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Monday, August 22, 2011

Program Planning-Back to the Basics

The Program Planning Workshop and Conferences are some of the most important meetings conducted our District each year. At times these meetings can become heavy with process and light in productivity. The reason this can be the case is that focus is on check lists and getting the program planning process finalized rather than attention to quality of the programs and detail.

We all constantly talk about thinking “outside the box.” That’s fine, and we should certainly think outside the box. But here’s another approach that we had better not ignore – get back inside the box and get the basics right as it relates to Extension programming.Some of the basics that leads to success in Extension programming that should not be ignored during Program Planning Conferences includes;
  • Volunteer Management.
  • Clientele relations. Agents should ensure that our county offices are inviting and welcoming places for clientele to visit.
  • Effective communication with clientele.
  • Effective internal communication
  • Effective utilization of the Program Development Process- Program Planning, Program Implementation, and Evaluation and Interpretation.
  • Effective reporting.
  • Effective utilization of Program Specialists.
  • Effective utilization of teaching methodologies (result demonstrations, educational workshops, short courses, newsletters, news articles, etc.).
  • Mastery of subject matter.
  • Responsiveness to clientele needs. Remember that just because we can duplicate a plan from a previous year, does not mean it should be done. Agents should be challenged to provide fresh new programs , not just duplicate a plan from a previous year.
  • Effectively working with funding partners.
  • Appropriate professional development and career development. Quality time should be spent in discussing status related to career ladder promotion.
In order to focus on the basics in Extension Programming , agents should allowing program development to become a series of manageable steps. Here are some actions to take and points that County Extension Agents should consider when developing programs so that measurable outcomes becomes an integral part of the process.

1. Develop Goals for Programs Based On Need
Who are the audiences to be served? What are the outcomes to be sought? Are these outcomes attainable and measurable? Do potential programs fit local or clientele interests, and Texas AgriLife Extension’s state strategic plans?
2. Determine Priorities
Consider time and resources available. If choices must be made, which programs are likely to have greater impact on more people? Which ones are likeliest to grow? Which might be turned over to volunteers or advisory groups to maintain? Which might provide the greatest positive media attention and other forms of recognition for agents and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service? Which are likely to generate the most scholarly contributions for Agents? Which have the support of clientele and advisory groups?
Agents should involve stakeholders–people who have an interest in program results–in planning and decision-making whenever possible.
3. Determine Specific, Measurable Objectives for the Programs Selected
Agents should confirm that their objectives are measurable and attainable. If agents are unable to list their objectives in writing, they are probably not ready to plan or deliver the program. Agents should determine how they will know if the objectives are met (evaluation method).
4. Determine Extensions role in Public Value for every program.
5. These four actions above are made available directly from our grass root program area committees. The stronger our committees the better information we will have to prepare our yearly plans.

District 11 TEAFCS Retreat
I had the great opportunity to attend this years D11 TEAFCS retreat in Corpus Christi at Padre Island last week.  I want to congratulate the members of TEAFCS for a great professional development opportunity for their members.  I was particularly impressed with the professional presentations provided by Mandi Wallace, Sally Garret, and Jennifer Boening as agents in the Spot Light.  Agents also provided one pagers for the the idea sharing session.  Discussion after each presentation was productive for all at the retreat.  Thanks for allowing me to attend and for the great fellowship at dinner the night before. DM

This week in D11
  • August 25th, Deadline for State Fair Entries!
  • August 25th, CBC planning meeting , Victoria County Extension office 9 am. All committee members and species superintendents expected to attend in person or by Lync.
  • August 25th, CEA FCS Youth Strike Team Briefing  11:00 am , Lync

Personnel News:
Help me in congratulating Shamaine St. Julian as she was awarded her Masters Degree last week. Shamaine's commitment to her education and professionalism is clearly evident as she continues to provide high quality direction for the Austin County 4-H program. 
Great Job Superstar !