an asset to Cooperative Extension and to the College of Agriculture,” said Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, VSU College of Agriculture Dean/1890 Extension administrator.
As associate administrator of programming, Woods will provide oversight to Extension specialists at VSU; help specialists develop their plan of work; serve as a liaison between Cooperative Extension at VSU and Virginia Tech (VT) and create opportunities for collaborations; assist in developing strategies and processes for Extension; and improve operational effectiveness and efficiencies.
“As a millennial, Dr. Woods will bring fresh ideas to attract younger audiences to agricultural careers and will also help enhance the collaboration between Extension specialists and agents and ensure our programs are aligned with Cooperative Extension’s mission,” McKinnie added. “We welcome Dr. Woods to VSU and look forward to her making significant contributions.”
Woods earned a doctorate in agriculture and communications from the University of Florida. She earned both a master’s degree in agriculture economics and a bachelor’s degree in business management and economics from NC A&T. Woods also served in the Peace Corps for a little over two years, and worked in Guatemala as a sustainable agriculture marketing volunteer, where she assisted coffee growers in improving their production, operations and market accesses.
“I’m excited to have an opportunity to serve Virginia State University and Virginians and to grow as an Extension leader to help the College of Agriculture advance its mission,” Woods said.
Woods wants to engage younger audiences to consider careers in agriculture. “There are many diverse career opportunities in the field for women and minorities, but often people only associate agriculture with farming,” she said. Woods hopes to shed more light on urban agriculture, alternative agriculture systems and building stronger local food systems. “One thing that COVID-19 has shown us is a need for strong local food systems,” Woods added. She also wants to make sure that Cooperative Extension is more recognizable as a resource for Virginians. Agriculture impacts almost every aspect of our lives, and too often she hears the phrase that “Cooperative Extension is a well-kept secret.” She wants to change that mindset by helping to develop and promote programs that make Cooperative Extension a household word in rural and urban communities.