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University of Missouri Extension County Council Manual - Page 5

Section 4: Educational Programs

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

Programs come in many forms and are designed to achieve specific educational objectives. In most cases, programs require a number of continuous educational opportunities, not just one meeting, one youth or 4-H club, one consultation or one satellite downlink. 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:

  1. Define the local situation -- Review demographic data, local concerns, employment history and other information.
  2. Help identify program issues -- Determine what is appropriate for University of Missouri Extension and the local council to address within the extension mission.
  3. Decide how to secure and allocate resources for educational programs.
  4. Help set educational objectives.
  5. Identify educational resources locally, within University of Missouri Extension and through the networks that extension can help access.
  6. Evaluate educational programs.
  7. Report program accomplishments -- This includes being accountable to the funding sources for the 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 University of Missouri Extension.

The county council not only helps identify program needs, but also plays a major role in planning and implementing programs. Fees for program efforts 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 efforts, along with formal and informal evaluations, is really necessary. Staff and county council members should discuss the effectiveness of programs and how future program development is effected.

Education Program Committee

A program committee provides one means of addressing educational program development in the county. Many county councils select a committee for each major program issue to be addressed in the county. Committee members usually consist of a professional staff advisor, council members and other representatives in the county that the council may ask to work with them.

For information on how to utilize committees effectively, refer to the section on extension council committees or program committees in IMPACT Leaflet No. 6, Extension Council Committees.

Program development is an area in which extension staff and county councils have a great deal of history as well as success. A number of program development materials are available through the county program director.


The 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 University of Missouri Extension as they may deem necessary;
  2. Make available to all individuals, groups and organizations equal opportunity to share and participate in extension programs; and
  3. Prepare an annual report to county commissioners.

The council may:

  1. Collect fees for specific services, such as soil testing, conferences and short courses;
  2. Seek and accept contributions to be used for extension programs; and
  3. Cooperate with other counties in sponsoring extension activities.

The council cannot:

  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; or
  4. Hold real estate not required for the administration of the extension program longer than two years.