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STRENGTHENING EXTENSION

Strong Extension programs are informed by research and supported by best practices, however research from the WRPLC: Western Regional Program Leadership Committee (.doc) suggested that that the resources to guide metropolitan Extension organizations in the west were limited to university outreach or faculty development.

Recognizing these distinctions of metropolitan centers in the West, WEDA established the Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research in 2014 to:

  • Increase the internal capacity of Western Extension programs to address metropolitan issues
  • Elevate the stature and value of Cooperative Extension to external metropolitan audiences
With the overarching goal to better align programs and program delivery with the needs, issues and interests of their metropolitan constituency, the Western Center focuses on two major components:

  • Applied research on issues and best Extension practices
  • Professional development of Extension professionals

Operationally, our activities integrate these two core functions, such that applied research informs the professional development activities lead by the Western Center.

What is applied research? Learn more…

Explore Western Center Activities

Professional development for Extension educators

Many Extension faculty and staff working in Western metropolitan areas acquire a unique combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes to help address the needs of metropolitan constituents, including:

  • Project development and management skills
  • Multicultural, multilingual capabilities
  • Ability to work through intermediary organizations
  • Ability to relate to cross-generations, especially with 25-34 year olds
  • Ability to evaluate program impacts within the context of multi-stakeholder collaborations

To strengthen and support the development of these skills, the Western Center develops and supports workshops, webinars, and staff exchanges.

Three people looking over documents at a tablePhoto Credit: COD Newsroom, no modifications were made

HOW WE DO IT

Incorporating Applied Research and Professional Development

Operationally, our activities integrate applied research and professional development such that the applied research informs the professional development activities lead by the Western Center.

Below is the basic approach to the Western Center’s projects. The table exhibits the process in which a specific issue achieves scholarship outputs and outcomes, which then leads to professional development outputs and outcomes.

 

A flow chart of Applied Research and Professional Development

Applied Research and Professional Development Project Criteria

The Western Center applies the following criteria when selecting projects or topics for research and development:

  • The significance of the issue across western states
  • Decision-makers’ stated readiness to address the issue and to use research based information in the process
  • The potential for Extension and the land-grant university system to add value to the project
  • The possibility that the project may attract outside funding resources

Western Center Project Leadership

Within each research project, the Western Center provides responses and guidance for Extension programs to advance their issue under study or to share the outcomes. These responses include, but are not limited to new program development, professional development opportunities, and policy briefs used to inform local, state, or regional policy and decision-making.