New Publication Helps Cooperative Extension Professionals Engage Communities

A new publication – Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums: A How-To Guide for Onsite and Online Community Engagement – is available from the Extension Foundation.

The publication explores the use of issue forums as a community engagement tool in Extension work. Both a process guide and content publication, it is a comprehensive “how-to” designed to help Cooperative Extension professionals successfully develop and implement issues forums in both onsite and online settings. Each section of the publication includes Our Story, a narrative of the key lessons learned by the authors. This publication will be of value to Cooperative Extension professionals and other organizations and institutions that are considering ways to increase community engagement to collaboratively address issues.

It was written by a team from the University of Maryland Extension, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, and Ohio State University who have been involved in a multi-year project. This project has focused on engaging communities in helping to address issues facing farmers and farm families. The authors are Bonnie Braun and Jesse Ketterman from the University of Maryland, Maria Pippidis from the University of Delaware; and Shoshana Inwood and Nicole Wright from Ohio State University. 

As the authors noted, “The need to move from face-to-face to online forums arose with the COVID-19 pandemic. We sought funding and consulting services to enable us to compare outcomes of face-to-face forums with those of an online forum…This project allowed us to test on-site vs online forums, to create this how-to e-Pub, and to offer professional development to those wanting to learn about conducting their own forums.” 

This publication is the second produced by the team for NTAE. The team’s first publication –  Building Farm and Family Family Resilience in our Communities: A Guide for Extension Professionals to Engage Strategically – strengthens the ability of Cooperative Extension professionals to reduce risk and stressors and increase the resilience of farms and farming families with the context of a sociological framework. 

The project was supported by a grant from the New Technologies in Agricultural Extension (NTAE) program. The team was supported in their work by the Extension Foundation. The Northeast Extension Risk Management Educational Center and the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development provided support for the on-site forums.

Additional titles have recently become available in the Extension Foundation library on topics such as creating mass media campaigns, game-based education, wellness in “tough times,” innovating curriculum, prescribed fire, emergency preparation and response, understanding food labels, and building farm and farm family resilience. You can find the entire library of publications here.

A note about our Publications: 

After listening to the feedback of our Cooperative Extension partners, the new Publication bookshelf serves as a replacement for our old eFieldbook library. We greatly value and appreciate the feedback we received, including eliminating a LinkedIn login to access titles on the bookshelf. All titles are publicly available on our Connect Extension platform. Titles that were on our former eFieldbook bookshelf are in the process of being migrated.