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June 8, 2010

Are we storytellers or statisticians?

A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk on "Building Public Value with Extension and Research" at the National Extension and Research Administrative Officers Conference in Madison, WI. I heard a question that echoed one that I once asked of an Extension legislative affairs officer: "When making the case for Extension funding to an elected official, is it more effective to tell personal stories about positive experiences with Extension, or to share statistics about the impact of Extension programs?"
The answer I got from the official who visits regularly with state legislators was, "We need a lot of both!" He said that the evidence on program impact is crucial for showing legislators that Extension is improving conditions in their districts. However, we make a stronger case when we can also "put a face" on those statistics with personal stories about Extension and, importantly, personal stories about how the improved community conditions have positively affected a constituent. So, it seems to me, our best case has three components: (1) evidence of program impact, (2) testimony from individuals whose lives were improved by their own participation in Extension programs, and (3) testimony from individuals who benefit from the improved conditions--environmental, social, economic, etc.--that Extension programs helped generate.

June 4, 2010

Revising the public value curriculum

This summer I will be updating the curriculum materials for the "Building Extension's Public Value (BEPV)" and "Public Value of Programs (PVofPP)" workshops. For each workshop, we are updating the slideset, the participant's workbook, and the presenter's guide.
If you have taken the BEPV train-the-trainer course and are using the curriculum materials to teach your own BEPV workshops, or if you are a UM Extension Educator who teaches PVofPP, I would love to hear your suggestions for revising the materials. Have you noticed typos in the printed materials? Have you thought of ways the workshop activities can be improved? Can you suggest updated examples for presenters to use? Are there images or graphics that you think would improve the materials' look? Please share any ideas at all in the comments here or in an email to me.

Thank you for your suggestions. I look forward to sharing the revised materials later in the year.