Professional Development in the New Year

Deborah Maddy
Deb Maddy, Associate Provost for University Outreach & Engagement, Associate Director of Extension Service
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Happy New Year! 2013 is off and running and I bet you are setting a pace that would be difficult for many to keep up with.

Extension professionals have a reputation for leading the pack, not only with the speed of their response but also with innovation, collaboration and accountability. Although our work as Extension educators engaged in helping communities and individuals be successful isn’t really a competitive race, it often feels like the ultimate endurance race... Who isn’t feeling increased pressure to meet ever expanding needs with fewer and fewer resources? It takes an individual who is fit, defined as suitable, healthy and equipped, to meet the challenges of the day.

Professional development can help you have suitable competencies for the tasks that lay ahead, maintain a healthy attitude for staying focused, and be well equipped with new skills, or in other words be fit, for helping communities and individuals be successful. As OSU Extension positions itself to address contemporary issues affecting Oregon, faculty and staff members will need to engage in training and development in order to maintain professional expertise in relevant areas.

It’s never too late to make New Year’s resolutions... Now is a good time set some professional goals for 2013. In order to help you set individual goals, I purpose the following four overarching organizational goals as a frame for the training and development needed by OSU Extension employees to help the organization advance:

  • Goal 1: OSU Extension builds capacity to make a difference.
    (Effective recruitment, hiring and orientation)
  • Goal 2: OSU Extension is dynamic and capitalizes on opportunities to help Oregonians.
    (Needs assessment, program planning, and program delivery)
  • Goal 3: OSU Extension demonstrates that it makes positive change happen.
    (Program evaluation, program reporting, and communicating results)
  • Goal 4: OSU Extension is competent in an ever-changing world.
    (Career-long learning and professional development)

The goals briefly state the desired condition of the organization, summarizing our core values and operating principles. Under each goal are the relevant areas of expertise or habitude that faculty and staff need for being fit and able to meet the challenges of the day.

As you consider what professional goals to set, think about:

  • What areas you wish to be more competent in and confident about for accomplishing your current assignment?
  • Where do you see your career in five-years and what knowledge and skills will you need to get there?
  • In your last performance review, were there areas identified that needed improvement or strengthening?
  • What are your strengths and are you interested in developing a deeper specialty in that area of knowledge or skill?

You may also want to talk with your supervisor or peers about what they'd suggest as appropriate professional goals. Sometimes others can see your work from a more objective perspective and provide valuable feedback on your skills and abilities. Or they can share positive trainings or development experiences they have had that may give you ideas to pursue for yourself. And, if your plan of work is entered into SOARS, be sure to include your 2013 goals in your professional development plan.

Faculty members working at 1.0 FTE for Extension should commit at least 12 days (90 hours) per year for training and development, to be negotiated with and approved by the immediate supervisor in consultation with program leader(s) and department head. Those faculty members working less than 1.0 FTE will scale their training and development commitment to match their FTE. This commitment may include program in-service, university sponsored workshops and webinars, eXtension webinars, professional meetings and conferences, Extension Spring Training, O&E strategic conference, for-credit courses, etc. The number of days may be higher for newer faculty members or for faulty who have a change in assignment.

Office and program support staff should commit to at least two or three training and development activities per year, to be negotiated with and approved by the immediate supervisor and may vary in length of time commitment from a few hours of training spread over several weeks to two or three days of intensive in-service on a new initiative. This commitment may include program in-service, university sponsored workshops and webinars, eXtension webinars, professional meetings and conferences, Extension Spring Training, O&E strategic conference, for-credit courses, local workshops or programs that contribute to the assigned worked, etc.

Don’t let costs get in the way of following through on your 2013 professional goals. Through the generous donations of Extension supporters, OSU Extension offers professional development funds to support faculty and staff in their professional develop activities. These funds are awarded quarterly and designed to help faculty and staff gain the knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors to enhance Extension education programs and services. See the Professional Development Fund webpage for details.

It is training and development that will help each of us achieve the finish line in this endurance race we all have entered for 2013. To remain a focused, responsive organization that engages successfully with Oregon’s people and communities for positive impacts, we each must be fit and able. I hope you will take advantage of the organization’s commitment to your professional growth and set 2013 professional goals that benefit you and the important work you do.

Deb Maddy
Associate Provost for University Outreach & Engagement
Associate Director of Extension Service