Section 8: Educational Programs

Improving the quality of life through educational programs is the primary reason for the University of Missouri Extension's existence. Identifying educational needs, planning, implementing and evaluating educational programs is the heart of MU Extension.

Programs come in many forms and are designed to achieve specific educational objectives. In most cases, programs require continuous educational opportunities, not just one meeting, one youth or 4-H club, one consultation or one virtual event. For example, it requires a number of educational opportunities to address the issue of agricultural profitability or to decrease stress levels of dual-wage-earning families. County councils should take an active role in establishing educational priorities for the county.

County councils need to:

  • Define the local situation — Review demographic data, local concerns, employment history and other information. The council needs to understand the community/county they serve and represent the diversity of the county.
  • Help identify program issues — Determine what is appropriate for MU Extension and the local council to address within the extension mission.
  • Decide how to secure and allocate resources for educational programs.
  • Help set educational objectives.
  • Target underserved audiences.
  • Identify educational resources locally, within MU Extension and through the networks that extension can help access.
  • Evaluate educational programs.
  • Advertise educational programs and extension.
  • Report program accomplishments in a public forum. This includes being accountable to the funding sources for use of the funds.

County councils play a major role in identifying issues, determining effective means of reaching people in the community, identifying local people and leaders who would benefit from or support programs, and helping to build collaborative relationships with other community groups that have agendas complementary to MU Extension.

The county council not only helps identify program needs, but also plays a major role in planning and implementing programs. Fees for certain extension programs are set by the college in which they are housed. For other programs, the fees are established by the county council. Other financial support, if needed, is generated through the council's efforts as well. County councils can be excellent ambassadors for, and marketers of, extension and the programs offered through the local county council.

Evaluation should be a very big part of the council agenda. Reporting program impacts, along with formal and informal evaluations, is necessary. Faculty, staff and county council members should discuss the effectiveness of programs and how future program development is affected.

Education Program Committee

It is important for each council to develop a program committee. A program committee provides one means of addressing educational program development in the county. A council may want to have a committee for a targeted community need in the county. Committee members usually consist of extension faculty, extension staff, council members and other representatives in the county that the council may ask to work with them.

Program development is an area in which extension faculty and county councils have a great deal of history as well as success. Program development materials are available through specific program areas or field specialists.


State law assigns broad authority for programming to councils.

The council shall:

  1. Assist in the planning and carrying out of extension programs in their county and area, making recommendations to MU Extension as they may deem necessary.
  2. Make available to all individuals, groups and organizations equal opportunity to share and participate in extension programs.
  3. Prepare an annual report to county commissioners, highlighting funding, funding sources and how those funds were spent to support the local extension program effort. The annual report also highlights extension programming efforts and impacts within the county.

The council may:

  1. Collect fees for specific services, such as soil testing.
  2. Collect fees for educational programs, conferences and short courses using the Cvent system.
  3. Seek and accept contributions or sponsorship to be used for extension programs.
  4. Cooperate with other counties in sponsoring extension activities.

The council may not:

  1. Engage in a commercial enterprise or legislative program.,
  2. Give preferred service to an individual, group or organization.
  3. Collect dues or pay fees to a state or national association.
  4. Hold real estate not required for the administration of the extension program longer than two years.