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Dr. Shirley Baker Appointed New Associate Program Leader for Natural Resources

Dr. Shirley Baker, Associate Professor of Molluscan Biology & Aquaculture, was appointed the new Associate Program Leader for Natural Resources, effective June 1, 2021. Dr. Baker will assist Dr. Saqib Mukhtar, Associate Dean and Extension Program Leader for Ag and Natural Resources in leading statewide extension programs in natural resources including wildlife management and forestry. We chatted with Dr. Baker about her exciting new role and how she got her start with Extension.

What drew you to the Associate Program Leader for Natural Resources Extension position?
I didn’t go looking for this position – it came to me! I got a call from Dr. Saqib Mukhtar, Associate Dean for Extension, and Dr. Holly Ober, the former person in this position (she was leaving for a position at Oregon State University) , asking me if I would consider it. I took some time to think about it – I love my job and could happily continue doing what I do. But I’ve been considering moving into some type of administrative position, the timing is right in terms of career and family stage, and I am ready for a new professional challenge. I’m excited to learn more about UF-IFAS Extension, and the agencies, citizens, and natural resources of Florida!
What do you hope to do in the position?

I enjoy learning, accumulating information and ideas, and recognizing and cultivating the potential in others. In doing so, I hope to enable others to make connections. My goal is to build and foster relationships and programs across Extension, across IFAS units, and across the State.

How did you first get into Extension?

The other day I was trying to remember my first encounter with Extension. When I was about 10, my mom and a friend’s mom started a 4-H cooking club that we named “The Potholders”. I enjoyed the camaraderie of learning new skills alongside girls I might not have met otherwise. I also remember carefully packing up an insect I had found and sending it to an Extension office for identification (this was long before Google!). I got a note back from an Extension agent, describing what it was.

These early experiences fueled my passion for the land grant mission of developing knowledge and making that knowledge accessible for all. I believe that “Solutions for your Life” is possible because Extension consists of trusted educators immersed in their communities. The personal connection is invaluable in building a better life for all.
For more information about IFAS Extension, visit: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/