Given that the Joint Council of Extension Professionals Galaxy III conference ended September 19, I am a bit late posting my follow-up thoughts. Let's just say I wanted to give myself a chance to think things over...
*I presented a very mini (90 minutes) version of the BEPV workshop for about 49 attendees in a breakout session on Tuesday, September 16. I was able to present the basic principles of the public value approach--a "taste" of the full program--for people who are unfamiliar with it. Thank you to everyone who attended, and especially those of you who added to the discussion or asked questions.
*I could tell from the commentary that a lot of different states were represented among the attendees, but I wish I knew which subject areas folks were from. I wonder if Extension professionals in some subject areas (youth development? natural resources? farm management?) are more drawn to the public value approach than others. What are your thoughts?
*When I have such a limited amount of time to teach BEPV, I usually convert the small group activities into open-ended questions to the full group. At a couple of points, I did allow a few minutes for participants to discuss questions with neighbors and report back. But, I miss the interaction and productivity that the activities allow. I am open to suggestions about how best to capture the small group benefits in a shortened program.
*Many of the modules in the BEPV curriculum were included specifically to address questions or challenges I heard when teaching early versions of the program. For example, I drafted the module on "Types of Public Sector Actions" after being challenged that the early program explained the conditions under which public sector action was warranted, but not which kind of action. So, each module addresses an issue that I expect someone in a workshop to bring up. Teaching an abbreviated version of the program can be frustrating, because questions inevitably arise, the answers to which are in modules that I had to cut out! For example, one participant at Galaxy asked a good question about assembling the research she would need to substantiate the claims she wants to make about her program. I sure wished I could have responded by going more fully into the BEPV module that leads small groups to draft a research agenda for their programs.
*Thank you to the Galaxy host at my presentation, who handed out end-of-session evaluations and counted attendees. I had brought some of my own evaluation forms, but the short Galaxy form was quick and easy for people to complete, and I was able to bring the completed forms back the office to be tabulated. (One frequent comment: the room was too cold! Did anyone else attending Galaxy find the rooms at the Indy Convention Center to be chilly?)
*I stayed in the same presentation room to attend the session following mine, "Cost Benefits of Extension Programs — So What?" by Sharon Hoelscher Day from Arizona Cooperative Extension. Measuring the costs and benefits of Extension programs can be a crucial step in substantiating claims about a program's public value, particularly if you can quantitatively differentiate between private and public benefits and costs. Did you attend any other sessions at the Galaxy conference that presented tools or information that would be valuable to a team working on communicating their program's public value?
*Did you attend my session at the Galaxy conference? What do you think went well? What should I have done differently? Go ahead, I can take it!