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Monday, August 16, 2010

Program Interpretation Makes a Difference during Challenging Times

In 2007 James Lindstrom conducted a study entitled The Relationship among Washington State County Commissioners’ Knowledge and Perception of Washington State University Extension and Their Willingness to Fund WSU Extension that investigates the relationship between effective interpretation and Commissioner Courts willingness to fund Extension programs.

This study (Lindstrom, 2007) was designed to determine whether Washington State Commissioners’ Court members’ perceptions, knowledge, and/or understanding of Extension are related to and may have predictability to their willingness to provide funding for local Extension programs.

Lindstrom’s (2007) research suggests that county commissioners’ interaction with Extension influences their knowledge and perceptions related to the value of Extension. This influence on commissioners’ knowledge and perception can potentially impact the commissioners’ views related to funding programs at the local level. Some lessons that Texas AgriLife Extension Service can learn from this research (Lindsrom, 2007) includes;

* involvement of elected officials in Extension “Showcase Events” is imperative to increasing county commissioners and legislators knowledge and perception of Extension programs which in turn potentially impacts funding.

* District Judges and Commissioners Conferences hosted by District Extension Administrators are critical in enhancing relationships between Extension and elected officials. These events, when designed correctly, can be an excellent venue for program interpretation.

* Extension Making a Difference documents and outcome summaries that communicates Texas AgriLife Extension’s public value can enhance elected officials knowledge and perception in Extension programs.

* Formal interpretation events with elected officials conducted annually that communicates Texas AgriLife Extension’s public value are critical to our future funding.

The bottom-line is this research (Lindstrom, 2007) supports the theory that the formula that county commissioners’ court support is predicated upon three elements;

1. Effective programming,

2. Visibility, and

3. Effective interpretation .

During economically challenging times, ensuring that County Extension Programs include effective programming, high visibility of programs, and effective interpretation is essential.

Remember, we have limited control over many factors related to economic challenges facing Extension. However, you as agents have tremendous influence over how we interpret our value to your local stakeholders.

Remote Mic Technology Trainings
Texas AgriLife Extension Service provides information delivery and the Internet is a preferred method for many of our customers use to find information.  Commonly Extension agents present educational programs to live audiences and miss the opportunity to reach online consumers.

A training will be offered for District 11 agents at three locations in September. Austin County will host the first training on September 21st , Jackson County on the 22nd, and the District office in Corpus Christi on the 23rd. Each training will start at 9:30 am and finish at 4:00 pm. The training is geared to equip and train Extension agents in to capture their live presentations and convert the program for delivery via the Internet. Agents will learn how to capture live programs using Camtasia software and USB microphones with just a few clicks of the mouse to produce rich quality video and audio. In addition, the training will cover how to edit and upload the finished product to one of Extension YouTube channels.

I want to recognize Mr. Pete Flores for securing a grant to supply each of our counties with the equipment and software needed to use this technology. I am asking that at least one agent from each County attend one of the trainings. Support staff is also welcome. Please let me know who and where you plan to attend.

REMINDER: Agents Taking College Courses

Fall 2010 classes at many universities begin within the next few weeks. This is a reminder to all agents who are taking college classes, agents are required by system policy to request permission to register as a student.

The study and training request is a web/automated process. The employee is to fill their request form online and submit. After the employee submits the request, it will be routed to their supervisor for further processing and approval.

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For regular college classes face-to-face or online courses the student will select option #2 “Part-time Study Request”. If they are taking a leave of absence for educational or professional development they will select the alternative option.

If you or your employee have any problems with filling out the form, please give Rebecca Luckey a call at (979) 458-3288.