The University of Arkansas Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will have a new director when the New Year begins.
John Anderson will assume his new role as senior associate vice president-extension for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture on Jan. 2, said Deacue Fields, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System.
As director, Anderson will oversee the extension service land-grant outreach mission across all 75 counties. He will replace Bob Scott who has served in the role since 2020. Scott is slated to return to a faculty role.
“With his broad experience, outstanding record of innovation and achievements and just plain enthusiasm for the outreach mission, John is set to strengthen the work the Cooperative Extension Service is doing to improve lives in Arkansas,” said Fields. “John’s background in agriculture, economics and policy will be of great use as leader of the extension service.”
Anderson, a Timbo native, has been head of the agricultural economics and agribusiness department since January 2020, with appointments in both the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the Division of Agriculture. He is also head of the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence. Before that, he worked for the American Farm Bureau in Washington and is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve.
For more than 20 years, Anderson has worked as an agricultural economist in both academic and industry positions. His work has involved describing and assessing the farm- and agricultural sector-level impacts of policy, regulatory and market developments across a wide variety of agricultural commodities and markets. Anderson has served as a faculty member, with primary appointments in extension, at the University of Kentucky and Mississippi State University.
Anderson has a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from College of the Ozarks, a master’s degree in agriculture from Arkansas State University, and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University. He also earned a master’s degree in Christian leadership from the Dallas Theological Seminary in 2020.
Earlier this year, Anderson was elected to become the next president of the Southern Agricultural Economics Association, a role in which he will continue.
Raised on a family farm with beef cattle, broilers and a custom hay harvest operation in Stone County, Anderson grew up with extension.
“I remember being a little kid and us having a field day on our farm with extension,” he said. “We were early adopters of bermudagrass varieties, and we had some variety trials that the county agent ran on our farm.”
His family “had a fertilizer business and we were constantly running soil tests to the county office,” Anderson said. “My first exposure to extension was on the agriculture side.”
“Extension is as important as it’s ever been,” he said. “If you look at what’s going on in our rural communities right now, if you look at what’s going on in the world, there’s a desperate need for unbiased, reliable information to help people make decisions across all aspects of their lives. That’s what extension does.”
“I want to thank Bob Scott for his years of service as director of the Cooperative Extension Service,” Fields said. “Our outreach efforts are better for the work he’s done, and I know his accomplishments will have a lasting effect in the state of Arkansas.”