In 1864, Abraham Lincoln called the USDA “The Peoples’ Department.” Over 150 years later, Extension is still working hard to meet the needs of the people. With over 100 Land Grant Universities, Extension relies on the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and abilities of every staff and faculty member to advance the mission of Extension — taking the knowledge gained through research and education and bringing it directly to the people to create positive changes (NIFA, n.d).
Professional development can be obtained through a variety of mediums: experiential learning experiences, virtual learning, workshops, and lesson study groups. Through the use of a variety of delivery modes, key competencies such as program development, subject matter expertise, communication, inclusivity, information, and educational delivery, interpersonal relations, leadership, organizational management, and professionalism (University of Missouri Extension, n.d) can be developed and honed. Together, all competencies create a synergy among Extension’s personnel to improve individual performance in order to create an organizational impact.