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Extension > Community > Leadership & Civic Engagement > Program Outcomes

Program Outcomes

Extension routinely studies the effectiveness of its leadership and civic engagement programs. Our goal is to understand whether our programs:

  1. Strengthen participant leadership skills and knowledge;
  2. Increase leadership within communities by participants; and
  3. Create stronger communities.

New skills and knowledge

Leadership competencies

Extension's leadership programs focus on skills and knowledge that help participants lead teams, solve problems, and make a difference in communities. Post-program assessments show strong increases in knowledge and skills related to the following competencies*:

Civic Engagement competencies

*Data presents the percentage of increase, as measured by retrospective pre-post surveys in three civic engagement cohort programs, regarding key skills that create positive civic engagement experiences in communities.

New leadership

Extension Research Fellow Ben Winchester conducted a 2010 study showing that demand for leaders in the most rural areas of Minnesota 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 143 residents in metropolitan areas. In 2014, we collected information from 161 participants of seven leadership cohort programs. We compared the level and number of their leadership roles at the beginning of an Extension leadership program to the level and number at the end of the program. Results are below.

Percent of 2014 program participants who increased their involvement in at least one of their organizational roles

Percent of 2014 program participants who increased their involvement in at least one of their organizational roles

Click on program title for more program information (website not available for West Central Emerging Leaders).

Red River Valley Emerging Leaders Brigding Brown County Connecting Nicollet County NELD MARL McLeoad for Tomorrow

Stronger communities

Connections to each other, to other communities, and to other resources, can be leveraged to bring new ideas and resources to communities. Extension's leadership and civic engagement programs intentionally create these connections.

Percentage of participants in county bridging or civic engagement cohort programs that increased connections to new groups and people

As measured by pre- and post-survey

To evaluate the impacts of leadership and civic engagement programs, Extension builds on the community capitals (Flora, et. al., 20081) and public value (Kalambokidis, 2004; Chazdon & Paine, 20142) frameworks. Program participants and other community stakeholders are invited to participate in Ripple Effect Mapping sessions, where they reflect on the chain of effects of the programs in their communities3. While the Extension program may not be the sole cause of all the reported outcomes, participants in these sessions were able to name a specific contribution that the Extension program made towards most of these outcomes. The outcomes are categorized into "community capitals" that are known to create thriving communities. In 2014, ripple effect maps were created to analyze the effects of two leadership and civic engagement cohort programs — the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leaders' (MARL) Program and the Water Quality Civic Engagement cohort in Southwest Minnesota. MARL program alumni credited the program with 61 outcomes for their communities.

Reported community effects of the MARL program, as reported by participants and community stakeholders.

For more information and examples, click on the icons below.

Human Civic/Political Social Financial Cultural Built Natural
Human Civic/Political Social Financial Cultural Built Natural
28 21 13 7 4 1 1

Human

Definition:
Changes in knowledge, attitudes, or skills among organization or community members.

Examples:

  • Broader understanding of domestic and global issues particularly related to agriculture
  • MARL helped me make business changes and successfully implement "servant leadership," transformed how to lead our people
  • Confidence of being able to work through conflict; used this as President of Chamber of Commerce

Civic/Political

Definition:
Increased ability of organizations or communities to mobilize public engagement or influence the distribution of public resources.

Examples:

  • Got a seat on school board
  • Getting more active in the community after MARL; ran for city council
  • More civil conversations due to the ability to better see others' perspectives; better listener; increased confidence to lead difficult projects effectively
  • I like to facilitate, other people call me with problems to solve

Social

Definition:
Strengthened or expanded trust or connections among people, groups and organizations.

Examples:

  • Helped improve relationship with Union and city workers
  • MARL peer group provides confidence to be more active leader
  • Proud to be a part of vast alumni network; finds myself drawing upon the wealth of knowledge
  • Meetings with community group leaders (leaders of different stakeholder of organizations with state); without these meetings networks would have been very limited

Financial

Definition:
Increased private and public wealth that is invested in the well-being of organizations or communities.

Examples:

  • Identified synergies between pork, beef and dairy industries around things like feed
  • Worked on purchasing cooperatives for schools
  • Alumnus took on responsibility to work with local grocery owner to plan for orderly succession so that the only grocery store in town could remain open
  • More confidence to lead effectively especially in difficult projects, to listen better and see other perspectives better

Cultural

Definition:
Strengthened ability of organizations or communities to support and celebrate diverse worldviews, and to transmit knowledge of cultural heritage to future generations.

Examples:

  • Taking role of the other, respect for people and their differences
  • Saw all levels of wealth during Morocco trip - eye opening experience

Built

Definition:
Improvement of structures and infrastructures that contribute to the well-being of organizations or communities.

Examples:

  • Alumnus created a 20 megawatt wind farm in SW Minnesota.

Natural

Definition:
Strengthened ability of organizations or communities to protect landscape, air, water, soil and biodiversity of both plants and animals.

Examples:

  • Alumnus created a 20 megawatt wind farm in SW Minnesota.

Reported community effects of the Southeast Minnesota Civic Engagement Cohort, as reported by participants and community stakeholders.

For more information and examples, click on the icons below.

Civic/Political Social Human Natural Financial Health Built
Civic/Political Social Human Natural Financial Health Built
30 27 26 17 3 1 1

Human

Definition:
Changes in knowledge, attitudes, or skills among organization or community members.

Examples:

  • Deepened her understanding of the differences and needs at the local level in order to make watershed implementation projects happen
  • New understanding of how data can be used in technical analysis and communication
  • More tools in her toolbox for the future

Civic/Political

Definition:
Increased ability of organizations or communities to mobilize public engagement or influence the distribution of public resources.

Examples:

  • Three county "Citizen Summit" built on principles learned in the cohort
  • Stronger connections between state and local agencies working on water quality
  • Tools helped with more effective participation rather than just having a few loud voices

Social

Definition:
Strengthened or expanded trust or connections among people, groups and organizations.

Examples:

  • Connections among people in our region formed the coalition that was required to be selected to be a pilot for the One Watershed One Plan
  • Adjoining watershed is bouncing ideas back and forth
  • Interactions with Citizen's Group were more in-depth than they would have been otherwise -- result of methods learned in the cohort

Financial

Definition:
Increased private and public wealth that is invested in the well-being of organizations or communities.

Examples:

  • Received 319 Grant to work together (EPA money through Pollution Control Agency)
  • Ag Certainty program -- Whitewater River Watershed; this cohort was part of the reason it got selected

Natural

Definition:
Strengthened ability of organizations or communities to protect landscape, air, water, soil and biodiversity of both plants and animals.

Examples:

  • Citizen summit led to creation of a Healthy Lake Winona Group. This citizen-led effort is working to get the lake off the impaired list; watershed citizen's groups becoming more self-sustaining and tackling more challenging problems
  • Citizen summits in Mississippi River-Winona have broad participation; this strengthened water management efforts due to stronger citizen support.

Built

Definition:
Improvement of structures and infrastructures that contribute to the well-being of organizations or communities.

Examples:

  • Educational signage in parks throughout the watershed

Health

Definition:
Increased ability of organizations or communities to promote physical, mental, or spiritual well-being.

Examples:

  • At Zumbro watershed, we started a process of doing civic engagement with communities in the watershed -- educational recreation in parks along rivers in the watershed.

References:
1 Flora, C. B., & Flora, J. L. (2008). Rural communities: Legacy and change. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

2 Kalambokidis, L. (2004). Identifying the public value in Extension programs. Journal of Extension, 45(2), Available for download at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2004april/a1.php.

3 Chazdon, S. & Paine. N. 2014. Evaluating for public value: Clarifying the relationship between public value and program evaluation. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension 2(2): 100-119. Available for download at: http://media.wix.com/ugd/c8fe6e_8b2458db408640e580cfbeb5f8c339ca.pdf.

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