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Urban Professional Development Summit

Posted by msanderson | June 27, 2019

Urban Professional Development Summit

The Urban Professional Development, the launch activity for applied research fellowship and Deep Dive, led by Dr. Julie Fox, tOSU ), built upon the National Urban Extension framework and implementation plan and helped initiate a process of Extension organizations working to addressing professional development priorities related to the growing urban influence in our country and urban-suburban-rural interdependencies. Held in conjunction with the 2019 JCEP Leadership Conference, this by-invitation summit brought together key individuals working in professional development from JCEP membership organizations, ECOP regions, NUEL, eXtension, and JOE to:

  • Initiate conversations and engagement with JCEP member organizations, and professional development leadership within member organizations.
  • Determine interest in establishing a collective PD effort, outcomes, timelines, and next steps.
  • Benefit from economies of scale by collaborating on focused efforts that leverage national Extension network strengths.

Post-Summit activities have included a Zoom meeting to review summit activities and clarify next steps, review of the full report of the 2017 Survey on Urban Extension Professional Development,  Communication Resources and a Leading Edge Dialogue at the National Urban Extension Conference titled Staffing: preparing the Urban Extension Workforce.. Planned next steps include continued collaboration with the JCEP board, and with two NUEL and eXtension fellows: one developing an a eFieldbook, and the other working with EduWorks on a Competency Framework Development (CFD) for both program professionals (educators, agents, specialists, managers, coordinators, assistants) and project professionals (paid or volunteer consultants). This project will also help WCMER determine our value-add in urban professional development.

Learn more about Dr. Julie Fox and her work with WCMER.

View an executive summary of the Urban Extension Professional Development Summit.

Executive Summary

Urban Extension Professional Development Summit 

Executive Summary 

Extension professionals receive professional development (PD) training through a variety of platforms including their state Extension unit, professional associations (e.g., JCEP), collaborative networks (e.g, eXtension, National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL), Western Center for Metropolitan Extension & Research), professional journals (e.g., Journal of Extension) and other formal and informal learning environments. Despite existing PD opportunities, new and seasoned Extension professional can be challenged in navigating complex urban settings where greater diversity, complexity, density, and scale require contextual perspective and a collection of skills beyond disciplinary expertise. 

To explore the PD needs of urban Extension professionals a diverse group of Extension leaders representing differing urban Extension interests recently convened in a one-day gathering to initiate a broader conversation on the topic. The discussion was framed by a staff survey presented at the 2017 National Urban Extension Conference where, among other findings, 80% of Extension staff indicated they lacked urban-specific resources for new staff onboarding, 79% indicated that no system existed for urban staff mentoring, and 66% indicated they lacked clear goals and expectations relative to their engagement with community. Simply put, urban Extension staff and those that represent Extension in urban settings, require additional PD offerings based on relevant competencies if Extension is going to achieve the programmatic reach and impact desired. 

After exploring various staff competencies, particularly those identified as critical for success in urban environments, and the rural-urban interface, the group identified a series of next steps that provides a realistic pathway toward achieving a collective urban Extension PD system that triages collective resources and expertise, including: 

  • pursuing a liaison and/or affiliate status of NUEL with JCEP member organizations to engage in dialogue with committees and association memberships on urban Extension competencies and PD; 
  • working with eXtension’s Impact Collaborative initiative to pursue innovations in urban Extension professional competencies; 
  • utilizing the Competency Framework Development (CFD), facilitated by eXtension contractor EduWorks, to develop a CFD for a full-time urban Extension program professional and an urban Extension project representative; 
  • guiding an eXtension Fellow in developing urban Extension competency and PD resources; supporting their work on a Fieldbook 
  • connecting with JCEP’s professional development efforts, including potential certificate programs for Extension competencies and a complimentary urban competency “badge”; 
  • facilitating a Leading Edge system change conversation at the National Urban Extension Conference in May 2019 to explore how to integrate urban Extension competencies into hiring, developing, and recognizing diverse talent; 
  • exploring a national urban Extension staff mentoring program to encourage peer-to-peer learning; 
  • continuing to engage Extension Directors and the NUEL Steering Committee, NUEL PD Action Team, and emerging NUEL Regional Caucuses to include diverse representation from each of the ECOP regions in the CFD, PD efforts, and other related projects; and 
  • integrating urban Extension PD references and resources into the new NUEL website (hosted by eXtension). 

Tremendous opportunities exist in furthering Extension’s impact in urban communities. Realizing our potential however, requires committing to a robust professional development system that equips administrators, faculty, staff, and other urban Extension representatives with the unique skills necessary for success. The above outlined efforts provide actionable steps toward uniting Extension organizations in addressing PD priorities related to the growing urban influence and urban-suburban-rural interdependencies. 

Summit held February 5, 2019 

Click for a PDF version of this summary.

Member Universities Involved

Professional Development Applied Research Fellow

Julie Fox, Ph.D.
Ohio State University