Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service names new director

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,033 views 

Bob Scott has been named director of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service, the education outreach portion of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s land grant mission. Scott starts his new position July 1, succeeding Rick Cartwright, who is retiring.

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to attract a candidate of Dr. Scott’s caliber to this important position,” said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System. “Dr. Scott brings a strong understanding of Arkansas agriculture and his long connection to the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service will be a great asset as he assumes this role.”

“We also want to acknowledge the many contributions that Dr. Rick Cartwright has made to the state, the Division of Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension Service throughout his long and productive career,” Cochran said. “He has been an exemplary extension director, scientist, educator, administrator and friend and colleague. I know that we all wish him and Lynette the very best as he moves into retirement. He will be greatly missed but not forgotten.”

As director and a senior vice president within the University of Arkansas System, Scott will face challenges. His statewide workforce will be in various stages of returning to the office while COVID-19’s progress takes unpredictable turns. Also, the extension service, as with all the entities within the University of Arkansas System, is replacing its fundamental financial and human resources processes, creating unity between the Division of Agriculture’s research and extension arms.

“I am coming into this position with the objective of seeing the Cooperative Extension Service grow and advance,” Scott said. “We need to keep pace with a rapidly changing society, advances in technology and lead by example in social issues which also divide some parts of our society today. I look forward to these challenges and see only opportunities for us as we go forward.”

Scott, who grew up on a family farm in Binger, Okla., is no stranger to the Cooperative Extension Service. He joined the Division of Agriculture as an extension weed scientist in 2002. During his tenure, he also maintained a partial appointment within the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the division’s land grant research arm.

In 2013, he picked up an administrative role as director of both the Newport and Lonoke Extension Centers, a position he held until March 2018.

In April 2018, Scott was appointed director of the Rice Research and Extension Center, where he oversaw rice breeding and facility modernization on the 1,000-acre facility near Stuttgart.

“[Scott’s] experiences at Stuttgart, Lonoke and Newport, as well as his years of service as a weed science specialist have prepared him well for his new duties,” Cochran said. “And he was even a 4-H’er growing up on the family row crop and cattle farm in Oklahoma. We expect great success for the extension service under Bob’s leadership.”

Scott holds a Ph.D. in weed science from Mississippi State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy and master’s degree in weed science from Oklahoma State University.

“I think it is timely that I had the opportunity to gain more experience on the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station side as we move into a new era with a unified Division of Agriculture,” he said. “I believe in this change and feel we will be a better organization because of it.”

Scott said he has faith in the resilience of the faculty and staff of the Cooperative Extension Service, a characteristic he’s seen as work continued through COVID-19.

“During this crisis I have observed the expected innovation and acceptance of challenge that I would expect from the Cooperative Extension Service,” he said. “I believe we should be leaders during this time, learn new ways of doing business and continue to be of value to our stakeholders I have faith that we will not only survive this challenge but emerge on the other end of it with new ways of doing business and fulfilling our mission.”