Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Jeff Ripley, Associate Director- County Operations, Texas Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Extension programs have remained relevant because of the utilization of a systematic approach to identify issues, prioritize these issues, and implement educational interventions to address these issues, and evaluation of these educational interventions in order to redirect future programming.
At the heart of the program development process is the involvement of volunteers in all aspects of program development. There is no question that it is important to have subject matter expertise, but without the capability of Extension educators to design, implement, evaluate and interpret educational programs Extension clientele will not realize change in terms of behavior/practices changes or practice/technology adoption.
New Extension educators should immediately engage the program development process when arriving in the county. In order to become more engaged in this process and improve skills associated with program development the following steps should be taken:
Extension has utilized a systematic approach to develop programs for many decades. However, clientele did not always have access to personal computers, smart phones, or the internet. The communities that Extension educators live and work in today is extraordinarily different than those they were working in just 15 or 20 years ago.
While technological advancements and the demographics of clientele and communities has undeniably changed the Extension educational landscape, there is still a need for a systematic program development process that will enable Extension educators to rapidly plan, implement, evaluate and interpret educational programs that result in change. Therefore it is paramount that Extension educators become proficient in executing the program development process.
Seevers, B., & Graham, D. (2012). Education through Cooperative Extension. (3rd ed.). Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Bookstore.