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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

What Makes a Good Extension Professional?

Name of Leader:

Michelle Hollaway, Cheryl Sisson

Names of Participants:

Darren Moor, Galina Barrett, Mike Bramley, Penny Floyd, Hamish Pitt, Kym McKauge, Linda Harley, Peter Holden, Kathryn Warburton, Darren Schmidt, Nigel Rogers, Alex Goudy, Peter Metcalfe, David Kennedy, Bob Armstrong, Wendy McLeish, Nigel Gallas, Tony Nunan, Nicole McLennan, David Sparks, Mandi McLeod, Shane Flint, Greg Cock

Main points of discussion

  • Don’t need to be a generalist – the world needs specialists
  • Life skills are important
  • There is a need to establish credibility with your clients – don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know the answer; how well do credibility and youth sit together?
  • Character, Credibility and Communication are essential for an extension professional.
  • Need to be able to manage expectations of your client group, your managers and your funding body. Setting objectives are a tool to use to managing these expectations.
  • It is essential to approach your work with a professional attitude and this can be gained through work experience or effective mentoring.
  • Do university courses really prepare us for the job? It would seem that all training provides us with a platform for learning and this is a key attribute for employers.
  • In-service training can provide the skills that are necessary to successfully perform a job. Do agencies want a technical specialist who can learn facilitation or a facilitator that can learn the technical background?
  • Recruitment processes can reflect client needs by having representation from the client group in the selection process eg. CRC Cotton, Dairy Extension positions within DPI.
  • We are entering an age where the bulk of training will be provided after leaving the tertiary system. Individuals need to take personal responsibility for their training needs.
  • Training organizations need to examine where their graduates are being employed and how well equipped they are to meet the needs of their employer and its clients.
  • It would be preferable if lecturers have experienced practical employment in their teaching area to ensure credibility and an understanding of the broader needs of the discipline.
  • Universities should focus on teaching students how to think and acquire knowledge.
  • The extension professional needs to maintain critical and creative thinking.
  • Adults learn by doing and this is achieved through on-the-job practical training and experience.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • Refinement of the recruitment/selection process to include real on-the-job needs.
  • Individuals need to take the initiative for self-development and training opportunities and build on what has been learnt through formal education. Further, an extension professional needs to maintain critical and creative thinking.
  • Develop professionalism through work experience and by tapping into an effective mentoring program/network.
  • Establish credibility with the organisation and clients and don’t be afraid to ask for specialist information from others.

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