A Study to Determine the Effectiveness of Agriculture/Natural Resource Program Area Committees on the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Planning Process
Weems, Whit Holland
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Volunteers play a critical role to Extension by assisting with program planning, provide input and guidance in what direction local Extension programs should take, and provide assistance with program implementation and evaluation. Extension volunteers have been utilized in Extension for over 50 years, serving on program area committees to develop programs that meet the needs of local clientele. This study evaluated Agriculture and Natural Resource Program Area Committee (Ag/NR PAC) members located in 36 Texas counties. The selection of counties was based upon Texas AgriLife Extension Service county categories. A quantitative, ex post facto, survey instrument was developed that consisted of Likert type statements that focused on the purpose, responsibilities, qualifications, time obligations, County Extension Agent interaction, subject matter specialist interactions and assisting with educational event implementation and evaluation. The survey was mailed with a postage paid return envelope and return surveys were accepted for 45 days. The data was analyzed using SPSS 16.0 for Windows software. The findings of this study showed that Ag/NR PAC members have an overall understanding of the purpose, responsibilities and qualifications of PAC's. Overall, the data shows that County Extension Agents are remaining involved with the program area committees. However, 42 percent of the respondents disagreed or remained neutral to subject matter specialists being utilized in committee meetings. The open ended questions show that program area committee members consider personnel education as a motivational factor for serving on the Ag/NR committees. Committee members feel strongly about assisting with program planning and attending the educational programs but are not remaining actively involved in the evaluation or interpretation phase of the programs. The findings of this study resulted in seven associated recommendations related to working with Ag/NR PAC's. In addition, six areas were identified for areas of research to be considered for the future. The results found that Ag/NR PAC's are still a crucial part of Texas AgriLife Extension Service and they play an important role in identifying issues at the local level. The information found within the study will contribute to working with volunteers to enhance the program planning process.