3.1 Nebraska Extension:
The mission of Nebraska Extension is to help Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education. To do this, Extension faculty and staff develop, deliver, and/or teach and evaluate research-based educational programs. Extension is a unique partnership established by Congress in 1914. It is a national education network designed to meet the needs for research, knowledge and educational programs that enable people to make practical decisions. This publicly funded, non-formal collaborative educational network combines the expertise and resources of federal, state, and local governments. It includes the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a land-grant university, and 83 county or multiple-county offices throughout the state.
3.2 Extension Staff:
Nebraska Extension is organized and structured to extend the resources of the University of Nebraska to the citizens of all communities across the state. Extension faculty serve in a variety of positions on the University of Nebraska– Lincoln campus, in Research and Extension Centers or in one of the 83 county or multi-county offices throughout the state. They serve as Extension Specialists, Educators, Associates, and Assistants. The variety of position descriptions reflects the ability of Extension to focus staff expertise toward very specific or general program needs.
3.3 Role of Extension Staff in 4-H:
The roles of specialists, educators, associates, and assistants are continuously evolving. While there are distinct responsibilities tied to each of these roles, there is also an increasing number of overlapping responsibilities, especially between specialists and educators. Teamwork and communication are significant responsibilities of everyone and it is essential to have dialogue among specialists, educators, associates and assistants about their program goals and accomplishments. Faculty and staff have responsibilities for addressing the growing diversity of needs of Nebraskans.
To aid in the clarification of Extension faculty and staff roles documents have been developed specific to 4-H staff and may be accessed at: https://unl.app.box.com/s/459kj2o6y4kyaeog7mbrkf5bcwjmzo70. Other roles and responsibilities for Extension staff may be accessed at: http://extension.unl.edu/what-our-team-does/.
While it is expected that specialists assume lead roles in developing curricula, development of curricula is evolving into more of a partnership with educators. Educators are key to the determination of appropriate delivery modes because of their familiarity with constituents and their increasing responsibility for teaching locally delivered programs. There are also venues where the specialists, educators, and assistants team teach. Assistants, in their specifically targeted roles, work with their supervising specialists/educators to deliver programs. Planning and development of educational 4-H programs is a shared responsibility between Extension staff and local volunteers. Extension staff is responsible for:
- Communicating 4-H policies to the members, parents and volunteers in the local program.
- Providing overall leadership and management of the 4-H program in the county.
- Keeping 4-H volunteers informed of current Nebraska Extension priority areas and opportunities for related youth programming.
- Providing growth opportunities and training for 4-H volunteers, leaders and members.
- Empowering 4-H volunteers to give leadership and direction to 4-H programs.
- Involving clientele in program decision-making through advisory councils and committees.
- Being sensitive to the basic needs of youth, volunteers and the community.
3.4 Role of Extension Staff in Programming
Nebraska 4-H Youth Development is the youth program of Nebraska Extension. When Nebraska faculty and staff teach science based, educational programming to youth audiences, these youth are in fact 4-H participants and the programs taught are 4-H youth development programs. Extension faculty and staff will name programs as 4-H and will report youth programming as 4-H programs on national, state and county reporting mechanisms.