Debriefing Following Program Excellence Academy and Extension Foundations

Smith-Lever logoExtension Foundations and Session I and Session II of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Excellence Academy was held on April 14, 2014 to April 17, 2014 in College Station, Texas. This training venue provided these new agents with in-depth training that will enable them to be more effective earlier in their career. Some the the highlights of the Texas AgriLife Extension Foundations included;

  • Administrative Topics and Agency Overview
  • Program Area Overviews
  • Demographics Report from Counties
  • Planning Group Sessions
  • Recruiting and Training LAB and PAC Members
  • Volunteer Management
  • Issue ID and Description
  • Target Audience
  • Outcome indicators/Objective
  • TeXas Reporting.
  • Educational Design
  • LAB/PAC Simulation Sessions
  • Family and Consumer Science 4-H 101
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources 4-H 101

The basic premise of the academy will be to take the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service Program Development Model and break it down into manageable components. It is expected that by the time a county Extension agent has completed the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Excellence Academy, the agent will be able to…

  • Define and use terminology associated with Extension Program Development.
  • Demonstrate the core competencies critical for agents as they are related to the program development process.
  • Understand the importance and necessity of planning and program development within programmatic environments.
  • Use planning and program development principles, theories, techniques, and applications to assist Texas Agrilife Extension Service achieve strategic objectives.

The topics for Session I included the following;

  • Overview of Program Development Model
  • Personality Assessment
  • County Demographics
  • Planning Groups-Getting the Membership Right
  • LAB Overview
  • Planning Group Concurrent Session
  • Volunteer Management
  • Issue ID and Description
  • Target Audience
  • Outcome Indicators/Objectives
  • Planning and Reporting in TExAS
  • Educational Design
  • Facilitation Skills
  • Effective Meeting Management
  • Program Area Committee Simulation

Topics for Session II included the following;

  • Learning Style Assessment
  • Dynamic Presentations
  • Overview of Delivery Methods
  • Presentation Skills and Professionalism
  • Educating Through Print and Media Sources
  • Volunteerism
  • Result Demonstration for ANR
  • Programming to Limited Resource FCS Audiences
  • Youth Development Resources
  • Evaluation Discussion
  • Evaluating Extension Programs
  • Documenting Program Results in TExAS
  • Communicating through Mass Media

While this on-boarding component was conducted by a Program Excellence training team , it is important that District Extension Administrators/County Extension Directors and Regional Program Leaders recognize that they are the catalyst for all on-boarding functions in the Region. District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors should debrief new agents and reinforce principles covered during the Program Excellence Academy. This debriefing can provide the opportunity for District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors to clarify any element that the new agent may not understand or may not understand how to implement concepts taught during the Academy.The following premises must be embraced if Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s on-boarding system is going to be successful;

  • All members of Regional Teams are responsible for new agent on-boarding.
  • New agent on-boarding is a sequential learning process where one event establishes the knowledge base for future learning activities that provides progressively more complex training.
  • All on-boarding experiences have specific teaching points that are designed to increase knowledge, develop skills, encourage adoption of best practices or lead to the refinement of best practices.
  • All on-boarding experiences are designed to give agents “early wins”!

Other components that makes up the Texas AgriLife Extension Service on-boarding system includes…

  • District Extension Administrator Orientation Agendas that provide core teaching points.
  • Regional Program Director Orientation Agendas that provide core teaching points
  • A On-boarding continuum that provides a roadmap for on-boarding new agents.
  • Online learning modules that provides agents with a introduction of Extension program management topics.
  • Excellence in Programming Academy that provides new agents with in-depth experiential learning experiences related to program planning, teaching effectiveness, program implementation, and evaluation and interpretation.
  • The Texas AgriLife Extension Service Mentoring Program.
  • First Step.
  • Extension Fundamentals letter series designed to reinforce topics covered during orientations, face to face trainings and online modules .
  • Revised New Agent Self -Study Guide.

Resources that will assist middle managers in the on-boarding process can be found at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, New Agent On-boarding Web Site. This web site includes…

  • On-boarding flowcharts and time-lines.
  • District Extension Administrator and County Extension Director Orientation Agendas.
  • 4-H Regional Program  Orientation Agendas.
  • 4-H Specialist Orientation Agenda.
  • Agriculture and Natural Resource Regional Program Director Orientation Agenda.
  • Family and Consumer Science Regional Program Director Orientation Agenda.
  • District Extension Administrator and County Extension Director Task Check List.
  • First Step Journal.
  • New Agent Study Guide.
  • New Agent Note Pages.
  • Mentoring In Extension Guidelines.
  • Extension Fundamentals educational letter series.

These systematic trainings are designed to provide the sequential learning experience that will enable new agents to…

  • Gain knowledge of the organization.
  • Gain knowledge of organizational processes.
  • Develop skills.
  • Adopt best practices.
  • Refine best practices.

Quality time in effectively on-boarding new agents that could potentially result in increased retention should be viewed as an investment in the future of Texas AgriLife Extension Service. District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors should plan on visiting with agents who attended Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Excellence Academy to reinforce principles covered during this on-boarding activity. Remember, District Extension Administrators/County Extension Directors and Regional Program Leaders are the catalyst for all on-boarding functions in the Region.

This Article was Posted by Drs. Darrell A. Dromgoole and Susan Ballabina, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Categories: Improve Recruitment and Retention, Uncategorized