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Professional Development

Since its inception the WCMER has worked to advance the development of urban Extension professionals through a series of papers, workshops, webinars, and a systematic progression of fellowships exploring the ecosystem of urban Extension professional development at the local, institutional and system level. On this page we highlight how we’ve explored the urban landscape, followed by how our fellows have contributed to core questions and then the workshops and webinars we have produced. A well-prepared professional workforce is key to the success of any Extension program, but personnel in urban areas require specialized support to deliver on the mission of the land-grant university while working at the interface of community and academia. This collective body of work can serve as a roadmap for addressing practices, policies, and trainings to support the urban Extension professional.

Papers – Exploring the urban landscape

The needs of urban Extension professionals are rooted in the unique challenges they face in complex, diverse and multi-jurisdictional metropolitan environments.

Transitioning away from long term programs to short term programs can provide greater flexibility to meet the emerging needs of urban stakeholders.

We invite you to view the full list of WCMER publications here.

Professional Development Fellows

Competency Framework

Julie Fox, Ph.D. from the Ohio State University originated our professional development fellowships by asking, “What competencies are unique for Extension professionals working in urban or metropolitan designated areas?” Her work culminated in an urban competency framework for Extension agents/educators and county directors, developed in partnership with the Extension Foundation, Eduworks, and research participants from all of ECOP’s geographic regions. The framework can be a powerful tool for developing the capacity and competency of urban Extension educators, specialists and administrators.

The 2019 Urban Professional Development Summit, led by Julie, helped initiate engagement with JCEP member organizations to establish collective professional develop efforts, outcomes, timelines, and next steps, and benefit from economies of scale by leveraging national Extension network strengths. Learn more about Julie’s fellowship and related work.

Human Resource Development

Building on Julie Fox’s fellowship, Ramona Madhosingh Hector explored the current literature, activities, needs, and models relevant to professional development for urban Extension personnel and developed a competency profile for an urban Extension agent/faculty. Her work, to be detailed in a forthcoming paper, applied human resource concepts from private business to Extension and illustrated the resources and skills required for Extension personnel to be successful in urban settings.

Career Progression

Dr. Jeantyl Norze and Eric Killian’s fellowship focused on urban Extension professionals’ career progression within institutions of higher education and their promotion and tenure process. Urban Extension personnel work in a complex landscape. To be effective they need to possess a set of competencies which differs from their rural colleagues (previously explored by Ramona Madhosingh-Hector‘s fellowship). They are also required to work more in the realm of policy and system change than in traditional direct education. As a result, their interface with promotion and tenure, and the entire academic process is unique, less understood, and represents challenges for the both the urban Extension professionals and those charged to support and evaluate their work. Read Jeantyl and Eric’s paper Career Progression for Urban Extension Professionals.

Urban Extension Toolkit

white woman with red hair and red lipstick smilingAlyssa Bowers teamed with Ramona Madhosingh-Hector to develop a framework for an Urban Extension Toolkit which will provide all Extension professionals in metropolitan areas access to training materials targeting urban Extension competencies. This toolkit will use a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout, and will include standardized measures that could be used by any program area while providing opportunities to reflect the local context. Their work is described in a recent poster presented at the Epsilon Sigma Phi conference. A paper is forthcoming.


Extension as Urban Policy Advisors

Urban Extension offices have a lower staffing ration relative to potential audiences compared to their rural colleagues. To have significant impact, this often requires a greater focus on policy, systems and environment change rather than direct service. In February 2015 WCMER convened the Extension as Urban Policy Advisors Workshop in Seattle. The workshop was repeated later in Sacramento with local presenters. Both workshops drew attendees from across the western states and Alaska.


In 2015-2016 WCMER presented a series of professional development webinars exploring urban Extension models, programs and projects from across the country, along with opportunities to engage and build professional skills.