Extension agents are finding themselves engaged in problem-solving roles as public needs adjust to a climate where issues facing the agricultural and natural resource industry are more often contentious than benign. As connectors between the Land-grant university system and the public, Extension agents need to know how to effectively communicate about contentious issues with clientele. This study used an online survey design to determine Extension agents’ attitudes toward contentious issues, challenges that they face, and effective means of communication. The findings revealed Extension agents’ attitudes toward communicating about contentious issues were more positive than negative. Additionally, they found the availability of misinformation and the complexity of contentious issues to be most challenging when communicating with clientele. One-on-one in-person, workshops, phone calls, and group meetings were identified as the most effective methods of communicating about contentious issues. Additional training and familiarization with current contentious issues were recommended. Future research should examine the contentious issues Extension agents are discussing, methods being used to facilitate conversations, the effect of contentious issues on job satisfaction, and the factors hindering Extension agents as they address contentious issues.



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