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Extension County Operations: Program Development

County Program Development Team Tips: Year 2

Advisory System Tips are provided by your Program Development Team. If your county has a tip you would like to share, please send it to Jeff Christie at

  • Tip 1 - Who's Doing the Work?
  • Tip 2 - Get to REALLY Know Your Team Members!
  • Tip 3 - Utilize the Resources of the ELS Website!
  • Tip 4 - Have a Plan for Program Development Team (PDT) Member Involvement!
  • Tip 5 - Ensure That Your Educational Programs Match Your Team Goals!
  • Tip 6 - ALL New Members are Appointed to a 3-year Term
  • Tip 7 - ELS Terminology [and a sports analogy]
  • Tip 8 - When working with your PDT … Remember the GOLDEN RULE!

Tip 1 - Who's doing the work? (May 2008)

You may be hesitant to allow members to take on leadership roles. Taking control of the committee yourself may be easier and save time. However, does this develop members' leadership abilities? Turning over some management tasks may be a gradual process, but learn to relax and let members begin to assume more responsibility.


Tip 2 - Get to REALLY know your team members! (June 2008)

Take time to get to know your Program Development Team (PDT) members, their skills and experiences that may enhance your program goals. In what settings are they most effective? With what types of personalities do they work best? Overall, what makes them tick?

Take just a little time this summer to "play on their turf". Make an appointment to meet with them in their offices. Take an opportunity to attend one of their meetings or programs. Not only will this enhance your relationship with your team members, but it will help broaden your professional experience. Who knows? You may even meet some potential PDT recruits for the future!


Tip 3 - Utilize the resources of the ELS website! (July 2008)

A recent informal survey revealed three things about the ELS website:
  1. Some agents did not know there was an ELS website.
  2. Some agents knew there was an ELS website but did not know where to find it.
  3. Some agents knew there was an ELS website and where to find it. They were using its resources to strengthen their efforts in building their Program Development Teams (PDT).

In response to these findings, this month's T.O.M. is devoted to a summary of the benefits associated with reviewing the resources available in support of the positive work you are doing.

There is, in fact, an ELS website. Currently, it is part of the Program Development segment of the County Operations section of the CAES Intranet.

Since that was confusing enough just to type, the direct link is:

Here are just a few examples of useful resources you can find on the site:

  • An archive of the 20 County PDT Tips from 2006-2007, generated by the ELS Team
  • A Glossary of Terms related to ELS, CAES, and Extension
  • Sample Letters to use in communication with your PDT members
  • More than 15 tools/activities you can use to advance the development and enhance the efforts of your PDT
  • *NEW* A customizable (by county and program area) brochure to aid in your recruitment of new PDT members

The ELS Team recently updated and re-organized the website to make it more useful and user-friendly. To that end, we are more than happy to receive any input that you might have. Please send your comments regarding content, functionality, organization, or anything else website-related either directly to me or to your PDC.


Tip 4 - Have a Plan for Program Development Team (PDT) Member Involvement! (August 2008)

The expectation is that each and every PDT member will be involved with some aspect of your Extension programming 3-5 times per year. Don't just say, "Here is what we have coming up, what would you like to do?" Instead, make a list of the things with which you would like your members to help. Divide the responsibilities up and be clear in your explanation of the roles/tasks associated with each one. Ask them to commit before the meeting adjourns.

It is very important to follow up with team members who are not present at a given meeting. Send them the minutes of the meeting and also call/email and ask for their help at an upcoming activity.


Tip 5 - Ensure That Your Educational Programs Match Your Team Goals! (September 2008)

When planning the educational program (the first 'E' in R.E.P.E.) for your Program Development Team (PDT) meeting, think about the goals that have been set for your Team. If there are goals about which your team members need to learn more, use the educational program component of your meeting as an opportunity to share knowledge and information. Also look for subjects that will personally and professionally build your members. Share good ideas with your co-workers and ask them for ideas and educational programs.


Tip 6 - ALL New Members are Appointed to a 3-year Term (October 2008)

Initially, as you recruited the members for your first Program Development Team (PDT), approximately one-third of those were appointed for a 3-year term; one third for a 2-year term; and one third for a 1-year term. The purpose for doing this was to create a staggered rotation, such that you would never lose all your experience at the same time. At the one year anniversary of your Team (which may or may not have occurred, yet) you [will] have arrived at a new way of doing business.

From that point (the 1st anniversary of your PDT), all Team Members should be appointed for a 3 year term. The goal is to replace 1/3 of your members each year for creativity and new ideas while retaining 2/3 of your members for continuity and experience. Remember, a member should be off the Team for at least a year before being re-appointed.


Tip 7 - ELS Terminology [and a sports analogy] (November 2008)

Extension Leadership System (ELS)

‘ELS’ is a concept, or a framework. The "System" refers to a set of guiding principles designed to create an intentional effort to train a statewide network of stakeholders.  These trained supporters are then actively engaged in the business of Cooperative Extension.  Because ELS is a reference to a concept, it is not appropriate to refer to an ELS team.

Program Development Team (PDT)

Every agent who has worked more than one year should be coordinating and working with a PDT.  These are the ‘teams’ to which agents are referring when they often reference “my ELS team”.  In theory, each program area (4-H, FACS, A&NR) in every county should have a PDT dedicated to achieving a set of goals in that program area.  If a particular program area in a county is not supported by an agent, there may or may not be a PDT active at this time.  The members of the PDT are the work horses in that area.  They are key stakeholders in the community who are committed to helping Cooperative Extension achieve those program area-specific goals.

A Sports Analogy

For the sports fans in the crowd, let me use an analogy to bring it all home.

By comparison, ELS is like the Southeastern Conference (SEC).  The conference provides structure and rules for competition to those schools who are members.  The SEC does not have a team, so to speak.

Within the SEC, member schools (i.e., Georgia, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, etc…) sponsor teams comprised of scholar athletes, or players, which compete in different sports (i.e., football, baseball, basketball, etc…). 

Within ELS, counties (i.e., Pickens, Candler, Houston, etc…) coordinate teams, or Program Development Teams (PDT’s), comprised of stakeholders, or players, which support agents’ work in multiple program areas, akin to different sports.  So, there might be an Irwin County A&NR PDT, a McDuffie County FACS PDT, and a Lowndes County 4-H PDT.  They all play in different arenas, but they all play under the same set of guiding principles.


Tip 8 - When working with your PDT … Remember the GOLDEN RULE! (December 2008)

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

These ‘tips within a tip’ will help ensure PDT success:

  • Structure your PDT meetings and tasks to mirror successful programs of which you have been a part in the past
  • Involve team members in meaningful activities
  • Use their time wisely
  • Collaborate with your PDT Chair in developing a purposeful agenda