New Agriculture and Natural Resources Senior Program leader named for SDSU Extension

South Dakota State University Extension
Alexander "Sandy" Smart

Brookings, S.D. - South Dakota State University Extension has named Alexander "Sandy" Smart as the new Agriculture and Natural Resources Senior Program Leader. A veteran with SDSU's Department of Animal and Range Sciences and the Department of Natural Resource Management, Smart brings broad experience in research, education, extension and outreach.

"I am delighted to have Sandy join SDSU Extension and the Agriculture and Natural Resources team. Sandy brings 20 years of experience and his passion for agriculture to this role, which will serve him well as he provides leadership to our extension professionals and the educational programs they provide," says Karla Trautman, SDSU Extension Director. "Sandy is committed to building collaborative relationships and documenting the impact of our outreach efforts. SDSU Extension will benefit greatly from his professional experiences, and I look forward to the impact he will have."

Smart, who most recently served as the assistant department head and professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management, has an extensive background in rangeland ecology, grazing management, grassland fire, forage seedling and forage quality testing. Prior to that, he served as the South Dakota Coordinator of the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, while also maintaining an extension appointment.

His extension and outreach activities include being a project leader for the Renewable Resources Extension Act, coordinating for the South Dakota Grassland Coalition and assisting with the formation of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition and teaching grassland and range management to students across the state.

Smart received his bachelor's degree in soil science in 1989 and his master's in agronomy in 1992, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to get his doctorate in agronomy and range management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before joining SDSU's Department of Animal and Range Sciences in August 2001. 

Smart says his background (20 years of teaching and research in range management at SDSU) and his specific extension roles (10-plus years with the S.D. Grassland Coalition and three years as S.D. SARE Coordinator) have prepared him for taking the next step into 100% extension in an administrative capacity.

"I have a passion for agriculture, the people who work the land and the beautiful landscape itself," Smart says. "I hope to lead well, building effective teams to provide timely outreach to our stakeholders. Specifically, I see opportunities to strengthen crop-livestock integration, climate-smart readiness and integrating new technologies to help producers be more efficient."