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We are NDSU Extension Service: Capacity Development (12/11/2015)

This is the twelfth and final entry in a series of blog posts to highlight key information about our Extension organization’s culture. The focus of this post is on capacity development.

The mission of the NDSU Extension Service is to create learning partnerships that help adults and youth enhance their lives and communities. How can the organization achieve this mission? First and foremost is hiring great people with the right skill set and passion to serve North Dakotans. Next, we must be flexible and resourceful to gauge and be prepared to meet the tool boxchanging critical issues facing North Dakotans. How do we do that? By retooling, and that’s where Extension’s investment in capacity development comes in. We want to make sure that we have the right tools—the right knowledge and skills—in our toolboxes.

Lifelong learning is what we do for our clientele and ourselves. Just as you listen to your clientele and offer programs to help meet their ever-changing needs, administration listens to you and offers training and resources to equip you. The organization places high value on what you brought with you to your job and further invests in building your skill sets.

The NDSU Extension Service makes a substantial investment in orienting and mentoring new agents and specialists, and educating all staff through conferences and in-service opportunities in and out of state. The primary focus of this training is professional development—to hone skills in educating, facilitating and collaborating. Organizationally-supported opportunities for development are summarized in our professional development chart.

But it doesn’t stop there. The investment continues in you as a person, and this opportunity is not available in many organizations. Extension offers several opportunities for personal development with 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as the organization’s lead program for all of us as individuals. The content of 7 Habits is not subject-matter driven but rather supports development and growth that is directly related to your personal and work life. The 7th Habit, “Sharpening the Saw,” is a direct reference to the need to make time to learn new skills and prepare for new opportunities. Watch for the next training opportunity and sign up!

The most recent initiative adopted by the Extension Leadership Team (ELT) to recognize and reward ongoing professional development is the Learn and Lead, and Advanced Degree incentive programs. These programs give agents, parent educators, and nutrition education assistants the opportunity to add to their base pay and/or receive a cash stipend or supplemental professional development funds for work above standard expectations. In considering retention of quality employees, these programs became a priority for the ELT. If you’re an agent, parent educator or nutrition education assistant, visit the website to take a look at how you can benefit from these programs.

Finally, the NDSU Extension Service leadership team includes district directors and program leaders who care about you and are here to answer questions and to support your personal and professional development needs. They value you as the organization’s most vital resource and are committed to maintaining a high standard for professional development in Extension that is second to none in the nation.

Check out our recently revamped Careers site for thoughts on why we believe NDSU Extension is a great place to work.

Deb Gebeke, Assistant Director-Family and Consumer Sciences, Program Development and Evaluation, and Staff Development

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