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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

August 1, 2023

Extension Professional Competencies and Professional Development

Submitted by Elizabeth Kiss

Trained, experienced, and knowledgeable.

Demonstrates the ability to work independently and is self-directed.

Uses informational and educational technology to accomplish goals.

These are just three aspects of a definition of an extension professional. But, how do we as extension professionals acquire and maintain our knowledge and expertise?

One way is through professional development. One type of training may be aimed at developing the core competencies of extension professionals. A second type of training may be aimed at essential, intermediate and advanced training in content area knowledge and skills that lead to or increase subject matter competency. Finally, there is training to teach, evaluate and report impact on specific programs.

Each is important and each contributes to our expertise as extension professionals.

Last year about this time, it was announced that the Agent Update in August 2022 (historically known as FCS Update) would be the final professional development event of this type. Since then, input has been gathered at several points over the year and in a variety of ways from those in the Family and Consumer Sciences program area to better understand the current level of subject area knowledge and needs for future subject area professional development.

Specifically, the FCS regional specialists collected data in fall 2022 related to training to teach, evaluate and report impact on specific programs. They also led structured conversations about professional development at spring regional FCS meetings.

The Kansas Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (KEAFCS ) engaged in multiple conversations and collected a variety of responses to numerous questions related to professional development needs and preferences. In May, FCS/Family and Community Wellness agents were invited to participate in a survey to gather input about their current extension position – what area(s) they program in and how they feel about their knowledge and skills in the subject matter area.

The survey was also an opportunity to share what these agents felt is important for the system to understand about professional development related to developing and maintaining FCS subject matter competency.

Finally, groups have been working over the summer to frame and refine professional development related to specific subject matter competencies and cross-cutting competencies.

What comes next? Plans are being finalized for FCS career and professional development training in a new format in spring 2024. More details will be shared soon. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed and responded to these efforts as we work together to create a framework and process that supports the needs of our system.

Consider these additional aspects of a definition of an extension professional.

Is a lifelong learner.

Embraces and adapts to change.

Is nationally engaged with educational presentations, research, and professional development.

When it comes to professional development, all of us have a role, including the K-State Research and Extension system, regional and national professional associations and their state affiliates, and individual extension professionals.