By: Mollie Lastovica
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension professionals from across the state gathered in College Station Nov. 12-15 for Extension Foundations and Program Excellence Academy workshops.
Organized and implemented by the Organizational Development branch of Extension, the series of workshops helps familiarize new County Extension Agents and Specialists with the functions and programs housed within Extension.
Extension Foundations, the initial workshop of the series, gives professionals an overview of the entire Extension service.
“It introduces many different concepts and aspects of our positions in counties,” said Marie Arick, Eastland County Extension Agent. “The state is different from top to bottom. All of us come from different backgrounds. This aids us in how to approach things best in our own communities.”
Extension Foundations participants covered a wide variety of topics from livestock to program development and teaching effectiveness.
“We have hit on all different topics,” said Jason Westbrook, Haskell County Extension Agent. “It has helped me put faces with names on e-mails and has been an introduction to different areas we have to work in.”
For Aaron R. Gray, Denton County Extension Agent for 4-H and Youth Development, the workshop was a reminder of his purpose as an Extension professional.
“It helps us get more familiar with resources and has been a refresher of why we do what we do,” Gray said. “For me, in 4-H, it’s about the kids, not the parents, winning, or anything. My focus is the kids.”
Following the Extension Foundations program, participants progress through Program Excellence Academies I and II, which were first piloted in 2006 and have been implemented since 2010. All three programs take place in six month increments within the first year and a half of their career.
Program Excellence Academies I and II delve deeper into Extension programs and technologies used for data collection, demographics and tracking participation in county-wide events.
“The purpose [of these programs] is to provide new faculty with a set of tools that will enable them to have success in developing, delivering and evaluating educational programs in their counties,” said Jeff Ripley, Ph.D., assistant professor and extension specialist.
Learn more about Organizational Development and workshops on their website.