Early Career Extension Professional Development Needs Assessment Report


Introduction and Background: Virginia Cooperative Extension hired 100 new agents from 2011 to 2014. This study was initiated to determine professional development needs for these early career agents, many of whom are also members of the millennial generation. The hope was that by developing professional development programs to specifically meet the needs of these new agents we may contribute to their career longevity and success. The study consisted of a series of focus groups in which a representative sample of agents hired in the past three years provided information, initially for use in a system-wide electronic survey. However, as the research team reviewed the findings it was determined that there were significant improvements that could be identified and made based on the current findings without support from the system-wide survey. Therefore, the plan for the survey covering all topics was abandoned. What has evolved is a series of recommendations to support career longevity in a collaborative environment, taking into consideration the work-life integration and professional development needs of Extension professionals within Virginia Cooperative Extension. This document serves as a summary of findings and recommendations that have resulted from this process.