Public value of an extension program is defined as the value which accrues to program non-participants.
Private value of an extension program is defined as the value which accrues to people who directly participate in an Extension program.
A key part of the Minnesota external relations strategy has been helping each program be able to identify and articulate the sources of their public value as well as their private value.
Nearly all taxpayers are non-participants of some, or even most, Extension programs. When public budgets are under stress, everyone starts to ask what the payoff is for public investment in specific programs. With 80 to 90 percent of all Extension funding coming from public funds, an understanding of public value and being able to articulate this is very important.
While most Extension staff can clearly describe the private value of their programs and often have empirical estimates, many can not name the public value aspects. Without a clear understanding of private value, it is hard to attract program participants. Without a clear understanding of public value, it is hard to maintain public funding. (Is that why funding is declining nationally?)
Best Blog and Training: One of my Minnesota colleagues, Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, has the best blog and training program on public value. You can link to these at:
I have used her training program with four groups of 40 individuals and one with 325. The smaller sessions were 2 hours long and the larger group was an more indepth session of four hours. I highly recommend both her training program and her blog.