Program Planning, Evaluation, and Reporting


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Needs Assessment: Gathering Stakeholder Input

Program Planning Team Needs Assessment/Stakeholder Input

Extension educational programs are based on the needs of stakeholders/constituents. The core of good Extension programming is good input from constituents, which is gathered at the county, area, state and national levels. The program planning process described below provides a guide for gathering input and synthesizing information into strong educational programs.  All staff provide information for the program planning process by gathering stakeholder input.

  1. Identify key stakeholders.
  2. Identify three things/activities you will do to gather stakeholder input (County staff should include County Advisory Board as priority for needs assessment)
  3. Review Process/Tools and prepare annual summary of stakeholder input prior to program planning. See suggestions and sample below.
  4. Program Planning Teams process/prioritize/plan and have website updated by December 15th. Program Planning team members meet (online/conference calls) to accomplish the end goal of updating their team plans by December 15th.
  5. All employees submit their annual plans of work to supervisors by February 1st. This plan reflects programs that have been developed by subject-matter teams and based on annual stakeholder input.
  6. All Impacts Reports are completed on annual basis (due January 15 to supervisor) and shared with stakeholders  as appropriate


Needs assessment can be a combination of both formal methods (annual survey of county advisory board, school board members, community groups, etc) and informal activities (review goals/objectives of other community-based groups, review existing data for your county such as Kids Count!, Department of Health, Ag Statistics, campus research reports, etc).

Sample needs assessment tools for consideration are listed for your consideration:

Extension AgentsArea/State SpecialistNational (ELT)

County Extension advisory board

4-H Council

Community councils and clubs

School boards

Crop improvement association

Ag improvement association

Church associations

Kids Count! reports

Ag statistics

Census data

Any organized group that provides goals/objectives relative to Extension Program subject matter areas

Extension Agents

Regional and state boards

- Wheat Commission

- Corn Council

- Water boards

- Soil conservation districts

SBARE priorities

Subject matter related association and professional organizations at all levels


SBARE priorities

North Central Region global issues related to North Dakota

Federal and state policies


Sample Summary for County Needs Assessment

Anywhere County

Stakeholder Input: Needs Assessment Summary (no more than two pages)

  1. Identify your key stakeholders for each program area and identify how you will gather information. Suggestions include:
    - County advisory council - formal survey
    - Crop improvement association - summary of meeting minutes
    - Kids Count! database review
    - School board/teachers - summary of various meetings and discussions in community

  2. Summarize the top issues identified for each group you have information from that directly relates to your position and workload. Submit summary with your Plan of Work to your District Director.
    Key stakeholders groupTop educational issues/dataRecommendations for Extension Agent
    Advisory Council
    1. Kids/parents and internet safety (4-H farm and school board rec.)
    2. Soil Salinity problems increased by 20% in past two years in county
    1. Develop Extension resource list and contact specialist for support
    2. Bring youth program to schools and community groups
    3. Organize education meetings/tours/demonstrations for county
    Crop Improvement Association
    1. Soil salinity resulted in less of production estimated value of $1.2 million in county
    2. Waste management concerns for cattle producers
    3. Need for more drought resistant corn varieties
    1. Education for farmers
    2. Develop partnership with large operators
    3. Invite specialist to come and meet with association president

    Kids Count! / ND Compass and community group

    1. Increased concern for students with autism and their families
    2. Increased issues with sexting/online inappropriate behaviors
    3. Local leadership roles hard to fill
    1. Meet with PRC coordinator to plan support for parents in school district
    2. Offer educational program at many levels
      - church, businesses, schools, community youth groups
    3. Consider Lead Local program

    4-H Youth Development

    1. More need for local 4-H leaders
    2. Lack of after-school programs
    1. Consider Lead Local program
    2. Facilitate meeting with community leaders/workforce and business leaders and review options


    Statewide listening sessions
    NDSU Extension gathered stakeholder input in the fall of 2015 through a facilitated needs assessment process to ask about crucial issues and challenges affecting the state. This process will be repeated every five years.


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