Professional Development Trainings

Beyond Individual Behavior Change: Programming for Community-Level Impacts

Faculty are under increasing demand in Extension to demonstrate that their programs create community-level change. Donors and government agencies want to see that Extension programs go beyond creating change at the individual level — they want to see significant movement in critical indicators for entire communities, for the county, and ultimately for the state.

Examples of community-level indicators might be things like reduced average water use in municipalities, increased tax revenues from agriculturally based businesses at the county level, or decreased incidence of obesity among youth in specific communities. They also want Extension to address complex issues that involve both individual attitudes and behaviors and structural barriers. It is true that individuals have to change their behaviors to get community level change, but that is just one component of community-level change. Programs that will achieve these kinds of broad-based, systemic changes require concerted efforts to increase resources and opportunities and reduce barriers at a broader, community scale.

As a result, those in Extension will have to be strategic in their programming and that requires a theory of change — a path of related events that must occur at multiple scales and with multiple actors for change to occur. It also typically requires developing strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with other agencies and organizations. This training will give participants an opportunity to develop their own strategic theory of change to access a complex problem that is critical to their work in Extension.

Training Objectives:

  1. Use a theory of change to develop a strategy to improve the outcomes of community systems.
  2. Establish objectives for a community-based program to achieve change in performance of community systems.
  3. Identify community partners you need to work with to implement the objectives of your program.
  4. Select community-level indicators you can use to monitor and evaluate your program impacts.


Successful Grant Writing for Extension Programming

The funding opportunities for community-based and farm organizations provide important resources to foster community and farm development. Both public organizations, like USDA, and private foundations offer many grant opportunities that can provide fiscal resources for the development of community based organizations.

Successful proposal development is a learned skill. While the specific requirements for each proposal will vary, depending on the donor’s goals, objectives, and proposal requirements, there are commonalities to virtually all proposals. Understanding the major factors that donors commonly use to evaluate proposals is key to writing winning proposals.

The purpose of this program is to help participants respond effectively to the key factors donors commonly use to evaluate proposals.

Training Objectives:

  1. Write a problem statement that is responsive to the donor’s funding priorities.
  2. Develop goals, objectives, and outcomes to address the problem statement.
  3. Develop and describe objective-based activities.
  4. Construct an appropriate evaluation strategy.
  5. Develop an objective-based budget.


When and How to Utilize the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Research and Extension

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) review all research involving human subjects to ensure that their welfare and rights are protected as mandated by federal regulations. Faculty, staff, and students at UF may not conduct any human research without prior IRB approval. Effective sustainable agriculture program evaluation and outreach relies on farmer, agricultural service provider, and consumer feedback.

The objective of this IST is to provide participants with an understanding of how the IRB submission process works, when it is necessary, and how to submit an IRB successfully.

Training Objectives:

  1. Identify when IRB approval is necessary to complete their plan of work.
  2. Register, access, and navigate the myIRB site.
  3. Complete the required CITI training needed to submit to IRB.
  4. Successfully submit an IRB research protocol.
  5. Make changes to the study as requested by the IRB
  6. Identify when an IRB protocol revision is necessary
  7. Successfully submit an IRB protocol revision.


Business Retention and Expansion

The Florida SARE Program collaborates with Ohio State University Extension to provide a two and a half day training on community-led Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) programs.

The BR&E program assists communities by improving the business climate of the community, helping to make local businesses remain competitive, increasing employment, and stabilizing the local economy. The program provides the resources, training, and tools to develop the capacity of the community to better understand its economy. The program also offers other outcomes of community engagement, including a streamlined BR&E process that enables local leaders to focus on planning, action, and results; a database of local information; and a more robust local economy.

This training program helps build capacity among county Extension faculty to respond to agricultural and ag-related business needs in their communities. This program encourages county Extension faculty of multiple disciplines to interact with agricultural and ag-related businesses in their counties and with other county faculty addressing sustainable agriculture in their programming. Each section of the workshop prepares county Extension faculty in a different phase of the overall BR&E process. Participants also conduct practice business visits to allow county Extension faculty to conduct a business assessment at a food or agriculture related business.

Training Objectives:

  1. Develop and implement a strategy to build a database of information that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the local economy specifically related to agricultural and ag-related businesses.
  2. Implement data-driven strategies and provide informed guidance to community and economic development decision-makers that will lead to the retention and expansion of existing agricultural and ag-related businesses.

Our overall approach to meeting these objectives involves utilizing existing resources developed by The Ohio State University (OSU). Two faculty members from OSU facilitate this training program. They provide all materials and resources county Extension faculty need to implement the BR&E program in their county, including valid instruments for collected data on food and agriculture related businesses.


Graduate Student Grant Writing

Graduate students are under increasing pressure to find funding to supplement their research and/or program fees. This workshop specifically addresses the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant and will:

  1. Increase the likelihood of graduate students obtaining grant funding.
  2. Allow graduate students to gain experience in grant writing to enhance their skills for employment.
  3. Give graduate students an introduction to successful grant writing techniques.

The workshop helps improve the grant writing skills of graduate students by discussing the keys to writing a successful grant proposal. Students have the opportunity to work on their own proposal at the workshop.

Training Objectives

  1. Write a problem statement that is responsive to the donor’s funding priorities.
  2. Develop goals, objectives, and outcomes to address the problem statement.
  3. Develop and describe objective-based activities.
  4. Develop an objective-based budget.


Advisory Committee