I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how Extension professionals need to work as part of broad coalitions or networks, if Extension is going to be a part of addressing complex problems like health, climate or water. I have spent considerably less time thinking about the skills Extension professionals will need to be effective in these coalitions and networks.
That's where Carol Smathers and Jenny Lobb from Ohio State University Extension come in. They surveyed Extension professionals in Ohio to find out if they were working with community coalitions and what professional development they needed to be more effective in that work They published a Journal of Extension article about what they found out, "Extension Professionals and Community Coalitions: Professional Development Opportunities Related to Leadership and Policy, System, and Environment Change." I talked with Carol and Jenny on the Working Differently in Extension podcast.
If we expect Extension professionals to work with coalitions and networks (I think they must if Extension is going to stay relevant), then we need to make sure they have the skills to help build and sustain them. Community development and leadership specialists in Extension already have a lot of those skills, and are prepared to share them. They might be the single most important group to Extension's future.
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