Bradley A. Leger, PhD
Let’s looking back at the mission of Extension:
“Extension education is an intentional effort to fulfill predetermined and important needs of people and communities.”
Let’s cast the net out into the youth arena and consider the 4-H Program’s vision:
“Reach a diverse population by creating opportunities for young people to develop the sense of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery they need to thrive as contributing citizens of our state.”
What comes to your mind when considering these statements? Speaking for myself, I notice what they do not say. They do not state that we will serve only a certain segment of the population; rather, it infers that we are to serve all of our citizens. Quite a challenge, to be sure!
So . . . how are we to discover the needs of the various segments of our very diverse population? How do we ensure that we assemble an Advisory Council which is representative and inclusive of the demographics of our service area, whose members in turn will help us to connect with our clientele?
I found this description of an inclusive organization from the Denver Foundation which I propose to be good food for thought:
An inclusive organization not only has diverse individuals involved; more importantly, it is a learning-centered organization that values the perspectives and contributions of all people, and strives to incorporate the needs and viewpoints of diverse communities in the design and implementation of universal and inclusive programs. Inclusive organizations are, by definition, diverse at all levels.
What is your opinion of this description?
Any stories to share?
In the meantime, I suggest that you take a look at these websites which are great resources:
- LSU AgCenter Organization Development and Evaluation Unit: Advisory Leadership System.
- Oregon 4-H Outreach to Latino Populations
- The Denver Foundation