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FY6008 Programming vs. Activities: Balancing Local Demands and Educational Objectives1 Steve Jacob and Millie Ferrer2 1. This document, FCS6008, was produced in conjunction with the Program Development and Evaluation Center (PDEC), Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: August 2000. Please visit the EDIS Internet website at http://edis/ufl.edu 2. Steve Jacob, Ph.D.,assistant professor, and Millie Ferrer, Ph.D., associate professor, Human Development, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean. Introduction As a Cooperative Extension Agent, you will be expected to design and conduct programs. A program is a series of related activities that lead to meeting objectives and goals. Since Cooperative Extension is an organization committed to lifelong learning, almost all of your activities should be educational. The ultimate goal in the great majority of Extension programming is modifying the behavior of clients. It has been shown repeatedly through research that the more contacts an agent has with clients, the more likely clients are to modify their behaviors. Where the Confusion Lies Many agents confuse activities with programs. Some agents are extremely busy with activities, perform such activities very well, and yet are not reaching their full potential as Extension educators. This is because the agent lacks an integrated program or seldom has some type of contact with clients. This results in minimal impact on behavioral change. Nonetheless, one-shot seminars and lectures are often part of an agent's service to a county and an important function of your position. These increase awareness of Extension's programs and establish you as a source of reliable information in the county. Be mindful that such seminars and lectures need to function as appetizers before the main meal: they provide an opportunity to recruit clientele to more in-depth educational programs. Where Confusion Can Lead What's the catch? Over-emphasis. Though one-shot seminars or lectures can give the appearance that an agent is having a large impact within the county (because client contact numbers will be high), few clients who attend such activities go on to change their behavior. So, the agent who over-emphasizes activities is unable to provide any evidence of behavior change in clientele. This could become an issue when the agent is evaluated. Despite the energy and effort expended, this activity-emphasizer will not be as highly regarded as the agent who conducts integrated programming and collects behavioral change data.


Programming vs. Activities: Balancing Local Demands and Educational Objectives 2 When Confusion Rules The 100% Administrator The worst sort of activities are where the agent does not use an opportunity to teach. For example, a 4-H agent may plan 20 days annually for camp. The agent sees his/her role as administration or logistics--essentially getting the 4-H'ers to and from scheduled events. Here, there is a great opportunity for the agent to teach at camp, but very few agents do this. Hint: These teaching activities should be written into the Plans of Work (POW) and then carried out. The Master of Ceremonies Another example would be when agent has arranged for a state specialist to make a presentation. The agent organizes the meeting, sets up the chairs, and introduces the speaker -but does not teach. Hint: The Extension agent could have spent 30 minutes on the presentation topic and establish themselves as the local expert. Apples and Orangutans At other times, agents have an ideal audience but miss an opportunity for an in-depth program. For example, a Family and Consumer Science (FCS) agent may be giving a monthly lecture at Family and Community Educators leader trainings. Typically, the lectures are unrelated to one another, and not integrated into a comprehensive program, designed to change client behavior. Hint: look for opportunities that lend themselves to curriculum development or topic expansion. Survival Tips: 1. Look for ways to turn activities into teaching opportunities: A week of 4-H camp administration could include daily 45-minute lectures on (an) appropriate topic(s). Instead of just introducing a state specialist at a program, spend some time teaching. 3. Use one-shot seminars and lectures to recruit participants for in-depth programming. Use these lectures as opportunities to promote county Extension programming. 4. Take opportunities to turn regularly scheduled meetings with groups into integrated programs that have written measurable objectives and goals. 5. Collect evaluation data--especially behavior change--where appropriate.


Programming vs. Activities: Balancing Local Demands and Educational Objectives 3 Table 1. Examples of Activities that can grow into Programs. ACTIVITIES PROGRAMS Speaking at a PTA Meeting A Six-Week Seminar Series on Parenting Young Children Speaking at a Garden Club Meeting Master Gardener Certification Animal Science 4-H Club Meeting Session on Nutrition Completion of the 4-H Animal Science Curriculum A Seminar on Household Budgeting A Six-Week Seminar Series on Household Budgeting with Pre/Post Test Evaluation Speaking at a Conference Follow-up with an In-depth Program on that Specific Topic A Meeting to Discuss Water Quality Issues with a State Specialist Completion of Farm or Home*A*Syst