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EEE TIG Week: Alda Norris and Kendra Lewis on Extending your Evaluation Education

Greetings! We are Alda Norris, Evaluation Specialist at University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Extension and Kendra Lewis, 4-H Evaluation Coordinator at University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. We are the Chair and Secretary, respectively, of the Extension Education Evaluation Topical Interest Group (EEE TIG). This TIG offers professional development for Extension professionals interested in and engaged in program evaluation. Our TIG is entering its 37th year!

This week, some of our members will be sharing their work with you, including tips on program quality from Mary Arnold; tracking college enrollment and degree attainment from Chelsea Hetherington; gathering farmer feedback from Chris Okafor; agile and lean evaluation capacity building from Teresa McCoy; and credible evidence from Tom Archibald.

If you’ve never visited a Cooperative Extension System (CES) office, know they exist across the U.S. and its territories. CES works to “extend” the research knowledge gained at land-grant universities to the public through fact sheets, workshops, consultations, maker spaces and beyond. Learn more from our federal partners at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Our TIG also has members involved in the agricultural extension systems of other countries; you’ll read more about projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Chris’ post.

Lesson Learned: When you have been in an organization for a while, it’s easy to forget not everyone knows, or understands, its mission. CES is often called a “best kept secret” of community resources. Practice your elevator speech!

Hot Tip: Consider joining a TIG for networking. Who does similar or complementary work? Consult a list of members whose work has been highlighted in blogs or awards. Read about some of the past EEE TIG award winners and seek those folks out for a conversation at the annual conference and business meeting.

Hot Tip: Search for AEA affiliates and TIG pages on social media. Veteran evaluators often post helpful resources like evaluator Twitter handle lists. Make yourself a calendar invite to start spending time each week reading posts on discussion lists like EVALTALK.

Hot Tip: Look for other clearinghouses for sharing information and professional development in your discipline. Evaluators can browse the AEA library for past conference presentations, Coffee Break presentations, and other resources. In Extension, a great resource we have is eXtension.org.

Rad Resource: A great place to learn about the breadth of topics and current trends in any arena, including Extension, is to take a look at what folks are publishing about their work. Relevant journals for outreach include Journal of Extension and Journal of Human Sciences and Extension.

Rad Resource: Think beyond print. Listen to podcast interviews with authors from the recently published We’ve Tried That Before: 500 Years of Extension Wisdom.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Extension Education Evaluation (EEE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the EEE AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EEE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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