Extension studies the effectiveness of its leadership education programs every year. Our goal is to understand whether our programs:
- Strengthen participants' skills and knowledge about leadership;
- Increase the levels of leadership provided to communities among participants; and
- Create stronger communities.
Community leadership is stronger when leaders use skills to convene and facilitate groups and understand changes that affect local decisions and lead to success. During 2012, end-of-workshop evaluations were administered for 65 workshops, with 1,242 participants. Over 99 percent of these participants reported an increase in their knowledge across all learning objectives for the workshop they attended.
Extension Research Fellow Ben Winchester conducted a study in 2010 showing that demand for leaders in the most rural areas of the state is nearly five times greater than in the most urban areas. These rural counties require one in 34 residents to serve in leadership positions, compared with one in every 143 residents in metropolitan areas. So, in 2013, we collected information from 149 participants in eight leadership cohort programs. We compared the level and amount of leadership roles participants had at the beginning of a Extension leadership program to their leadership roles at the end of a program. Results are below.
We surveyed alumni of leadership cohorts that ended in 2012. The purpose was to understand whether participants used their skills to make meetings, planning sessions and committees more productive. A total of 96.5 percent said they had been able to convene and facilitate groups more productively, and 79.3 percent reported that this had happened to a moderate or great extent.
Leading communities requires individuals to use information from multiple perspectives. We asked 56 participants in cohorts how frequently they worked, collaborated or interacted socially with people who are different from them, or with people from different communities. Over 71 percent (40) of the 56 participants increased their overall level of connection to new groups from the beginning to the end of a program.