Tampa Bay Extension Agents’ Views of Urban Extension: Philosophy and Program Strategies
The purpose of this article was to explore the concept of urban Extension as perceived by Extension agents within the Tampa Bay area, one of Florida’s fastest growing metropolitan areas. From a theoretical perspective, it is critical to understand Extension agents’ beliefs about urban Extension because behaviors are directly related to attitudes (Ajzen, 2012). In 2016, a qualitative investigation was undertaken to explore the perspectives of 23 agents working within the Tampa Bay area. Results showed the majority of agents believed that context and client needs are unique for urban Extension, and that to a lesser extent, unique agent expertise is required. Further, these beliefs impacted how agents reported their approach to programming, with an emphasis on providing convenience and seeking partnerships. Difficulties were identified related to identifying the role of Extension in a resource-rich environment of service providers, which contributed to the existence of a perceived disconnect between urban audiences and Extension. Opportunities exist for Extension leadership to provide strategic organizational support that will enhance agents’ abilities to succeed in the metropolitan environment.
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