Caillouet, O., & Harder, A. (2021). Diverse perspectives on trends impacting the future of extension in Florida. Journal of Agricultural Education, 62(3), 202-216. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2021.03202

In Extension, understanding trends has ramifications when working with external audiences, internal audiences, and even preparing future Extension professionals. This research sought to assess the applicability of several national trends to Florida so that the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CES) could more accurately plan to meet the needs of Florida in the future. The Organizational Change model guided this discussion and provided a theory-driven strategy for addressing future challenges facing Extension. A basic qualitative study was used, and eight participants were interviewed. Participants were required to be Florida Extension personnel who were well regarded within the organization and had a working understanding of Extension’s issues. Data analysis was performed using the constant comparative method with open coding and themes were consolidated which ultimately resulted in five themes and 10 sub-themes. Findings indicated that the transformational factors challenging Extension included the external environment and mission and strategy. Conversely, the challenging transactional factors were structure, systems (policies and procedures), and task requirements and individual skills. Transformational factors were identified as the primary catalyst for change and Extension may focus efforts towards the four sub-themes that emerged from the external environment: (a) urbanization, (b) education with online technology, (c) conflicting messages, and (d) diverse audiences. Additionally, three sub-themes emerged from mission and strategy: (a) science-based information, (b) building partnerships, and (c) engaging stakeholders. The Florida CES has adapted to many 21st century challenges, but the need for change remains if Extension intends to keep its reputation as a premier educational organization.

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