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The Pre-Entry Competenices of Florida Extension Agents

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0041322/00001

Material Information

Title: The Pre-Entry Competenices of Florida Extension Agents
Physical Description: 1 online resource (96 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Benge, Matthew
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: agent, career, competency, extension, preentry
Agricultural Education and Communication -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Agricultural Education and Communication thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: It is important to focus attention on the pre-entry competencies of new organization members and to identify the competencies needed by extension agents to determine adequate education curricula, training, and retention (Arnold, 2007; Harder, Place, & Sheer, 2009; Wanous, 1980). The Professional Development Model comprises three stages: Entry, Colleague, and Counselor and Advisor (Kutilek et al., 2002). Each stage possesses distinct motivators and organizational strategies which enable the employee and organization to maximize their full potential. However, The Professional Development Model solely focuses on the stages of extension agents currently in the Extension organization, disregarding the motivational factors and pre-entry competencies of agents entering Extension. This study was an ex post facto design using survey methodology to examine the motivational factors and pre-entry competencies of Florida extension agents. Descriptive statistics including central tendencies and frequencies, t-tests, and analysis of variance were used to satisfy the objectives of this study. A key finding from this study was the respondents perceptions of necessary pre-entry competencies when beginning their career in Extension. The most necessary competencies reported by respondents were: (a) self-management, (b) the program development process, (c) communication skills, (d) interpersonal skills, (e) technical/subject matter expertise, and (f) teaching skills. Another key finding was respondents competencies when they first entered their career in Extension. The competencies agents were most competent in were interpersonal skills, self-management, professionalism, problem-solving, and communication skills. The competencies agents were least competent in were accountability, applied research skills, program planning, program implementation, and the ability to utilize technology for program delivery.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Matthew Benge.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Harder, Amy Marie.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2010-12-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0041322:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0041322/00001

Material Information

Title: The Pre-Entry Competenices of Florida Extension Agents
Physical Description: 1 online resource (96 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Benge, Matthew
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: agent, career, competency, extension, preentry
Agricultural Education and Communication -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Agricultural Education and Communication thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: It is important to focus attention on the pre-entry competencies of new organization members and to identify the competencies needed by extension agents to determine adequate education curricula, training, and retention (Arnold, 2007; Harder, Place, & Sheer, 2009; Wanous, 1980). The Professional Development Model comprises three stages: Entry, Colleague, and Counselor and Advisor (Kutilek et al., 2002). Each stage possesses distinct motivators and organizational strategies which enable the employee and organization to maximize their full potential. However, The Professional Development Model solely focuses on the stages of extension agents currently in the Extension organization, disregarding the motivational factors and pre-entry competencies of agents entering Extension. This study was an ex post facto design using survey methodology to examine the motivational factors and pre-entry competencies of Florida extension agents. Descriptive statistics including central tendencies and frequencies, t-tests, and analysis of variance were used to satisfy the objectives of this study. A key finding from this study was the respondents perceptions of necessary pre-entry competencies when beginning their career in Extension. The most necessary competencies reported by respondents were: (a) self-management, (b) the program development process, (c) communication skills, (d) interpersonal skills, (e) technical/subject matter expertise, and (f) teaching skills. Another key finding was respondents competencies when they first entered their career in Extension. The competencies agents were most competent in were interpersonal skills, self-management, professionalism, problem-solving, and communication skills. The competencies agents were least competent in were accountability, applied research skills, program planning, program implementation, and the ability to utilize technology for program delivery.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Matthew Benge.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Harder, Amy Marie.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2010-12-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0041322:00001


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1 THE PRE ENTRY COMPETENCIES OF FLORIDA EXTENSION AGENTS By MATT BENGE A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009

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2 2009 M att B enge

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3 To my f amily

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many people have helped and encouraged me throughout the writing and defending of this thesis. I first would like to thank parents, Gary and Trice Benge, for their support during my graduate school experience. Their love and support were always the re when I needed them. I thank the rest of my family for believing in me: J.W., Stephen, April, Steve, and Morgan. Additionally, I have to thank by wonderful dog Dakota. Da kota has always been by my side, but mostly in my lap, and kept me grounded when writing my thesis. She always seemed to know when I needed a break from writing. Next, I thank my thesis committee. First, I thank Dr. Amy Harder who served as my committee c hair. Throughout the entire process Dr. Harder provided the guidance, constructive criticism, and encouragement while writing my thesis. Additionally, Dr. Harder answered all of my thousands of questions with patience and for giving Dr. Carter and I chocol ate I also thank Dr. Hannah Carter who served on my com mittee. Dr. Carter provided the necessary insight when Dr. Harder and I stumbled, as well as providing the energy needed to continue my thesis meetings. I would also like to thank my fellow graduate s tudents in the AEC Department. First, a huge thanks goes out to Angelina Toomey, Lauri Baker, and Mark Mauldin for sharing an office space with me for two years. They became my best friends in graduate school and have become my best friends for life. Rober t Strong gave me the encouragement I needed when I applied for the 4 H position in Alachua County. Anna Warner was a great friend and provided many play dates at the dog park with our puppies.

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5 I also thank the other members of the AEC Department for liste ning to my complaints as a new extension agent and my never ending stories about my dog. Over the past two years this includes: Sebastian Galindo Gonzalez, Hannah Ranew, Rachel Divine, Andrew Thoron, Audrey Vail, Karen Cannon, Rochelle Strickland, Crystal Mathews, Katie Abrams Ann Delay, Lisa Hightower, Tre Easterly, Christy Windham, Lauren Dillard, Mary Rodriquez, Lex Lamm, and Charlie Nealis. Special thanks to the faculty and staff of the AEC Department. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to earn assistantship. You have given me the tools not only to be a successful extension agent, but the tools t o be a successful professional. Without your guidance and support I would not be the person and prof essional I am today. I also thank my co workers at the Alachua County Extension Office: Cindy Sanders, Peggy Vanyo, Aparna Gazula, Rene Nelms, Barton Wilder, Wendy Wilber, Brenda Williams, and Sharon Robinson. These agents and office staff have been the le ading force behind by success as a new extension agent. I also would like to thank Andy Duce and Monica Wils on Andy was my roommate for two years and the best friend I have ever had. He always seemed to know when I needed a break from studying to go eat at KFC. Monica was one of the first persons I met seven years ago at the University of Florida. Monica has always been there to listen and always kept an open mind. Both Andy and Monica represent the truest meaning of friendship.

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6 Finally, I would like to thank Dan who has been my rock and the person I can most count on. Throughout this past year our relationship has grown stronger than I ever could have imagined. He was always there when I needed so meone to talk to and confide in I look forward to our future together. Thank you for taking a chance on me.

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7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 L IST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE ................................ ................................ ......... 12 Background and Setting ................................ ................................ .......................... 12 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 13 Problem Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ 15 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 17 Definitions of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ 18 Purpose and Objectives ................................ ................................ .......................... 19 Limitations of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ 19 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 20 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 20 Entry Stage ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 23 Colleague Stage ................................ ................................ ............................... 23 Counselor and Advisor Stage ................................ ................................ ........... 24 Influences to Entry ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 24 Positive Influences on Entry Stage Agents ................................ ....................... 25 Negative Influences on Ent ry Stage Agents ................................ ..................... 26 Motivation to Enter Extension ................................ ................................ ................. 27 Pre Service Competencies ................................ ................................ ..................... 29 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 31 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 33 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 33 P opulation ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 33 Instrumentation ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 34 Validity, Reliability, and Sources of Error ................................ ................................ 35 Procedure ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 37 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 39 Response Rate and Nonrespondents ................................ ................................ ..... 40 Response Rate ................................ ................................ ................................ 40 Nonresponse ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 41 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 44

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8 Re sults by Objective ................................ ................................ ............................... 44 Objective 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 44 Objective 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 46 Objective 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 48 Objective 4 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 49 Objective 5 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 50 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIO NS ................................ ....................... 67 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 67 Conclusions and Implications ................................ ................................ ................. 67 Objective 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 67 Objective 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 68 Objective 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 69 Objective 4 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 71 Objective 5 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 72 Implications for the Professional Development Model ................................ ............ 73 Recommendatio ns for Future Research ................................ ................................ 76 Recommendations for Practitioners ................................ ................................ ........ 77 APPENDIX A IRB APPLICATION ................................ ................................ ................................ 78 B IRB APPROVAL AND INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ...................... 80 C QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 83 D INITIAL CONTACT E MAIL ................................ ................................ .................... 90 E REMINDER E MAIL ................................ ................................ ................................ 91 F FINAL CONTACE E MAIL ................................ ................................ ...................... 92 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 93 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 96

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9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Four Career Stages by Rennekamp and Na ll (1993) ................................ .......... 20 2 2 The Professional Development Model by Kutilek, Gunderson, and Conklin (2002) ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 22 3 1 Crosstabs of Selected Perso nal Characteristics of Early and Late Respondents ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 41 3 2 Significant Differences Between Competencies and Early and Late Respondents ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 42 4 1 Frequencies and Percentages of Selected Personal Characteristics ................. 45 4 2 Motivational Factors of Extension Agents ................................ ........................... 47 4 3 ...... 48 4 4 Entry Competencies ................................ 49 4 5 Significant Differences between Pre entry Competencies Before Entering ................................ ............. 51 4 6 Significant Differences between Pre entry Competenci Having Worked in Extension in Another State Besides Florida .......................... 53 4 7 Significant Differences between Pre Previous Knowledge of Extension B efore Entering Cooperative Extension ....... 54 4 8 Significant Differences between Pre Highest Degree Received ................................ ................................ ................... 56 4 9 ............ 58 4 10 Years Worked as an Extensio n Agent ................................ ................................ 61 4 11 Significant Differences between Pre Major Program Area ................................ ................................ ........................... 63 5 1 Professional D evelopment Model Modified to Reflect the Pre Entry Stage ........ 74

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10 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Mast er of Science THE PRE ENTRY COMPETENCIES OF FLORIDA EXTENSION AGENTS By Matt Benge December 2009 Chair: Amy Harder Major: Agricultural Education and Communication It is important to focus attention on the pre entry competencies of new organization mem bers and to identify the competencies needed by extension agents to determine adequate education curricula, training, and retention (Arnold, 2007; Harder, Place, & Sheer, 2009; Wanous, 1980). The Professional Development Model comprises three stages: Entry Colleague, and Counselor and Advisor (Kutilek et al., 2002). Each stage possesses distinct motivators and organizational strategies which enable the employee and organization to maximize their full potential. However, The Professional Development Model s olely focuses on the stages of extension agents currently in the Extension organization, disregarding the motivational factors and pre entry competencies of agents entering Extension. This study was an ex post facto design using survey methodology to exa mine the motivational factors and pre entry competencies of Florida extension agents. Descriptive statistics including central tendencies and frequencies, t tests, and analysis of variance were used to satisfy the objectives of this study. A key finding f entry competencies when beginning their career in Extension. The most necessary

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11 competencies reported by respondents were: (a) self management, (b) the program development process, (c) commun ication skills, (d) interpersonal skills, (e) technical/subject matter exp ertise, and (f) teaching skills Another key finding was respondent s competencies when they first entered their career in Extension. The competencies agents were most competent in w ere interpersonal skills, self management, professionalism, problem solving, and communication skills. The competencies agents were least competent in were accountability, applied research skills, program planning, program implementation, and the ability t o utilize technology for program delivery.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PUR POSE Background and Setting The Cooperative Extension Service is an agency for change and problem f research knowledge and giving of instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or Extension brings the rewards of higher education and turns them into educational programs for anyone wishing to participate. The educational programs of Extension are researched based, teaching people to identify p roblems, analyze information, decide among alternative courses of action for dea ling with those problems, and locate the r esources to accomplish the preferred course of action (Rasmussen, 1989). The Morrill Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890 established land grant universities (United States Department of Agriculture, 2008, 7). The Smith Lever Act of 1914 established the partnership between the agricultural colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide for cooperative agricultural extension work, creating the Coo perative Extension Service (United States Department of Agriculture, 2008). Cooperative Extension includes three separate, yet interconnected partners: federal, state, and county. The federal partner is the Extension Service of the USDA, otherwise known as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) The state partner is the Cooperative Extension Service and land grant university of each state. The county partner is the local government where the change implementation and educational programs take place (Seevers et al., 1997).

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13 Extension agents carry out the work of the Cooperative Extension System at the county level. Florida extension agents are county faculty who implement the educational programs to the public. Although agents provide invaluabl e knowledge and skills to clientele, they face numerous challenges such as stress, burnout, long hours, and turnover (Ensle, 2005). Cooperative Extension must strive to reduce these challenges and to retain their agents. Organizational efforts need to be d irected at understanding term, high quality professionals is a direct reflection of a successful organization and must be a priority for Extension to remain a viable ed (Arnold, 2007, p. 18). Cooperative Extension must be able to recruit and retain qualified employees to maintain relevance and influence with the county clientele. Theoretical Framework The Four Stages of Professional Careers Mode l describes how each one of four career stages involves different tasks, relationships, and psychological adjustments (Dalton, Thompson, & Price, 1977). These four stages are apprentice, colleague, mentor, and sponsor. This original model for professional career advancement explains 19). Building upon the work of Dalton et al. (1977), Rennekamp and Nall (1993) adapted and modified the original model of career devel opment for use in Extension. We move to a new career stage by meeting developmental needs characteristic of our ssional Development Model outlines four distinct stages in Extension: entry, colleague, counselor, and

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14 advisor (Rennekamp & Nall, 1993). Each stage is characterized by distinct competencies, also known as motivators, which drive agents through professional development (Rennekamp & Nall, 1993). The entry stage relates to when one first becomes an agent and enters Cooperative Extension. Competencies characterized by this stage include understanding the structure, function, and culture of Extension and establ ishing linkages with volunteers (Rennekamp & Nall, 1993). The second phase is the colleague stage. This career stage is characterized by a fast growth in professional knowledge. Agents have been received as part of the Extension community (Rennekamp & Nall 1993). responsibility for developing others in the organization. These agents manage leadership roles in professional organizations and they understand the need for interdependen ce to accomplish goals (Rennekamp & Nall, 1994). The advisor stage is the last stage. Agents have a key influence in the future direction of the organization. Motivators characterized in this career stage are achieving respect and position of influence (Re nnekamp & Nall, 1994). Kutilek, Gunderson, and Conklin (2002) further developed the Professional model is divided into three stages: entry, colleague, and counselor/advisor. The Career Stage Approach provides organizational strategies that benefit the career growth of an extension agent. The conceptual framework for this study will be the Professional Development Model by Kutilek et al. (2002).

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15 According to Kutilek et al. (2 002), the entry stage is marked by the beginning of complete jobs and learn policies and procedures. Motivators for this stage include understanding the organization, estab lishing linkages and o btaining skills to perform the job (Kutilek et al., 2002). The colleague stage is characterized by the agent moving from dependence to independence. Kutilek et al. (2002) explain ed ma n y agents remain in this career stage rather than moving to the final stage. Motivators found in this career stage are professional development funding, expanding creativity and innovation, and developing an area of expertise. The final stage, the counselor/advisor stage is marked by agents assuming res ponsibility for Cooperative Extension and their peers. Agents increase their participation in the decision making problem solving for Extension and develop other agents. Motivators characterizing this stage include acquiring a broad based expertise, engag ing in organizational problem solving, and counseling/coaching other professionals. Problem Statement Arnold (2007) explained re cruitment and retention within E xtension have become progressively more problematic. High quality agents are leaving the E xtensi on system due to organizational, non work related, and individual related factors (Kutilek, et al. 2002). New experts must then be identified, recruited, and trained costing valuable time and financial resources. Once employed, the organization must striv e to keep these agents (Ensle, 2005).

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16 Past studies indicate conflicting evidence regarding the reasons agents enter into Extension. NASUL G C (2007) found there were five motivational factors that lead agents to a career in Extension: (a) the opportunity to help people make a difference, (b) previous 4 H experience, (c) flexibility associated with the position, (d) a passion for the work, and (e) a connection with a university and opportunity to apply research. Arnold (2007) found there were six factors in ag ricultural Extension: (a) agent background, (b) career contacts, (c) service to the agricultural community, (d) nature of extension work, (e) position fit, and (f) university supported education. The reasons explained by NAS UL G C and Arnold do not coincide. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the true reasons agents enter into Extension. It is important to focus attention on the pre entry competencies of new organization members. Wanous (1980) explained it is impor tant to place significant attention on the entry of new organization members due to the high cost of premature turnover. The cost for recruitment and training new employees due to premature turnover significantly increases the financial burden of the organ ization. Chandler (2005) explained that replacing extension agents could cost Extension from $7,185 to $30,000 per agent. The cost of turnover can be extremely high, and the highest turnover rates within an organization are found among the newly hired empl oyees (Wanous). Identifying competencies needed by extension agents is a determining factor for adequate education curricula, training, and retention ( Arnold, 2007; Harder, Place, & Sheer, 2009). Vakola, Soderquist, and Prastacos (2007) explained underst anding and developing the competencies of the organization and its employees is essential to having and maintaining a competitive advantage. Previous research regarding

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17 compe tencies of extension agents has failed to recognize those of the pre entry stage. The pre entry stage is defined as t organization. The issue of premature turnover, which affects recruitment and training, is pressing due to the high turnover rate of extension agents. The conflicting evidence regarding motivational factors of agents choosing a career in Extension does not suggest a solid foundation for future recruitment practices. The Professional Development Model solely focuses on the stages of extension agents currently in the Extension or ganization disregarding the motivational factors and pre entry competencies of agents entering Extension. Therefore, the issues of why agents choose a career in Extension and their pre entry competencies need to be further examined. Significance of the Study The career decisions of current extension agents determine the future abilities, skills, and competence of Cooperative Extension (ECOP, 2002). Without understanding be low retention rates and poor recruiting practices. Additionally, the cost of premature turnover will continue to harm the clientele of Extension, the pool of Extension applicants, as well as administrators must use the motivational factors influencing agents to enter Extension to improve their recruitment practices. Pre entry competencies should be a determining factor in hiring and training extension agents (Keita and Luft, 1987) Cooperative Extension should have an increased focus on the competencies of agents entering Extension. The ability to

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18 increase focus on pre entry competencies leans heavily on recognizing and understanding these competencies. Hiring agents with the necessary set of p re entry competencies increases the chances of them being successful, and in return, increase s the amount of agents moving from the entry stage to the counselor stage of the Career Stages Model. The training and professional development of new extension a gents should be derived from the competencies they currently possess. Therefore, this study will provide administrators in charge of training and professional development an understanding of the existing competencies of new extension agents. These pre entr y competencies should be the basis for training and professional development of new extension agents. Definitions of Terms Career Stages Model intended to address the organizational strategies, needs, and motivators that relate to multiple phases of care er growth and development (Kutilek et al. 2002). Colleague Stage s career which focuses on the growth of professional knowledge, independence, and autonomy in carrying out job duties (Kutilek et al. 2002). Competency a set of observable performance dimensions, such as sk ills, attitudes, and behaviors that are linked to high performance (Athey & Orth, 1999). Counselor/Advisor Stage Employees reaching the third and final car eer stage are characterized by moving from inde pendent contribution to interdependence and being able to work through others (Kutilek et al. 2002). Entry Stage understanding the organization, the organizational culture, and skills ess entia l to perform the job (Kutilek et al. 2002). Extension Agent an educator who cooperates with others in order to teach people to identify problems, analyze information, decide among alternative courses of action for dealing with those problems, and lo cate the resources to accomplish a preferred course of action (Rasmussen, 1989). FCES Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

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19 NIFA The National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Pre Entry Stage Premature Turnover the cost of turnover when new employees are hired and then leave the organization before the employee is able to benefit the organization (Griffeth & Hom, 2001). USDA United States Department of Agriculture. Purpose and Objectives T he purpose of this study wa s to understand the pre entry competencies and career decisions of Florida extension agents The key objectives of this study included: Objective 1: To describe selected personal characteristics of extension agents ; Ob jective 2: To describe the mot ivational factors that influence extension agents to enter the Florida Cooperative Extension Service; Objective 3: To describe agent s competencies when they first entered their career in Extension; eptions of necessary pre entry competencies, and; pre entry competencies and selected personal characteristics of extension agents. Limitations of Study There were three l imitations of this study. The first limitation was that the participants selected for this study were UF/IFAS extension agents and may not be representative of extension agents outside of Florida. The second limitation was the possibility that respondents may have misinterpreted the questions. If misinterpretation occurred, then the validity of this study would decrease. The third limitation was that the participants of the study were honest when reporting their answers.

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20 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Theor etical Framework The Professional Development Model by Kutilek et al. (2002) is a career stages model developed through a systems approach to career development. Systems relationship among parts, all of which are system are contingent upon each other for information, development, and evaluation, and the entire system uses feedback to determine if desired goals have been reached. organization to be successful. The Professional Development Model by Kutilek et al. (2002) was adapted from the work of Dalton, Thompson, and Price (1977) and Rennekamp and Nall (199 3). Dalton et al. (1977) developed a model called The Four Stages of Professional Careers. This model proposed that each stage is distinguished from the other stages by the tasks (central activities), relationships, and psychological adjustments in which t he employee is involved. Table 2.1 describes all four stages issues at each stage. Table 2 1. Four Career Stages by Rennekamp and Nall (1993) Stage I Stage II Stage III Stage IV Central Activity Helping, Learning, and Following directions Independent contributor Training Interfacing Shaping the direction of the organization Primary Relationship Apprentice Colleagues Mentor Sponsor Major Psychological Issues Dep endence Independence Assuming responsibility for others Exercising power

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21 Building upon the work of Dalton et al. (1977), Rennekamp and Nall (1993) applied The Four Stages of Professional Careers model to Cooperative Extension. Agents move to a new career stage by attaining competencies in order to develop as a successful extension agent in that stage. The agent that does not gain or develop the appropriate competencies for their current career stage is not likely to advance to the next career stage or wil l move to a different job (Rennekamp & Nall). The fi rst stage is the entry stage which the second stage, the colleague stage, e xtension p ersonnel have become accepted in the Extension community. This stage is characterized by a rapid growth in knowledge of the Extension organization, independence, and autonomy. The counselor stage is the third stage. Extension personnel who reach this stage develop expertise in other areas beyond what they already possess and become committee chairs. They also take on leadership roles in professional associations (Rennekamp & Nall). The last stage, the advisor stage, is characterized by extension p ing a key role in shaping the (Rennekamp & Nall, 1993, 17). Kutilek et al. (2002) modified the career stage model of Rennekamp and Nall (1993) by combining th e counselor and advisor stages. The Professional Development Model comprises three stages: Entr y, Colleague, and Counselor/ Advisor (Kutilek et al., 2002). Each stage possesses distinct motivators and organizational strategies which enable the employee and organization to maximize their full potential. For the purpose

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22 and competencies to more accurately describe the knowledge, skills, and abilities included in the mod el. Table 2 2. The Professional Development Model by Kutilek, Gunderson, and Conklin (2002) Career Stage Motivators Organizational Strategies Entry Stage Understanding the organization, structure, and culture; Obtaining essential skills to per form job; Establishing linkages with internal partners; Exercising creativity and initiative, and; Moving from dependence to independence. Peer mentoring program; Professional support teams; Leadership coaching, and; Orientation/job training. Colleague St age Developing area of expertise; Professional development funding; Becoming an independent contributor in problem resolution; Gaining membership and identity in professional community; Expanding creativity and innovation, and; Moving from independence to interdependence. In service education; Specialization funds; Professional association involvement; Formal educational training, and; Service on committees or special assignments. Counselor and Advisor Stages Acquiring a broad based expertise; Attaining leadership positions; Engaging in organizational problem solving; Counseling/coaching other professionals; Facilitating self renewal, and; Achieving a position of influence and stimulating thought in others. Life and career renewal retreats; Mentoring and trainer agent roles; Assessment center for leadership, and; Organizational sounding boards.

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23 Entry Stage The entry (or apprentice) stage is when an employee first enters the organization or a new job within the organization (Kutilek et al., 2002). New ex tension agents tend to feel overwhelmed due to the large amount of information concerning the organization, their job duties, and the operational policies and procedures. New agents specifically need to be educated to successfully transition into the organ ization and work responsibilities (Arnold, 2007; Kutilek et al., 2002). The motivators within the entry stage are: (a) understanding the organ ization, structure, and culture, (b) obtaining essential skil ls to perform the job, (c) establishing linkages with internal partners, (d) exerc ising creativity and initiative, and (e) moving from dependence to independence (Kutilek et al., 2002). The entry stage also provides four organizational strategies to assist the new employee and organization in supporting this significant transition: (a) peer mentoring program, (b) professional support teams, (c) leadership coaching, and (d) orientation/job training. Colleague Stage The colleague stage is characterized by growth in professional knowledge, independence, and au tonomy. Employees within this stage have been accepted as members of the professional community and independently contribute their expertise to solving problems and carrying out programs (Rennekamp & Nall, 1993). Self directed learning and maturity are com mon career growth attributes. The extent to which an agent remains in this stage depends on whether or not the assigned roles and responsibilities stay consistent. The motivators for t his stage include: (a) developing areas of expertise, (b) p rofessional d evelopment funding, (c) becoming an independent co ntributor in problem resolution, (d) gaining membership and identity in the

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24 professional community, (e) expa nding creativity and innovation, and (f) moving from independence to interdependence. Organization al strategies comprise in service education, specialization funds, professional association involvement, formal educational training, and service on committees or special assignments (Kutilek et al., 2002). Counselor and Advisor Stage The final stage is c haracterized by the increase in additional responsibility for others in the organization and employees seeking to develop additional areas of contribution to a focus on interdep (Kutilek et al., 2002, 32). Motivators of this stage include: (a) acquiring a broad based expertise; (b) attaining leadership positions; (c) engaging in organizational problem solving; (d) counseling/coachi ng other professionals; (e) facilitating self renewal; and (f) a position of influence and stimulating thought in others. Organizational strategies comprise life and career renewal retreats, mentoring and trainer agent roles, assessment center for leadersh ip, and organizational sounding boards (Kutilek et al., 2002). I nfluences to Entry In the qualitative study of the motivation of agricultural extension agents to enter the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Arnold (2007) reported positive and negativ e influences on agricultural extension agents at the entry level stage. The positive influences on agents were personal skills and characteristics, knowledge bases, internal motivators, external motivators, support system, and informational support. The

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25 ne gative influences on agents were initial mandated requirements, personal work management issues, lack of direction, and job pressures. Positive Influences on Entry Stage Agents Personal skills were described by Arnold (2007) as an y his/her individual talents, such as critical and creative thinking, problem solving, (p. 110). skills to help people was very influ ential to possessing a career in extension. Characteristics of the agents were a willingness to learn, humbleness, patience, comfor t with people, organization, self confidence, and a challenging and cooperative attitude. Having a firm knowledge base in th e areas of E xtension, evaluation, programming, community development, change, and production agriculture were all The previous knowledge agents possessed allowed them to a ddress clientele problems and build relationships immediately upon entering the organization. Additional areas of knowledge reported by participants were reporting and accountability measures, tenure and promotion requirements, computer programs and techno logies, and diversity in agriculture. deci sions to enter or continue in the E xtension organization. According to Arnold (2007), positive reinforcement fo r entry level agents to gauge their and flexibility, goal setting, and reputation establishment were all considered by agents as positive influences. External motivators conveyed by agents included client

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26 behavioral changes, program participation, teamwork efforts, recognition, peer encouragement, awards, scholarships, and grants. Social and informational support was reported as being positively influential for entry st age agents (Arnold, 2007). Social support stemmed from peers, supervisors, mentors, colleagues, specialists, clients, and administrators. Informational support consisted of access to educational resources, in service training, new agent orientation, profes sional development, specialists, and university resources. Negative Influences on Entry Stage Agents Initial mandated requirements such as meetings, reporting and accountability, tenure and promotion, completion of a m hiring process were negative influen ces when deciding to enter the E xtension organization (Arnold, 2007). Many of the agents had heard about negative experiences regarding the reporting process. Also, all participants conveyed displeasure with the hiring p rocess, such as the length, inefficiency, and loss of qualified candidates. become an extension agent (Arnold, 2007). Scheduling difficulties, poor time management, inadequate sala ries, limited access to resources, long work hours, and out of pocket expenses were all negative work management influences reported by participants. Furthermore, many agents had troubles with the organization, planning, and efficiency in their work. A la ck of direction was indicated as a negative influence (Arnold, 2007). Unclear guidance and expectations, inadequate leadership, and the absence of a job description were examples of lack of direction revealed by agents (Arnold, 2007). These negative elemen ts were conveyed by participants as problematic and extremely frustrating.

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27 Job pressures was the last negative influence reported by Arnold (2007). Job pressures included the pressure for success, tenure and promotion requirements, buil ding programs, and obtaining a m that these job pressures were difficult to handle, and caused them to contemplate leaving the extension system. Participants indicated that relieving some of these pressures would be beneficial in retaining new agents. Motivation to Enter Extension Arnold (2007) reported six categories identified by agricultural extension regarding their motivation to enter into the Extension organization: (a) a gent background, (b) career contacts, (c) se r vice to agricultural community, (d) nature of extension work, (e) position fit, and (f) university supported education. Agent background, the first motivational category reported by Arnold (2007), included two factors, academic and work experiences and lac k of knowledge. Agents had similar background experience in working within the agricultural industry, whether being raised on a family farm or working in the industry. Participants also held at least one academic degree in a technical agricultural area, su ch as animal science, horticulture, and general agriculture. Agents differed in their knowledge of E xtension. Seven of the twelve participants lacked E xtension education training before joining FCES. Career contacts was the second motivational category Ar nold (2007) reported. This category contained two factors: encouragement by others and influential relationships. Encouragement by others referred to the positive encouragement from peers, clientele, administrators, friends, and advisors, and was influenti al on each participant studied. Influential relationships, such as the interaction and exposure to extension agents, had a significant impact in agent s decision to enter Extension.

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28 Service to the agricultural community was another motivational category accounted by Arnold (2007). Among the participants studied, a common theme that emerged was their interest in helping agricultural producers to solve problems. The fourth motivational category reported by Arnold (2007) was the nature of extension work. Th e job expectations of the agents studied were centered on the organ izational mission and goals of E xtension. Examples of the nature of extension work that motivated agent to enter Extension were helping people, practical work, challenging situations, solvi ng problems, and providing advice (Arnold, 2007). Position fit was another motivational category found by Arnold (2007). The participants explained that salary, location, and duties played a major role in a decisions to enter into E xtension. Other r easons included the advertised description, freedom and variety, the availability of the job, the right time at the right place, and job benefits. Agent background, the last motivational category reported by Arnold (2007), included two fac tors, non forma l structure and u niversity affiliation. The flexibility of the organ ization and the environment of E xtension were cited by participants as incentives of the non formal structure to enter the organization. Another incentive of the non formal structure was t hat agents had the ability to take risks and try new things in programming decision making because it connected the extension system with the u niversity. This connection, as described by participants, provided personnel and informational resources needed to support agents in their work.

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29 The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (2007 ) gave the top five factors why agents enter a career in Exte nsion. The five factors were: (a) the opportunity t o help people make a difference, (b) previous 4 H experience, (c) flexibili ty associated with the position, (d) a passion for the work, and (e) a connection with a university and opportunity to apply resea rch. Pre Service Competencies Beeman, Cheek, McGhee, and Gregotis (1979) identified professional competencies needed by extension agents in Florida. The authors survey 254 extension agents and 15 state staff members of the Florida Cooperative Extension Se rvice. Out of 154 competencies identified, state staff members rated all of the competencies higher than extension agents. State staff members determined the following competency categories as most important for extension in agent to possess : program plann ing, maintaining professionalism, understanding human behavior, communication, program execution, public relations, teaching, research, evaluation, administration, and 4 H. Extension agents determined the following competency categories for extension agent s to possess : maintaining professionalism, public relations, program planning, communication, program execution, understanding human behavior, teaching, evaluation, administration, research, and 4 H (Beeman et al., 1979). Keita and Luft (1987) state d that the proper skills, knowledge, abilities, and attitudes necessary to effectively carry out Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The following competencies were ranked as the most important for agricultural extension agents to possess before entering a career in Extens ion: (a) get along with people, (b) remain current through regular

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30 read ing, workshops, and conferences, (c) develop support of loca l people for extension programs, (d) ass ess county situations and needs, (e) identify priority programs, (f) public speaking ability, (g) understand principles of communi cation, (h) write effe ctive reports and news articles, and (i) identify and select appropriate physical, material, and human resources to meet program needs (Keita and Luft, 1987). Cooper and Graham (2001) identified the competencies needed to be a successful extension agent. Extension agents and supervisors from Ar kansas in the program areas of agriculture, family and consumer sciences, 4 H, and community development were surveyed. Both agents and supervisor s valued the four competencies of dependability fairness, honesty, and trustworthiness most important for suc cess. The other top ranked competencies of extension agent s were: (a) credible, respected, (b) responds promptly, (c) follows up with contacts, (d) teamwork skills, (e) people skills, (f) stays current, (g) programs meet needs, (h) committee to program, (i ) positive attitude, and (j) accept ed as trusted friend (Cooper & Graham, 2001). Harder, Place, and Sheer (2009) identified the competencies entry level Extension agents will need for the future. The D elphi technique was used to gain insight into the comp etencies Extension experts thought would be necessary for extension agents to possess by 2015. Nineteen core competencies were identified by the expert panel: (a) able to utilize technology for program delivery, (b) accountability, (c) applied research ski lls, (d) communication skills includ ing speaking and writing skills, (e) cultural sensitivity, (f) develop extramural funding, (g) interpersonal skills, (h) organizational leadership developmen t, (i) personal leadership development, (j) problem solving, (k ) professionalism, (l) program evaluation, (m) program implementation, (n) program

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31 planning, (o) relationship building, (p) self management, (q) teaching skills, (r) technical/subject matter ex pertise, and (s) volunteer development (Harder et al., 2009). S ummary Understanding the path that leads to a career in Extension is not only important for recruitment but is also important in the retention of agents (Arnold, 2007). Placing more attention on the entry of new agents will benefit not just recruitment an d retention strategies, but also the financial burdens of replacing and training new agents (Wanous, 1980). Furthermore, identifying competencies needed by extension agents is a determining factor for adequate education curricula, training, and retention ( Arnold, 2007; Harder, Place, & Sheer, 2009 ). The Professional Development Model developed by Kutilek et al. (2002) describes the career path of the beginning extension agent to that of the seasoned extension agent. The Model also examines the motivators w ithin each stage which allow the extension agent to gain more competence and move from one career stage to the next. However, the Model does not explain the career path the extension agent took nor the competencies the new agent possessed before joining Co operative Extension. The competencies and career decisions identified by previous researchers (Arnold, 2007; Beeman et al., 197 9; Cooper & Graham, 2001; Gonzalez, 1982; Harder et al., 2009; Keita & Luft, 1987 ) provide a solid foundation for investigating t he addition of a Pre entry stage to the Professional Development Model. The Professional Development Model (Kutilek et al., 2002) overlooks whether or not a newly hired extension agent has the appropriate pre entry competencies to begin a career in Exten sion. The motivational factors identified by Arnold (2007) do not reflect those identified by NASULGC (2007). The competencies needed by extension agents

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32 as discussed by Harder et al. (2009) do not indicate the pre entry competencies needed by new extensio n agents. Therefore, the five objectives of this study are to provide the missing variables to these studies. The Professional Development Model should be modified to include a pre entry stage. This new stage can be characterized as the phase of when new agents are entering the Extension organization. The motivators for this stage will include the motivational factors that influence agents to enter Extension and the pre entry competencies needed by new extension agents. The organizational strategies for th is stage will include an evaluation of the competencies applicants and new agents have before entering Extension.

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33 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Research Design This study was an ex post facto design using survey methodology to study intangibles. Ary, Jacobs, Ra zavieh, and Sorensen (2006) defined survey research as attitudes, values, opinions an d other personal characteristics that are difficult to measure (Ary et al., 2006). The researcher used a Web based questionnaire to measure the reasons why Florida extension agents selected careers in Extension, perceptions of their pre entry competencies and the competencies needed by pre entry agents. Population The population of interest for this study was Florida extension agents. A list of current Florida extension agents ( N = 334) was obtained from UF/IFAS Extension County Operations office which se rved as the population frame for this study. The list was chosen as the population frame because: (a ) it provided the most up to date list of curr ent Florida extension agents, (b ) all program areas of Florida Cooperative Extension were included and (c ) th e entry, colleague, and counselor/advisor stages of current extension agents were represented. It was important to include extension agents whose program areas represent Florida Cooperative Extension due to the different competencies each program area may require. Collecting data representative of a population is a difficult task (Bartlett, Kotrlik, & Higgins, 2001). Ary et al. (2006) defined a

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34 ne of the most frequently asked questions concerning sampling (Bartlett et al.). The power of population by obtaining information from relatively few elements of that po continuous data and the corresponding correction formula (as cited in Bartlett et al., 2001) were used to calculate the random sample size ( n = 224) for this study. Ins trumentation The researcher found no existing instrument that measured the pre entry competencies or career decisions of extension agents; therefore, the researcher created the Web based questionnaire ( Appendix C ). The researcher obtained some questions f or the questionnaire from similar research studies conducted by Arnold (2006), Harder et al. (2009), and NASULGC (2007). The first section of the questionnaire required the respondents to answer questions regarding the reasons why current Florida extensi on agents entered Extension. This section contained six yes/no questions. The next section of the questionnaire required respondents to answer questions regarding their experiences of new agent professional development. This section comprised four yes/no q uestions, and two of these questions offered respondents an opportunity to briefly explain their answers. This section was not examined for this study. The third section of the questionnaire required respondents to answer two subsections. The first subsec tion was comprised of 19 questions, where respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill concerning 19 competencies before

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35 were drawn from Harder et al. (2009) Respondents indicated their responses on a Likert type scale of one to five (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). The second subsection asked respondents to list the five most important competencies an agent should possess when he/she is hired into Extension. Respondents were able to use the competencies from the previous question and/or list competencies they believed were not included. The final section of the questionn aire contained eight demographic questions previous experience in Extension, if they had worked in Extension in another state besides Florida, and if they had previous k nowledge of Extension before becoming an number of years they have worked in Extension and their age were asked Respondents were asked to type their answers in the space p rovided. The next question asked respondents which program area was their major Extension appointment. Respondents were given the list of major program area s in Florida an swer. The next question asked respondents their highest degree received. Options to ther. The final question of the survey asked respondents the field ( s ) in which they hold their degree(s). The answer option was open ended. Validity, Reliability and Sources of Error Validity, reliability, and sources of error were issues the researcher addressed to make certain the questionnaire measured the construct properly. Ary et al. (2006)

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36 external validity, statistical validity, and construct validity. Internal 634). Internal validity is a matter of contro lling the effects that if produced through resea rch could falsely mistake the effect of the study. Ary et al. (2006) provided eleven potential threats to internal validity. Instrumentation, history, maturation, mortality, testing, and selection were potential threats to this study. The researcher attemp ted to minimize these potential threats through random selection and keeping the instrument unchanged. Statistical regression, experimenter effect, subject effects, diffusion, and selection maturation interaction were not threats to the study. External v function of external validity is for the results of the study to reflect the target population, a nd similar populations in other settings, as accurately as possible. Ary et al. (2006) identified six potential threats to external validity: selection treatment interaction, setting treatment interaction, pretest treatment interaction, subject effects, ex perimenter effects, and the novelty effect. Threats to external validity were diminished by random selection and by comparing early and late respondents to determine if any differences could be identified between these two groups. Statistical validity is al., 2006, p. 311). Potential threats are due to the wrongful analysis of data (Ary et al.,

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37 2006). Statistical validity was controlled through an up to date statistical analysis package and exp ert opinion. to minimize construct validity was related measure studies. Related meas ure studies are studies that have previously measured the construct in question and can increase the validity of the instrument (Ary, et al., 2006). Therefore the previous studies of Arnold (2006) and Harder et al. (2009 ) were used as the foundation on wh ich the instrument was built. A panel of experts was the second method for minimizing construct validity in this study. Face validity is concerned with whether or not the instrument appears valid for its intended purpose (Ary et al., 2006). A panel of expe rts reviewed the instrument used for this study to make certain threats to face validity, as well as construct validity, were minimized. The panel of experts modified two competencies from Harder et al. (2009). which people receive a survey but fail from respondents in many ways, such as education and motivation. Ary et al. (2006) suggested three approaches to minimize nonrespon se : ( a) c o mpare respondents to population, (b) compare early to late respondents, and (c) compare respondents and nonrespondents. The researcher utilized the second approach. A detailed explanation Procedure Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB 02). A proposal to conduct this study was

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38 presented to the IRB on July 24, 2009. A copy of this proposal and the IRB approval le tter can be found in Appendix B IRB approval for the study was granted on July 29, 2009. Survey Monkey was the mode of delivery chosen for this questionnaire. Ary et al. (2006) and Dillman et al. (2009) identified limitations/disadvantages to Web based access to the I nternet, (c) potential lower response rates, (d) difficult to identify respondents, and (e) difficulty in obtaining correct and up to date email address es. However, Florida extension agents use work assigned email addresses, computers, and the Internet daily to do their jobs. The benefits/advantages to using the Web based survey for this study were low cost, anonymity, quick response time, and ease of sub mission and distribution (Ary et al., 2006; Dillman et al., 2009 ). The researcher followed the Tailored Design Method by Dillman et al. (2009). Tailored Design is defined as: T he development of survey procedures that work together to form the survey re quest and motivate various types of people to respond to the survey by establishing trust and increasing the perceived benefits of completing the survey while decreasing the expected costs of participation (Dillman et al., 2009, p. 43) This method all owed the researcher to follow survey procedures that are scientifically founded. The Tailored Design Method yields high response rates, reduces sampling error, and develops trust with respondents (Dillman et al., 2009). Initial contact was made on Septem ber 17 2009, with participants of the study. The E Mail ( Appendix D ) explained: (a) the confidentiality and anonymity of their responses, (b) what the study was, (c) the significance of the study, (d) the need for

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39 their participation, (e) appreciation for their participation, (f) hyperlink to the study, and (e) a password to complete the survey. On September 23 2009 one week after contact was made, a reminder E Mail ( Appendix E ) was sent only to those extension agents who had not yet completed the ques tionnaire. The final contact ( Appendix F them of the upcoming deadline to participate in the study was sent on September 29 2009, only to agents who had not yet completed the questionnaire. The hyperlink was closed on October 5 2009 The researcher compared early respondents to late respondents to account for nonresponse error as identified by Ary et al. (2006). Data Analysis The researcher used the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 17.0 for Wind ows for analysis. Descriptive statistics including central tendencies and frequencies were used to analyze the data describing the pre entry competencies and motivational factors of agents entering their career in Extension. Inferential statistics were use d in this study because the population was treated as a sample from a snapshot in time. The first objective, to describe selected personal characteristics of extension agents, was analyzed by using descriptive statistics. Selected personal characteristi cs included: (a) gender, (b) previous work experience in Extension, (c) previous knowledge of Extension, (d) number of years worked as an agent, (e) age, (f) major program area, (g) highest degree earned, and (h) field where degrees were held. To describ e the motivational factors that influence extension agents to enter the Florida Cooperative Extension Service was the second objective of this study. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the questions framing this objective.

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40 Motivational factors inc luded: (a) looking for an opportunity to help others, (b) looking to make a difference, (c) flexibility with the position, (d) staying connected to a university, (e) looking for an opportunity to apply research, and (f) have previous 4 H experience. The thi rd objective, to describe agent s competencies when they first entered their career in Extension, was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The researcher asked respondents to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). entry competencies was the fourth objective of this study. For th is objective, the researcher asked respondents to list the top five most important competencies a new agent should possess when he/she is hired into Extension. The respondents could use either the 19 competencies listed from the previous question or contri b ute other competencies they felt were the most important. Frequencies were reported for this objective. The researcher us ed analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t tests to analyze data from the fifth objective, to determine if differences existed between agen entry competencies and selected personal characteristics of extension agents. Response Rate and Nonrespondents Response Rate A total of 224 online questionnaires were sent to the popula tion via a W eb link sent in an E mail to Florida extension agents, and four bounced back due to incorrect E mail addresses One hundred fifty two questionnaires were completed for an overall response rate of 69.09% ( n = 152).

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41 Nonresp onse Ary et al. (2006) explained that one way to reduce nonres ponse error was to compare early to late respondents. Early respondents were identified as those who completed the survey before September 23, 2009. Early and late respondents were analyzed using t tests. Table 3 1 identifies the age, gender, and major pro gram area of Extension appointment of early and late respondents. Table 3 1. Crosstabs of Selected Personal Characteristics of Early and Late Respondents Early Respondents Late Respondents f f Gender Male 24 27 Female 41 54 Age 24 35 10 16 36 45 11 13 46 55 19 28 56 or older 19 20 Major Program Area 4 H 10 24 Agriculture 14 16 ENFEP 3 1 Family and Consumer Sciences 14 14 Horticulture 17 14 Livestock 1 7 Natural Resources 1 2 Sea Grant 0 3 Table 3 2 identifies the mean and standard deviation of early and late respondents, as well as any differences between respondent s pre entry competences before entering Cooperative Extension and early and late respondents. Significant differences existed between early and late r espondents and the pre entry competencies of Program Evaluation, t (144) = 4.028, p < 0 05, and Relationship Building, t (144) = 4.274, p < 0.05. Therefore, results for the program evaluation and relationships building

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42 variables cannot be generalized to th e entire population (Linder, Murphy, & Briers, 2001). Table 3 2. Significant Differences Between Competencies and Early and Late Respondents n M SD t p Ability to Utilize Technology Early Respondents 65 3.06 1.10 2.46 0.12 Late Respondents 81 3 .20 0.90 Accountability Early Respondents 65 2.74 0.94 0.70 0.41 Late Respondents 81 2.91 0.90 Applied Research Skills Early Respondents 65 2.83 0.93 0.87 0.35 Late Respondents 81 3.01 1.11 Communication Skills Early Respo ndents 65 3.63 0.74 3.72 0.06 Late Respondents 81 3.72 0.62 Cultural Sensitivity Early Respondents 65 3.20 1.05 2.25 0.14 Late Respondents 81 3.40 0.85 Develop Extramural Funding Early Respondents 65 1.92 1.04 0.07 0.80 Late Respo ndents 80 2.39 0.97 Interpersonal Skills Early Respondents 65 3.92 0.59 1.96 0.16 Late Respondents 81 3.98 0.52 Organizational Leadership Development Early Respondents 65 3.02 0.86 0.02 0.90 Late Respondents 81 3.28 0.71 Personal Leadership Development Early Respondents 65 3.28 0.88 0.40 0.53 Late Respondents 81 3.37 0.78 Problem Solving Early Respondents 65 3.74 0.62 0.07 0.80 Late Respondents 81 3.73 0.65 Professionalism Early Respondents 65 3.77 0.72 1.49 0.22 Late Respondents 81 3.75 0.58 Program Evaluation Early Respondents 65 2.46 1.00 4.03* 0.05 Late Respondents 81 2.56 0.84

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43 Table 3 2 Continued Relationship Building Early Respondents 65 3.52 0.90 4.27* 0.04 Late Respondents 81 3.64 0.73 Self management Early Respondents 65 3.83 0.63 0.13 0.72 Late Respondents 81 3.74 0.63 Teaching Skills Early Respondents 65 3.38 0.88 0.26 0.61 Late Respondents 81 3.46 0.82 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise Early Respondents 65 3.43 0.95 2.58 0.11 Late Respondents 81 3.53 0.81 Volunteer Development Early Respondents 65 2.38 1.06 0.49 0.48 Late Respondents 81 2.60 0.97 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Note *p<.05.

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44 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Results by Objective Objective 1 The first objective was to describe selected pe rsonal characteristics of extension agents. The Florida extension agents were analyzed by the following demographics: (a) gender, (b) previous work experience in Extension, (c) previous knowledge of Extension, (d) number of years worked as an agent, (e) ag e, (f) major program area, (g) highest degree earned, and (h) field where degrees were held. Of the respondents, 33.55% ( n = 51) were male, 62.50% ( n = 95) were female, and 3.9 0 % ( n = 6) did not respond. Regarding age, 17.11% ( n = 26) reported being 24 3 5 years old, 15.79% ( n = 24) reported being 36 45 years old, 29.61% ( n = 45) reported being 46 55 years old, 25.66% ( n = 39) reported being 56 years or older, and 11.84% ( n = 18) did not respond. Of the respondents, 75.66% ( n = 115) reported never having worked in Extension in another state besides Florida, 20.39% ( n = 31) reported working in Extension in another state besides Florida, and 3.9 0 % ( n = 6) did not respond. Regarding ( n = 112) reported having previous knowledge of Extension and 22.37% ( n = 34) reported no prior knowledge of Extension before becoming an extension agent. Of the respondents reporting their number of years worked as an extension agent, 30.92% ( n = 47) rep orted having worked between 0 to 5 years, 17.11% ( n = 26) reported having worked 26 or more years, 16.45% ( n = 25) reported having worked 6 to 10 years, 13.16% ( n = 20)

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45 having worked 11 to 15 years, 11.18% ( n = 17) reported having worked 21 to 25 years, an d 5.92% ( n = 9) reported having worked 16 to 20 years. Of the respondents reporting their major program area of Extension appointment, 22.37% ( n = 34) reported 4 H, 20.39% ( n = 31) reported Horticulture, 19.74% ( n = 30) reported Agriculture, 18.42% ( n = 2 8) reported Family and Consumer Sciences, 5.26% ( n = 8) reported Livestock, 2.63% ( n = 4) reported EFNEP, 1.97% ( n = 3) reported Natural Resources, and 1.97% reported ( n = 3) Sea Grant. n = 27) rep orted having earned a b n = 105) reported having earned a m n = 11) reported having earned a Ph.D. or Ed.D. Of respondents reporting the fields(s) of their degree(s), 86.84% ( n = 132) were in the Agricultu ral and Life Sciences field, 14.47% ( n = 22) were in Liberal Arts, 6.58% ( n = 10) were in Education, 2.63% ( n = 4) were in Business, and 1.97% ( n = 3) were in other fields. Table 4 1 identifies extension agents by their selected personal characteristics. Table 4 1. Frequencies and Percentages of Selected Personal Characteristics f % N Gender Male 51 33.55% 146 Female 95 62.50% (96.05%) Age 24 35 26 17.11% 134 36 45 24 15.79% (88.16%) 46 55 45 29.61% 56 or older 39 25.66% Previ ous Work in Extension in another state Yes 31 20.39% 146 No 115 75.66% (96.05%)

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46 Table 4 1. Continued Previous Knowledge of Extension before becoming an agent Yes 112 73.68% 146 No 34 22.37% (96.05%) Number of Years Worked as an agent 0 5 47 30.92% 144 6 10 25 16.45% (94.74%) 11 15 20 13.16% 16 20 9 5.92% 21 25 17 11.18% 26 or more 26 17.11% Major Program Area of Extension Appointment 4 H 34 22.37% 141 Horticulture 31 20.39% (92.76%) Agriculture 30 19.74% Fam ily and Consumer Sciences 28 18.42% Livestock 8 5.26% EFNEP 4 2.63% Natural Resources 3 1.97% Sea Grant 3 1.97% Highest Degree Received 27 17.76% 143 105 69.08% (94.08%) Ph.D./Ed.D. 11 7.24% Fields of Degrees Held Agricultural & Life Sciences 1 32 86.84 % 138 Liberal Arts 22 14.47 % (90. 08 %) Education 10 6.58 % Business 4 2.63 % Other 3 1.97 % Note held by respondents. Objective 2 The second objective was to describe the motivational factors that influence extension agents to enter the Florida Coo perative Extension Service (FCES) The survey respondents were asked which motivational factors influenced their decision to

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47 become an agent in the FCES Over 87% ( n = 133) of respondents reported they entered the FCES for the opportunity to help others. Eighty four percent ( n = 128) reported being influenced to enter the FCES by looking to make a difference and because there wa s flexibility with the position. Over sixty six percent ( n = 101) of respondents reported they were influenced to enter Cooperative Extension due to a connection with a u niversity. The opportunity to apply research was reported by 47.37% ( n = 72) of respon dents as being influential to enter the FCES. Having previous 4 H experience was reported by 38.16% ( n = 58) of respondents as influential. Table 4 2 identifies the motivational factors of extension agents. Table 4 2. Motivational Factors of Extension Age nts f % N Opportunity to Help Others Yes 133 87.50% 149 No 16 10.53% Looking to Make a Difference Yes 128 84.21% 149 No 21 13.82% Flexibility with Position Yes 128 84.21% 148 No 20 13.16% Stay Connected with Universit y Yes 101 66.45% 149 No 48 31.58% Opportunity to Apply Research Yes 72 47.37% 149 No 77 50.66% Previous 4 H Experience Yes 58 38.16% 148 No 90 59.21%

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48 Objective 3 The third objective was to describe agent s competencies when they first entered their career in Extension. Nineteen competencies were used in order to describe eer in Extension There retained the highest means of the competencies: interpersonal skills ( M = 3.95, SD = 0.55), self management ( M = 3.78, SD = 0.62), professionalism ( M = 3.76, SD = 0.64), problem solving ( M = 3.73, SD = 0.63), and communication skills ( M = 3.68, SD = 0.67). The lowest competencies rated by extension agents were: develop extramural funding ( M = 2.18, SD = 1.02), program evaluation ( M = 2.51, SD = 0.91), and volunteer development ( M = 2.51, SD = 1.01). Table 4 3 identifies the extension agents competencies when they first entered their Extension career. Table 4 M SD Min Max Interpersonal Skills 3.95 0.55 2 5 Self management 3.78 0.62 2 5 Professionalism 3.76 0.64 2 5 Problem solving 3.73 0.63 2 5 Communication Skills (speaking and writing) 3.68 0.67 2 5 Relationship Building 3.59 0.81 1 5 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise 3.49 0.87 1 5 Teaching Skills 3.42 0.84 1 5 Personal Leadership Development 3.33 0.82 1 5 Cultural Sensitivity 3.31 0.99 1 5 Organizational Leadership Development 3.16 0.79 1 5 Ability to Utilize Technology for Program Delivery 3.14 0.99 1 5 Program Implementation 3.09 0.99 1 5 Program Planning 3.04 1.01 1 5 Applied Research Ski lls 2.93 1.03 1 5 Accountability (reporting) 2.84 0.91 1 4

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49 Table 4 3. Continued Volunteer Development 2.51 1.01 1 5 Program Evaluation 2.51 0.91 1 4 Develop Extramural Funding 2.18 1.02 1 5 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledg e/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Objective 4 ptions of necessary pre entry competencies. The survey respondents were asked what were the five most necessary pre entry competencies an extension agent should possess The most important pre entry competency reported was self management at the rate of 71 .71% ( n = 109). Other pre entry competencies perceived by respondents as being important to have were program development process (69.74%, n = 106), communication skills (56.58%, n = 86), interpersonal skills (53.95%, n = 82), technical/subject matter expe rtise (48.03%, n = 73), and teaching skills (36.18%, n = 55) The competencies program planning, program evaluation, program implementation, and program development were categorized into the competency program development process. Organizational leadersh ip development, personal leadership development, and other leadership development were categorized into the competency leadership development. Interpersonal skills was expanded to cover relationship building, cultural sensitivity, conflict resolution, and foreign language. Table 4 entry competencies. Table 4 Entry Competencies f % Self management 109 71.71% Program Development Process 106 69.74%

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50 Table 4 Entry Competencies Communication Skills 86 56.58% Interpersonal Skills 82 53.95% Technical/Subject Matter Expertise 73 48.03% Teaching Skills 55 36.18% Problem solving 29 19.08% Professionalism 29 19.08% Lead ership Development 27 17.77% Accountability 18 11.84% Ability to Utilize Technology for Program Delivery 16 10.53% Volunteer Development 14 9.21% Teamwork Skills 9 5.92% Develop Extramural Funding 5 3.29% Applied Research Skills 4 2.63% Note Thirt y responses were not reported because they did not fit the definition of a competency. Note Competencies that were similar were combined. Objective 5 entry competencies bef ore entering Cooperative Extension and selected personal characteristics of extension agents. To satisfy the fifth objective, the researcher used the statistical analyses of t tests and analysis of v ariance to report significant differences. t tests were u sed to determine if significant differences existed between entry competencies and their gender, previous Extension career outside the state of Florida, previous knowledge of Extension, and hi ghest degree held. Analysis of v ariance was use d to determine if significant differences existed between entry competencies and their age, number of years they have worked in Cooperative Extension, and program area. Each respondent answered the same questions on the same Likert like sc ale where 1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable Table 4 well as any differences between respondent s pr e entry competences before entering

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51 Cooperative Extension and gender. Both male ( M = 4.08, SD = 0.52) and female ( M = 3.88, SD = 0.56) respondents rated Interpersonal Skills as the pre entry competency in which they were most competent. No significant diff erences existed between pre entry competencies before entering Cooperative Extension and gender. Table 4 5. Significant Differences between Pre entry Competencies Before Entering n M SD t p Ability to Util ize Technology Male 51 3.31 1.01 0.62 0.43 Female 95 3.04 0.97 Accountability Male 51 2.90 0.92 0.15 0.70 Female 95 2.80 0.92 Applied Research Skills Male 51 3.31 0.88 1.71 0.19 Female 95 2.73 1.06 Communication Skills Male 51 3.65 0.77 3.99 0.48 Female 95 3.69 0.62 Cultural Sensitivity Male 51 3.31 0.95 0.01 0.91 Female 95 3.31 0.95 Develop Extramural Funding Male 51 2.29 1.06 1.17 0.28 Female 94 2.12 1.00 Interpersonal Skills M ale 51 4.08 0.52 0.21 0.65 Female 95 3.88 0.56 Organizational Leadership Development Male 51 3.12 0.79 0.21 0.65 Female 95 3.19 0.80 Personal Leadership Development Male 51 3.33 0.84 0.06 0.81 Female 95 3.33 0.82 Problem Solvin g Male 51 3.82 0.62 0.53 0.47 Female 95 3.68 0.64

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52 Table 4 5. Continued Professionalism Male 51 3.82 0.62 0.30 0.59 Female 95 3.73 0.64 Program Evaluation Male 51 2.53 0.90 0.09 0.76 Female 95 2.51 0.92 Program Implement ation Male 51 3.04 1.02 0.79 0.78 Female 95 3.12 0.99 Program Planning Male 50 2.96 1.03 0.43 0.51 Female 95 3.08 1.01 Relationship Building Male 51 3.65 1.03 0.37 0.55 Female 95 3.56 1.01 Self management Male 51 3.71 0.67 2.33 0.13 Female 94 3.82 0.60 Teaching Skills Male 51 3.31 0.86 0.00 0.97 Female 94 3.48 0.84 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise Male 51 3.65 0.84 0.35 0.56 Female 95 3.40 0.88 Volunteer Development Male 51 2.7 1 1.03 0.03 0.87 Female 95 2.40 0.99 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very c ompetent and 5 = Not applicable ). Table 4 Extension work in another state besides Florida, as well any relationship between entry competences before entering Coopera tive Extension and their previous Extension career. Interpersonal Skills was reported as the pre entry competency respondents were most competent in regardless of experience working in other states. No significant differe nces existed between respondent s p re entry competencies and their previous Extension work in other states.

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53 Table 4 6. Significant Differences between Pre Having Worked in Extension in Another State Besides Florida n M SD t p Ability to Utilize Techno logy Yes 31 2.06 1.06 0.32 0.57 No 115 3.16 0.98 Accountability Yes 31 2.84 0.82 1.11 0.29 No 115 2.83 0.95 Applied Research Skills Yes 31 3.06 1.12 0.61 0.44 No 115 2.90 1.01 Communication Skills Yes 31 3.48 0.68 0.88 0.35 No 115 3.73 0.67 Cultural Sensitivity Yes 31 3.35 0.95 0.10 0.76 No 115 3.30 0.95 Develop Extramural Funding Yes 31 2.10 0.94 1.35 0.25 No 114 2.20 1.05 Interpersonal Skills Yes 31 3.90 0.47 0.10 0.76 No 115 3.97 0.58 Organizational Leadership Development Yes 31 3.03 0.86 0.18 0.67 No 115 3.20 0.78 Personal Leadership Development Yes 31 2.23 0.96 1.32 0.25 No 115 3.36 0.79 Problem Solving Yes 31 3.65 0.71 1.52 0.22 No 115 3 .76 0.62 Professionalism Yes 31 3.55 0.68 3.27 0.07 No 115 3.82 0.63 Program Evaluation Yes 31 2.61 0.88 2.8 0.60 No 115 2.49 0.92 Program Implementation Yes 31 2.13 0.92 0.23 0.63 No 115 3.08 1.02 Program Planning Yes 31 2.94 0.96 1.23 0.27 No 114 3.07 1.03

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54 Table 4 6. Continued Relationship Building Yes 31 3.48 0.81 0.08 0.78 No 115 3.62 0.81 Self management Yes 31 3.65 0.66 1.02 0.32 No 114 3.82 0.62 Teaching Skills Yes 30 3.30 0.95 0.72 0.40 No 115 3.45 0.82 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise Yes 31 3.52 0.93 0.01 0.96 No 115 3.48 0.86 Volunteer Development Yes 31 2.61 1.12 0.29 0.59 No 115 2.48 0.99 Note Respondents were asked to rate their le vel of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Table 4 7 identifies the mean and standard deviat knowledge of Extension, as well any relationship between respondent s pre entry competences before entering Cooperative Extension and their previous knowledge of Extension. Interpersonal Skills was reported as the pre entry com petency respondents were most competent in regardless of previous knowledge of Extension. No significant entry competencies and their previous knowledge of Extension. Table 4 7. Significant Differences between P re Previous Knowledge of Extension Before Entering Cooperative Extension n M SD t p Ability to Utilize Technology Yes 112 3.17 0.96 0.65 0.42 No 34 3.03 1.11 Accountability Yes 112 2.77 0.90 0.12 0 .73 No 34 3.06 0.95

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55 Table 4 7. Continued Applied Research Skills Yes 112 2.93 1.05 0.00 0.99 No 34 2.94 1.01 Communication Skills Yes 112 3.68 0.66 0.49 0.49 No 34 3.68 0.73 Cultural Sensitivity Yes 112 3.32 0.92 0.26 0 .61 No 34 3.26 1.02 Develop Extramural Funding Yes 112 2.22 1.03 0.01 0.92 No 34 2.06 1.01 Interpersonal Skills Yes 112 3.96 0.54 0.95 0.33 No 34 3.91 0.62 Organizational Leadership Development Yes 112 3.13 0.77 1.29 0.2 6 No 34 3.26 0.90 Personal Leadership Development Yes 112 3.28 0.81 0.91 0.34 No 34 3.50 0.86 Problem Solving Yes 112 3.72 0.62 0.02 0.90 No 34 3.76 0.70 Professionalism Yes 112 3.74 0.60 0.47 0.49 No 34 3.82 0.80 P rogram Evaluation Yes 112 2.46 0.89 0.51 0.48 No 34 2.68 0.98 Program Implementation Yes 112 3.04 1.00 0.01 0.95 No 34 3.24 0.99 Program Planning Yes 111 3.01 1.02 0.04 0.85 No 34 3.15 0.99 Relationship Building Y es 112 3.60 0.79 1.31 0.25 No 34 3.56 0.89 Self management Yes 111 3.78 0.59 1.92 0.17 No 34 3.76 0.74

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56 Table 4 7. Continued Teaching Skills Yes 111 3.45 0.82 0.58 0.45 No 34 3.32 0.95 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise Yes 112 3.57 0.78 3.72 0.06 No 34 3.21 1.10 Volunteer Development Yes 112 2.50 0.97 3.62 0.06 No 34 2.53 1.61 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Table 4 degree held, as well any relationship between responden t s pre entry competences before entering Cooperative Extension and their highest degree held. Respondents who egree as their highest degree received rated Self management ( M = 4.74) as the pre entry competency in which they were most compe tent. Respondents who reported post graduate d egree as their highest degree received rated Interpersonal Skills ( M = 3.97) as the pre entry competency they were most competent in. Significant d and the pre entry competencies of Interpersonal Skills, t (141) = 4.78, p < 0.05; Self management, t (140) = 7.63, p < 0.05; and Teaching Skills, t (140) = 3.89, p < 0.05. Table 4 8. Significant Differences between Pre entry Highest Degree Received n M SD t p Ability to Utilize Technology 27 3.11 0.93 0.49 0.49 Post graduate 116 3.14 1.02 Accountability 27 2.67 0.96 0.21 0.65 Post graduate 116 2.87 0.91

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57 Table 4 8. Continued Ap plied Research Skills 27 2.74 1.02 0.07 0.79 Post graduate 116 2.95 1.03 Communication Skills 27 3.70 0.67 0.26 0.61 Post graduate 116 3.69 0.68 Cultural Sensitivity 27 3.19 1.15 2.31 0.13 P ost graduate 116 3.34 0.90 Develop Extramural Funding 27 2.19 1.10 0.13 0.72 Post graduate 116 2.16 1.01 Interpersonal Skills 27 3.93 0.68 4.78* 0.03 Post graduate 116 3.97 0.53 Organizational Leadership Dev elopment 27 3.19 0.79 0.18 0.67 Post graduate 116 3.16 0.81 Personal Leadership Development 27 3.30 0.91 0.21 0.64 Post graduate 116 3.34 0.81 Problem Solving 27 3.81 0.68 0.22 0.64 Post gra duate 116 3.72 0.63 Professionalism 27 3.81 0.56 2.09 0.15 Post graduate 116 3.75 0.67 Program Evaluation 27 2.41 1.01 1.41 0.24 Post graduate 116 2.52 0.89 Program Implementation 27 3.07 1 .04 0.12 0.74 Post graduate 116 3.09 1.00 Program Planning 27 3.19 1.02 0.02 0.88 Post graduate 116 3.01 1.03 Relationship Building 27 3.70 0.82 0.04 0.84 Post graduate 116 3.55 0.82 Self management 27 4.04 0.52 7.63* 0.01 Post graduate 115 3.73 0.64

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58 Table 4 8. Continued Teaching Skills 27 3.52 1.09 3.89* 0.05 Post graduate 115 3.40 0.79 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise 27 3.44 0.89 0.01 0.9 4 Post graduate 116 3.50 0.88 Volunteer Development 27 2.59 1.01 0.13 0.72 Post graduate 116 2.49 1.03 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type sc ale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Note *p<.05. Table 4 entry competencies before entering Coopera tive Extension and their age. There was a significant difference between the age of respondents and the pre entry competencies of Ability to Utilize Technology, F (3, 132) = 4.52, p < 0.05, and Technical/Subject Matter Expertise, F (3,132) = 2.97, p < 0.05 Table 4 n M SD F p Ability to Utilize Technology 24 35 26 3.69 0.55 4.52* 0.05 36 45 24 3.13 0.80 46 55 47 3.11 1.03 56 or older 39 2.79 1.17 Accountability 24 35 26 2.62 0.90 0.58 0.63 36 45 24 2.79 0.78 46 55 47 2.87 0.95 56 or older 39 2.90 0.97 Applied Research Skills 24 35 26 3.00 1.02 0.23 0.86 36 45 24 2.79 1.02 46 55 47 2.96 1.16 56 or older 39 3.00 0.95

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59 Table 4 9. Continued Communication Skills 24 35 26 3.73 0.60 0.86 0.47 36 45 24 3.67 0.64 46 55 47 3.72 0.74 56 or older 39 3.51 0.64 Cultural Sensitivity 24 35 26 3.23 0.82 0.48 0.70 36 45 24 3.38 0.86 46 55 47 3.34 0.96 56 or ol der 39 3.13 1.08 Develop Extramural Funding 24 35 25 2.36 1.19 2.14 0.10 36 45 24 2.13 1.04 46 55 47 2.30 0.95 56 or older 39 1.82 0.89 Interpersonal Skills 24 35 26 3.85 0.54 1.02 0.39 36 45 24 4.08 0.41 46 55 47 3.96 0 .59 56 or older 39 3.87 0.57 Organizational Leadership Development 24 35 26 3.19 0.57 0.84 0.48 36 45 24 3.29 0.91 46 55 47 3.21 0.72 56 or older 39 3.00 0.92 Personal Leadership Development 24 35 26 3.35 0.85 0.31 0.82 36 45 24 3.46 0.72 46 55 47 3.28 0.80 56 or older 39 3.32 0.89 Problem Solving 24 35 26 3.62 0.64 0.94 0.42 36 45 24 3.75 0.68 46 55 47 3.83 0.64 56 or older 39 3.64 0.58 Professionalism 24 35 26 3.58 0.64 0.83 0.48 36 45 24 3.83 0.64 46 55 47 3.79 0.69 56 or older 39 3.74 0.55

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60 Table 4 9. Continued Program Evaluation 24 35 26 2.35 0.98 1.08 0.36 36 45 24 2.38 0.97 46 55 47 2.66 0.94 56 or older 39 2.38 0.71 Program Implementation 24 35 26 2.65 0.94 2.01 0.12 36 45 24 3.04 1.04 46 55 47 3.19 0.88 56 or older 39 3.18 1.05 Program Planning 24 35 26 2.65 1.02 1.51 0.22 36 45 24 3.04 0.96 46 55 46 3.13 0.91 56 or older 39 3.02 1.11 Relationship Building 24 35 26 3.62 0.68 0.09 0.97 36 45 24 3.50 0.83 46 55 47 3.55 0.86 56 or older 39 3.54 0.79 Self management 24 35 26 3.88 0.52 0.69 0.56 36 45 24 3.83 0.76 46 55 47 3.72 0.62 56 or older 39 3.68 0.62 Teaching Skills 24 35 26 3.12 0.95 2.15 0.10 36 45 24 3.38 0.88 46 55 47 3.62 0.74 56 or older 38 3.32 0.87 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise 24 35 26 3.12 0.86 2.97* 0.03 36 45 24 3.29 0.99 46 55 47 3.60 0.95 56 or older 39 3.69 0.6 6 Volunteer Development 24 35 26 2.50 1.14 0.01 0.99 36 45 24 2.54 1.06 46 55 47 2.51 0.88 56 or older 39 2.54 1.07 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Note *p<.05.

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61 Table 4 10 identifies the differences entry competencies before entering Cooperati ve Extension and the number of years they have worked as an extension agent. There was a significant difference in competence between the number of years worked as an extension agent and the pre entry competencies of Ability to Utilize Technology, F (2,141 ) = 8.96, p < 0.05; Applied Research Skills, F (2,141) = 5.30, p < 0.05; Communication Skills, F (2,141) = 4.50, p < 0.05; Develop Extramural Funding, F (1,141) = 3.15, p < 0.05; Organization Leadership Development, F (1,141) = 4.37, p < 0.05; Personal Lea dership Development, F (1,141) = 5.24, p < 0.05, and; Problem solving, F (1,141) = 3.59, p < 0.05. Table 4 of Years Worked as an Extension Agent n M SD F p Ability to Utilize Tech nology 0 5 48 3.60 0.71 8.96* 0.01 6 15 44 2.91 0.96 16 or more 52 2.88 1.11 Accountability 0 5 48 2.96 0.85 0.78 0.46 6 15 44 2.91 1.04 16 or more 52 2.88 0.87 Applied Research Skills 0 5 48 3.31 0.97 5.30* 0.01 6 15 44 2.66 0.96 16 or more 52 2.85 1.06 Communication Skills 0 5 48 3.79 0.68 4.50* 0.01 6 15 44 3.82 0.54 16 or more 52 3.46 0.73 Cultural Sensitivity 0 5 48 3.50 0.74 2.09 0.13 6 15 44 3.32 1.01 16 or more 52 3.12 1.0 4 Develop Extramural Funding 0 5 47 2.47 1.12 3.15* 0.05 6 15 44 2.09 1.01 16 or more 52 1.98 0.87

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62 Table 4 10. Continued Interpersonal Skills 0 5 48 3.96 0.62 0.54 0.58 6 15 44 4.00 0.43 16 or more 52 2.88 0.58 Organizat ional Leadership Development 0 5 48 3.31 0.69 4.37* 0.01 6 15 44 3.30 0.82 16 or more 52 2.90 0.82 Personal Leadership Development 0 5 48 3.50 0.72 5.24* 0.01 6 15 44 3.48 0.82 16 or more 52 3.04 0.86 Problem Solving 0 5 48 3.83 0.60 3.59* 0.03 6 15 44 3.82 0.62 16 or more 52 3.54 0.64 Professionalism 0 5 48 3.88 0.57 2.63 0.08 6 15 44 3.82 0.58 16 or more 52 3.60 0.75 Program Evaluation 0 5 48 2.54 0.94 0.02 0.98 6 15 44 2.50 0.90 16 or more 52 2.52 0.90 Program Implementation 0 5 48 3.00 0.99 2.01 0.13 6 15 44 3.34 0.94 16 or more 52 2.96 1.03 Program Planning 0 5 47 2.96 1.00 1.91 0.15 6 15 44 3.30 0.95 16 or more 52 2.92 1.06 Relationship Build ing 0 5 48 3.77 0.63 2.95 0.06 6 15 44 3.59 0.82 16 or more 52 3.38 0.91 Self management 0 5 48 3.85 0.54 2.16 0.12 6 15 43 3.86 0.60 16 or more 52 3.63 0.69 Teaching Skills 0 5 48 3.40 0.87 0.50 0.61 6 15 44 3.52 0 .76 16 or more 51 3.35 0.91

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63 Table 4 10. Continued Technical/Subject Matter Expertise 0 5 48 3.48 0.85 0.04 0.97 6 15 44 3.48 0.95 16 or more 52 3.52 0.85 Volunteer Development 0 5 48 2.60 0.98 1.23 0.30 6 15 44 2.64 1.12 16 or more 52 2.35 0.93 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Note p <.05. Note ** p <.01. Table 4 entry competencies before entering Cooperative Extension and their major program Area. There was a significant difference between the major program area of respondents an d the pre entry competencies of: Ability to Utilize Technology, F (3,134) = 3.20, p < 0.05; Applied Research Skills, F (3,134) = 6.01, p < 0.05; Communication Skills, F (3,134) = 3.71, p < 0.05; Professionalism, F (3,134) = 3 .14, p < 0.05; and Teaching Skills, F (3,133) = 3.64, p < 0.05. Table 4 11. Significant Differences between Pre entry Major Program Area n M SD F p Ability to Utilize Technology 4 H 34 3.21 0.77 3.25* 0.02 FCS/EF NEP 32 2.69 1.09 Horticulture 31 3.10 1.08 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.39 0.95 Accountability 4 H 34 2.91 0.87 0.66 0.58 FCS/EFNEP 32 2.97 0.74 Horticulture 31 2.81 1.08 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 4 1 2.68 1.01

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64 Table 4 11. Continued Applied Research Skills 4 H 34 2.47 1.02 6.10* 0.01 FCS/EFNEP 32 2.69 1.00 Horticulture 31 3.19 0.98 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.32 0.91 Communication Skills 4 H 34 3.91 0.5 1 3.41* 0.02 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.72 0.58 Horticulture 31 3.74 0.68 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.44 0.78 Cultural Sensitivity 4 H 34 3.65 0.58 2.69* 0.05 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.41 0.91 Horticulture 31 3.06 1.09 Agriculture/N atural Resources/Livestock 41 3.17 1.00 Develop Extramural Funding 4 H 34 2.41 0.96 2.74* 0.05 FCS/EFNEP 32 1.84 1.02 Horticulture 30 1.93 1.02 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 2.34 1.02 Interpersonal Skills 4 H 34 3 .91 0.62 0.19 0.90 FCS/EFNEP 32 4.00 0.44 Horticulture 31 4.00 0.58 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.95 0.59 Organizational Leadership Development 4 H 34 3.29 0.76 0.83 0.48 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.31 0.78 Horticulture 31 3.06 0.77 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.12 0.81 Personal Leadership Development 4 H 34 3.53 0.83 0.99 0.40 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.41 0.84 Horticulture 31 3.23 0.72 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.27 0.84 Problem So lving 4 H 34 3.71 0.63 0.97 0.41 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.56 0.76 Horticulture 31 3.77 0.62 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.80 0.56

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65 Table 4 11. Continued Professionalism 4 H 34 3.56 0.75 2.72* 0.05 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.88 0.49 Horticulture 31 3.97 0.55 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.71 0.68 Program Evaluation 4 H 34 2.62 1.05 0.32 0.81 FCS/EFNEP 32 2.59 0.76 Horticulture 31 2.42 1.12 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 2.49 0.81 Program Implementation 4 H 34 3.18 1.00 0.14 0.94 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.16 0.85 Horticulture 31 3.06 1.15 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.05 1.05 Program Planning 4 H 34 3.24 0.99 0.87 0.46 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.13 0.94 Hort iculture 31 2.84 1.13 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 40 3.03 1.05 Relationship Building 4 H 34 3.71 0.76 0.39 0.76 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.50 0.84 Horticulture 31 3.58 0.85 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.63 0.77 Sel f management 4 H 33 3.85 0.67 0.41 0.75 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.78 0.66 Horticulture 31 3.77 0.67 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.68 0.61 Teaching Skills 4 H 34 3.44 0.86 3.50* 0.02 FCS/EFNEP 31 3.74 0.63 Horticulture 3 1 3.52 0.81 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.12 0.93 Technical/Subject Matter Expertise 4 H 34 3.32 0.91 0.62 0.61 FCS/EFNEP 32 3.53 0.72 Horticulture 31 3.58 1.03 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 3.54 0.75

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66 Table 4 11. Continued Volunteer Development 4 H 34 2.56 0.93 0.46 0.71 FCS/EFNEP 32 2.47 1.19 Horticulture 31 2.39 0.99 Agriculture/Natural Resources/Livestock 41 2.66 0.99 Note Respondents were asked to rate their level of knowledge/ skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Note p <.05. Note ** p <.01.

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67 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECO MMENDAT IONS Summary It is important to focus attention on the pre entry competencies of new organization members and to identify the competencies needed by extension agents to determine adequate education curricula, training, and retention (Arnold, 2007; Harder, Place, & Sheer, 2009 ; Wanous, 1980). The Professional Development Model comprises three stages: Entry, Colleague, and Counselor and Advisor (Kutilek et al., 2002). Each stage possesses distinct motivators and organizational strategies which enable the emp loyee and organization to maximize their full potential. However, The Professional Development Model solely focuses on the stages of extension agents currently in the Extension organization, disregarding the motivational factors and pre entry competencies of agents entering Extension. This study was an ex post facto design using survey methodology to examine the motivational factors and pre entry competencies of Florida extension agents. Descriptive statistics including central tendencies and frequencies, t tests, and analysis of variance were used to satisfy the objectives of this study. Conclusions and Implications Objective 1 The first objective was to describe selected personal characteristics of Florida extension agents. The selected personal character istics observed in this study were: (a) gender, (b) age, (c) previous work in Extension outside the state of Florida, (d) previous knowledge of Extension, (e) number of years worked as an agent, (f) major program area of Extension appointment, (g) highest degree received, and (h) fields of degrees

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68 held by agents. Selected personal characteristics were analyzed by descriptive statistics. The majority of respondents were female and over the age of 35. Most respondents have worked in Extension for less than 10 years and more than 15 years. that the majority of agents worked in 4 H, horticulture, agriculture, and family and consumer sciences. The majority of respondents held a gradu ate degree. Respondents held degrees in the fields of agricultural and life sciences, liberal arts, education, health/foods, and business. The findings of this study suggest there are many differences and concerns regarding the selected personal characte ristics of Florida extension agents. One concern is that there is almost double the number of female extension agents than male extension agents. Research is needed to make certain that this disparity is not having a negative effect in Extension Another concern is the disparity regarding the number of years agents have worked in Extension. Over 30 percent of extension agents have worked for five years or less. Furthermore, less than six percent of extension agents have worked in Extension between 16 20 ye ars. Arnold (2007) explained that for Extension to continue to play a vital role in our society it must be able to retain long term agents. Therefore, Florida Cooperative Extension must find methods to retain agents for longer periods of time. Objective 2 The second objective was to describe the motivational factors that influence Florida extension agents to enter the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (FCES). The motivational factors observed in this study were: (a) looking for an opportunity to help o thers, (b) looking to make a difference, (c) flexibility with the position, (d) staying

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69 connected to a university, (e) looking for an opportunity to apply research, and (f) have previous 4 H experience. Motivational factors were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Each motivational factor was iden tified by respondents as being motivational to enter into a career in Extension. The motivational factors of looking to make a difference and flexibility with the position were the most motivational. Having pr evious 4 H experience was motivational even though respondents indicated it to be the least motivational factor. The findings of this study are similar to those of Arnold (2006) and NASULGC (2007). The implication for this objective is that Extension adm inistration should increase their attention on the recruiting practices of extension agents. The majority of Florida extension agents are motivated to enter Extension by many factors. However, there is a high turnover rate among extension agents. These fac tors should be examined more in depth to make certain that agents entering Extension are going to stay for a longer term of employment. Objective 3 their career in Extension. The competencies observed in this study were: (a) able to utilize technology for program delivery, (b) accountability, (c) applied research skills, (d) communication skills including speaking and writing skills, (e) cultural sensitivity, (f) develop extra mural funding, (g) interpersonal skills, (h) organizational leadership development, (i) personal leadership development, (j) problem solving, (k) professionalism, (l) program evaluation, (m) program implementation, (n) program planning, (o) relationship bu ilding, (p) self management, (q) teaching skills, (r) technical/subject matter expertise, and (s) volunteer development. Respondents were

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70 asked to rate their level of knowledge/skill before entering Cooperative Extension on a Likert type scale (1 = Not at all competent 2 = Slightly competent 3 = Somewhat competent 4 = Very competent and 5 = Not applicable ). Competencies were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The competences wi th the largest mean score were i nterpersonal skills, self management, p rofessionalism, problem solving, and communication skills. Develop ing extramural funding, program evaluation, and volunteer development were the competencies with the lowest mean scores. The competencies needed by extension agents identified by Beeman et al. (1979), Cooper and Graham (2001), Gonzalez (1982), and Keita and Luft (1987) were: (a) program planning, (b) research skills, (c) professionalism, (d) staying up to date with information, (e) interpersonal skills, (f) program implementation, (g) progr am evaluation, scores of pre entry competencies, Florida extension agents entering the Extension profession are lacking the competencies of research skills and program eva luation. Additional competencies reported by Harder et al. (2009) that current Florida extension agents are lacking when entering their Extension career are accountability, volunteer development, and developing extramural funding. The implication for this objective is that Extension administration in charge of training new extension agents should focus training on the competencies needed by new extension agents. New employees cannot be successful in their job if they are not given the tools to be successfu l.

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71 Objective 4 entry entry competencies were analyzed using frequenci es. Respondents identified five competencies not mentioned f rom the third ob jective : (a) teamwork skills (b) program development (c) conflict resolution, (d) other leadership development, and (e) foreign language. The competency that was reported the most amount of times was self management. Other competencies re ported as necessary for extension agents to possess were: communication skills, technical/subject matter expertise, and teaching skills. Competencies least reported as necessary for extension agents to possess were: develop ing extramural funding, applied r esearch skills, and personal leadership development. Program planning, research skills, professionalism, staying up to date with information, interpersonal skills, program implementation, program evaluation, communication skills, and teaching skills were competencies needed by extension agents to be successful ( Beeman, et al., 1979; Cooper & Graham, 2001; Gonzalez, 1982; Keita & entry competencies, only research skills were not cited by respondents as necessary. Furthermore, the pre entry competency listed by respondents as most necessary was self management. Self management was identified as necessary by Herder et al., but not by Beeman et al. (1979), Gonzalez (1982), Keita and Luft (19 87), and Cooper and Graham (2001). Harder et al. (2009) indicated that all nineteen pre entry competencies were necessary for new extension agents to possess. Respondents did not deem cultural sensitivity, developing extramural funding, applied research skills, and leadership

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72 development as necessary for new agents to possess. In addit ion, respondents identified four competencies that Harder et al. (2009) did not identify as necessary: teamwork skills, conflict resolution, leadership development, and fore ign language. The implication for Extension is that the perception of necessary pre entry competencies needed by new extension agents vary among extension agents and Extension administration. This discrepancy indicates the need for increased collaboratio n between county faculty and administration. Also, instructors and professors in the fields of agricultural and extension education should focus their attention on the necessary pre entry competencies as well. Although not all extension agents have an educ ational background in agricultural and extension education, those who do would benefit from increase d formal education in these competency areas. Objective 5 entry competenc ies before entering Cooperative Extension and selected personal entry competencies and selected personal characteristics were analyzed by t tests and analysis of variance. There were n o significant relationships between pre entry competencies and the selected personal characteristics of gender, previous work experience in Extension outside the state of Florida, and previous knowledge of Extension. received, there were significant differences between pre entry competencies and interpersonal skills, self management, and teaching skills. The age of respondents revealed significant differences with the pre entry competencies of the ability to utilize t echnology and tech nical/subject matter

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73 expertise. The number of years respondents hav e worked as an extension agent revealed significant differences with pre entry competencies of the ability to utilize technology, applied research skills, communication sk ills, develop extramural funding, organizational leadership development, personal leadership development, and problem solving. The major program area of Extension appointment revealed significant differences with the ability to utilize technology, applied research skills, communication skills, cultural sensitivity, develop ing extramural funding, professionalism, and teaching skills. The findings of this objective provide insight into the varying needs of Florida extension agents across most of the select ed perso nal characteristics. The number of years worked in E xtension and major program area represent the personal characteristics that need the most attention. Pre entry trainings and in service trainings should be focused on the specific needs of extensi on agents by these characteristics. There are many competencies that are needed by new extension agents. Instructors, professors, and personnel in charge of agent training should increase their attention on the lack of pre entry competencies. Recruiters an d personnel involved in the hiring process need to increase their pre entry competencies. Implications for the Professional Development Model The Professional Development Model outlined the three career stages of an exten sion agent (Kutilek et al., 2002). Rennekamp and Nall (1994) explained that for an agent to move to the next career stage it is essential the agent attains and develops the necessary competencies to do so. The agent that does not gain or develop the approp riate competencies for their current career stage is likely to not advance to the

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74 next career stage or will move to a different job (Rennekamp & Nall). However, the Professional Development Model overlooks whether or not a newly hired extension agent has t he appropriate pre entry competencies to begin a career in Extension. Possessing the appropriate competencies to begin a career is just as important to developing the appropr iate competencies to continue a career. To progress to the Entry Stage of the Professional Development Model extension agents should have an appropriate skill set bef ore entering their career. Based upon this conclusion and the results from this study, a new stage should be added to the Professional Development Model Table 5 1 Professional Development Model Modified to Reflect the Pre Entry Stage Career Stage Motivat ors Organizational Strategies Pre entry Stage* Motivational factors: Agent background, career contacts, service to agricultural community, nature of extension work, position fit, connection to university, opportunity to apply research, previous 4 H experi ence, and; Pre entry competencies needed: Self management, program development process, communication skills, interpersonal skills, technical/subject matter expertise, and teaching skills. Pre service examination of competencies before entering the Extensi on organization, and; Pre service training before starting the job.

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75 Table 5 1 Continued Entry Stage Understanding the organization, structure, and culture; Obtaining essential skills to perform job; Establishing linkages with internal partners; Exercisi ng creativity and initiative, and; Moving from dependence to independence. Peer mentoring program; Professional support teams; Leadership coaching, and; Orientation/job training. Colleague Stage Developing area of expertise; Professional development fundi ng; Becoming an independent contributor in problem resolution; Gaining membership and identity in professional community; Expanding creativity and innovation, and; Moving from independence to interdependence. In service education; Specialization funds; Pro fessional association involvement; Formal educational training, and; Service on committees or special assignments. Counselor and Advisor Stages Acquiring a broad based expertise; Attaining leadership positions; Engaging in organizational problem solving ; Counseling/coaching other professionals; Facilitating self renewal, and; Achieving a position of influence and stimulating thought in others. Life and career renewal retreats; Mentoring and trainer agent roles; Assessment center for leadership, and; Orga nizational sounding boards. Note *Reflects the new stage to be included in the Professional Development Model. The motivators for the Pre entry Stage are the motivational factors of agents to enter Extension and the Pre entry competencies necessary f or new extension agents. The motivational factors include a gent background, career contacts, service to the agricultural community, nature of extension work, position fit, connection to a university, opportunity to apply research, previous 4 H experience Arnold (2007), NASULGC (2007), and the results from this study suggest these eight factors are influential for agents to enter Extension. Administrators and E xtension personnel responsible for

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76 recruiting extension agents should use these motivational facto rs as tools to recruit new agents. The pre entry competencies are s elf management, program development process, communication skills, interpersonal skills, technical/subject matter expertise, and teaching skills These competencies directly reflect the pe rceived competencies needed for new agents by current extension agents from the competencies identified by Harder et al. (2009). Administrators and E xtension personnel responsible for hiring and training new extension agents should used these competencie s as a foundation for hiring and training practices. The organizational strategies for the Pre entry Stage are a pre service examination of competencies before entering the Extension organization and pre service training before starting the job. A pre serv ice examination of competencies provides Extension administration insight into the knowledge and skill set of potential candidates. Extension should hire candidates with the most complete set of competencies entering the organization. Pre service training is necessary to ensure that agents are capable of doing their job before entering the organization. Recommendations for Future Research A study should be conducted to determine what effect, if any, of the gender discrepancy of Florida extension agents. In order to address the discrepancies of age and the long term retention of Florida extension agents, an in depth analysis is needed to understand why agents leave the Extension organization within their first ten years in the profession. This study focused o n the pre entry competencies of Florida extension agents. Another study should be conducted on whether or not the competencies Florida extension agents are not competent in are being taught in new agent and in service trainings.

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77 A qualitative study should be conducted in order to find out the specific reasons why certain pre entry competencies were identified as necessary by Florida extension agents Research should be conducted in other states to identify the pre entry competencies of extension agents in th A study should be conducted on the competencies that extension agents have in relation to their specific career stage. Research should be conducted on the advantages of using the Professional Development Model for recrui ting, hiring, and training new extension agents Recommendations for Practitioners Based on the findings of this study, the recommendations for pract itioner s include: Build upon the competencies that new extension agents possess when entering the Extensio n organization. New agent and in service trainings should focus on the developing the competencies new agents are not competent in identified by respondents in this study. In service trainings are needed amongst many of the pre entry competencies examined in the study. Florida extension agents, with their respective age, number of years worked in Extension, highest degree received, and major program area require training concentrating on the competencies lacking by these groups. Focus on the recruiting an d hiring practices of Florida extension agents. The motivational factors and pre entry competencies identified in study by current Florida extension agents should be instrumental in these practices. Implementing these new practices are essential for the lo ng term retention of new agents. Practitioners should utilize the modified Professional Development Model when recruiting and training new agents. Applicants pursuing a career in Cooperative Extension should be aware of the necessary pre entry competencies a new agent should possess. Having the competencies necessary when beginning a career will help a new extension agent be successful. Instructors, professors, and others who teach extension education should be aware of the necessary pre entry competencies identified by this study. Classes should be developed around the competencies needed by new extension agents to be successful.

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78 APPENDIX A IRB APPLICATION

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80 APPENDIX B IRB APPROVAL AND INFORMED CONSENT

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83 APPENDIX C QUESTIONNAIRE

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90 APPENDIX D INITIAL CONTACT E MAIL Dear Florida Extension A gent, I am researching the pre entry competencies and career decisions of Florida extension agents. Below you will find a link for the questionnair e, along with a password you will need to access the questionnaire. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the survey. Once again, your participation in completing t he assessment is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a better understanding of the pre entry competencies and career decisions of Florida extension agents. Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yKl5CHsb2o_2fI_2b6Oosd872w_3d_3d Password: floridaagents Sincerely, Matt Benge Graduate Student, Alachua County 4 H Youth Development Agent

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91 APPENDIX E REMINDER E MAIL Dear Florida Extension Agent, I wa nted to take this opportunity to thank you for participating in my research and encourage you to complete the questionnaire if you have not already done so. To the best of my knowledge, it has not been completed. Your participation in the study is very imp ortant to the success of this study. As mentioned previously, the questions should only take 10 15 minutes to complete. Below you will find the link for the pre entry competencies survey In addition I have included the password you will need to access t he survey. Please feel free to contact me at mbenge@alachuacounty.us if you have any questions regarding the survey. Link: http: //www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=DPZ4u5ACKT44N2CQdZyYXA_3d_3d Password: floridaagents Once again, your participation in completing the assessment is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a better understanding of the pre entry competencies and career decisio ns of Florida extension agents. Sincerely, Matt Benge Graduate Student, Alachua County 4 H Youth Development Agent

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92 APPENDIX F FINAL CONTACE E MAIL Dear Florida Extension Agent, Recently you should have received a link to my Web based survey. I am trying to assess pre entry competencies and career decisions of Florida extension agents. Your participation in this survey is vital for the success of this study. If you have not had a chance to complete the survey I would ask you to please take time to do so. Below you will find the link for the pre entry competencies s urvey. In addition I have included the password you will need to access the survey. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the survey. Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=djLbA08A5Y_2bG8UAt_2ft_2fupA_3d_3d Password: floridaagents Once again, your participation in completing the asse ssment is greatly appreciated. You are helping to develop a better understanding of the pre entry competencies and career decisio ns of Florida extension agents. Sincerely, Matt Benge Graduate Student, Alachua County 4 H Youth Development Agent

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93 LIST OF REFERENCES Arnold, S. K. (2008 ). Career decisions of Florida agricultural extension agents. Dissertation Abstracts International, 68(9). (UMI No.3281495) Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Razavieh, A., & Sorensen, C. (2006). Introduction to research in education (7th ed.). Australia: Thompson Wadsworth. Bartlett, J. E. II, Kotrlik, J. W., & Higgins, C. C. (2001). Organizational research: Determining appropriated sample size in survey research. Information Technology, Learning, and Performance Journal 19 (1). Beeman, C. E., Cheek, J. G., McGhee, M. B., & Gregotis, E. M. (1979). Professional competencies needed by extension agents in the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 182451) Chandler, G. D. (2005). Or ganizational and individual factors related to retention of county extension agents employed by Texas Cooperative Extension. Dissertation Abstracts International, 65 (12), 4432A. (UMI No.3157047) Cooper, A. W., & Graham, D. L. (2001). Competencies needed to be successful county agents and county supervisors. Journal of Extension, 39 (1). Dillman, D. A. (2007). Mail and internet surveys: The tailored design method (2nd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., & Christian, L. M. (2009). Internet, mail, and mixed mode surveys: The tailored design method (3rd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Extension Committee on Organization and Policy. (2002). The ex tension system: A vision for the 21st cen tury, a resource document. Retrieved January 30, 2008, from http://www.nasulgc.org/publications/Agriculture/ECOP2002_Vison_ Resources.pd f Ensle, K. M. (2005). Burnout: How does extension balance job and family? Journal of Extension, 43 (3). Fetsch, R J., & Pergola, J. (1991). Effective burnout prevention program. Journal of Extension, 29 (4). Gonzalez, I. M. (1982). The professional competencies needed by extension agents in the Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension Service Unpublished doctoral dis sertation, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park. Griffeth, R. W., & Hom, P. W. (2001). Retaining valued employees Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

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94 Harder, Place, & Sheer. (2009). Towards a competency based extension education curriculum: A delphi study Manuscript submitted for publication. Harris, J. I., Minskowski, A. M., & Enhdahl, B. E. (2007, December). Types of workplace social support in the prediction of job satisfaction. The Career Development Quarterly, 56 150 15 6. Hodkinson, P., & Sparkes, A. C. (1997). Careership: A sociol ogical theory of career decision making [Electronic version]. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 18 (1), 29 44. Keita, D., & Luft, V. D. (1987, April). Professional competencies need ed by beginning cooperative extension agricultural agents in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension Kutilek, L. M. (2000). Learning from those who leave. Journal of Extension, 38 (3). Kutilek, L. M., Conklin, N. L., & Gunderson, G. (2002). Investing in the future: Addressing work/life issues of employees. Journal of Extension, 40 (1). Kutilek, L. M., Gunderson, G. J., & Conklin, N. L. (2002). A systems approach: Maximizing individual career potent ial and organizational success. Journal of Extension, 40 (2). Lindner, J. R., Murphy, T. H., & Briers, G. E. (2001). Handling nonresponse in social science research. Journal of Agricultural Education, 42 (4), 43 53. McClasin, N. L., & Mwangi, J. (1994). agents. Journal of Extension, 32 (3). National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. (2007). Why Extension? Understanding the people factor Rasmussen, W. D. (1989). Taking the university to the people: Seventy five years of Cooperative Extension Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. Rennekamp, R. A., & Nall, M. (1993). Professional growth: A guide for professional development Retrieved February 1, 2008, fr om http://www. ca.uky.edu/agpsd/stages.htm Rennekamp, R. A., & Nall, M. A. (1994). Growing through the stages: A new look at professional growth. Journal of Extension, 32 (1). Seevers, B., Graham, D., Gamon, J., & Conklin, N. (1997). Education through cooperative ext ension Albany, New York: Delmar Publishers.

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95 Strong, R., & Harder, A. (2009). Implications of maintenance and motivation factors on extension agent turnover. Journal of Extension, 47 (1). Vakola, M., Soderquist, K. E., & Prastacos, G. P. (2007). Compe tency management in support of organizational change. International Journal of Manpower, 28 (3/4), 260 275. Wanous, J. P. (1980). Organizational entry: Recruitment, selection, and socialization of newcomers Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley Publish ing Company.

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96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Matt Benge was raised in the small town of Yulee, FL. He graduated from Fernandina Beach High School in May of 2003. Following high school graduation, Matt quickly jumped into his new role as college student. know what path to follow for a career, but he knew he wanted to work with children and youth. He eventually found the perfect major, Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, and graduated in May of 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida Matt was the first member of the Benge family to graduate from college. During his junior year Dr. Nick Place approached Matt about a career in Extension. Matt had no idea what Extension was, but Dr. Place told him it was a perfect match. Even tually Matt gave in and received an internship with the University of Florida/IFAS and the Nassau County Extension Service, acceptance into the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, and an assistantship with the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. Within this department, Matt served as a teaching assistant in many classes and a graduate assistant to Dr. Amy Harder. Before graduating from graduate school, Matt was hired as the 4 H agent in Alachua County s for the future are simple: continue to challenge and develop our